Today is the day! The day we have been working for on this southern half of our adventure. We are heading out today extra early because although it is going to be a really exciting day, it’s also going to be a long day. Buddy and Dion are tying their biggest day in Maine today and doing 22 miles. We set out extra early at 7am after waking up to the most beautiful sunrise we have seen on the trail. The day was long, but filled with excitement. I stopped and bought Buddy cupcakes for the middle of the day when I met them at Hightower Gap. They were pretty tired by the time they reached me there and hoped that the next 7 miles they had to hike before Springers parking lot went by fast. Buddy later told me that it did, that time just zipped by knowing what they were getting closer to with every step that day. When they finally reached the parking lot at Big Stamp Gap they were greeted by our friend Chris Hall who made our hiking poles, a father and son who follow us on Facebook and our friend Simba who had driven hundreds of miles to be with us at Springer. Simba can be seen screaming in the Hawaiian shirt in the background of Buddy’s Mount Katahadin video. Buddy was so excited when he saw them all there waiting for him to arrive. They took a few minutes to say hello and have a quick bite to eat before we set out to do the last mile of the trail. Buddy lead the way as we all headed up together. We were all excited to get there, and relieved as well. This is another spot on the trail you see in pictures so often and always hope to get to and once you finally do, it’s just the best feeling in the world. The amount of pride and overwhelming happiness to see Buddy standing there, where so many other people have achieved their dreams is priceless. He couldn’t have been happier to get there and sign his name in the registry. We had a great time up there with our friends who had came and headed back when it started to get dark.
Tonight we are headed to the Amicalola Falls Lodge where we have been invited by the incredible Michael Middleton, the Resource Manager and so much more, to come to their Christmas party and stay at the Lodge. We were so insanely excited when he emailed to ask us to come. We’ve been so focused on finishing and dates and getting here and there by this time and date that I hadn’t really planned anything for right after Springer. I hadn’t planned yet where we would stay or what we would do. So, when Michael invited us, we were really excited. Once we had said our goodbyes to everyone and thanked them for coming out to be with us that day, Simba followed us back to the hotel. When we arrived we were delighted to be greeted by a larger than life inflated Grinch, an enormous Christmas tree that was decorated just perfectly and an incredible table of all shapes, sizes and kinds of nutcrackers. This lodge is beautifully decorated for Christmas and the building itself a really breathtaking hotel. We dropped our bags off in our room and headed down to the Christmas party. When Buddy first arrived he got everyone’s attention and introduced Buddy and told them who he was. Everyone clapped and was really excited to get to talk to him. He just loved it and was still coming off the high of coming down from Springer. The food was great, the people were so friendly and welcoming and we just had such a great time. It was honestly the most perfect ending to this already fantastic day. We owe Michael and enormous thank you for all that he’s done for us, he really is such a kind man. As for tomorrow, we are taking the whole day off and relaxing before we hit the road and the trail in the Smokys early Sunday morning. Watch out trail, we’re coming back to finish you up!