The Greatest Mountain

Photo courtesy Josh Delp

Gociety members Adam and Lindsey are spending the next four months driving around the U.S. in search of whatever comes their way. Adventurers at heart, they want to experience and explore each place they visit, and share those adventures with everyone they can.

Having grown up in Georgia, I had known the Appalachian Trail was an icon up in the North Georgia mountains, but had never really encountered it. Without much hiking experience, I drove up to Amicalola Falls and attempted the Southern Terminus Trail one weekend, which departs from Amicalola Falls and climbs to Springer Mountain and back. I didn’t think the seventeen mile walk would be a big deal. Boy, was I mistaken as my legs were screaming at me from all of the chaffage. This brief but substantial encounter began my admiration of and fascination with the Appalachian Trail.

I was reared in the coastal flatlands, and didn’t respect The Trail.

Mount Katahdin was a personal bucket list item for the Maine segment of our road trip. Having completed the southernmost point of The Trail, I was enamored with the idea of tagging the northern tip. I’ve done numerous backpacking trips and 14ers back in Colorado, and I was pretty confident that this day hike wouldn’t be a big deal. So much was I not worried, that I didn’t perform my ritual of triple checking the route details. I won’t make that mistake again.

The Appalachian Trail peaks Mount Katahdin, aka “The Greatest Mountain,” via the Hunt trail in 10.4 miles rising over 4,000 feet in elevation through muddy tread, slippery rocks and some pretty serious class three bouldering. Man, it was so fun! It was a pilgrimage of sorts. Imagine the rush of emotions that thru hikers have as they climb this last trail and put the bow on such a huge, lifetime achievement. The average individual walks six months to get to this finale. Six months of rain, humidity, skeeters, mud, hunger, loneliness and thirst. What a feat!

Mount Katahdin, gociety, road trip,
Photo courtesy Mike Cempa

Lindsey and I were hoping to encounter some thru hikers on the way up, and we were fortunate enough to do so. We had an extraordinary experience with Greenghost and his Father Greygoat, two hikers we met on the way down from the summit. Greenghost finished the Appalachian Trail in 96 hiking days. That’s three months less than the average. He was moving!

A logistical nightmare occurred with them as a shuttle never showed to take them from Baxter State Park to Bangor for their flight the next morning, so Lindsey and I offered for them to cram into the already jam packed backseat of the Accord. They jumped at the opportunity, and we drove them the ninety-five miles back to Bangor. It was a car ride of enormous laughs as Greenghost shared stories of the characters he encountered on the trail; like MountainMime, the thru hiker that would only communicate through a game of charades as he was an actual mime.  

This social and physical adventure is precisely what Lindsey and I hope for throughout our road trip. When you put yourself out there, whether it’s knocking on a farmers door to tent in the pasture or striking up a conversation on the trail, the adventure is made so much sweeter when you get outside to be awesome with other folks.