Youngest Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker
We woke again to see another day on the trail. This time it’s different, today we will finish! Almost 9 months since we’ve started and after today we will be finished. It wasn’t always easy, sometimes it was really hard. But, it’s been worth every obstacle we’ve faced to be able to give Buddy this life experience. We can look back now and say, “I wish we did that,” but our hike went exactly as it was suppose to. We have grown together as a family and as individuals along the way and learned life lessons we couldn’t have ever found anywhere else. The amount that Buddy has grown physically and mentally during this time in just incredible. We couldn’t have asked for a better trail experience.
With all the thoughts of the past months on our mind we headed out early from the hotel in Luray to get back to the Browntown Trail. It took us about 45 minutes to get there, but this time I knew where the trial was and our footprints were clear from yesterday to show us the way back. We parked the Jeep and headed up the side trail all together. Although my legs were tired from yesterday and the last thing me feet wanted was to hike another 4 miles up and then 4 miles back down with the gear, I was so thankful to get to hike with my boys back up to the AT for them to begin their last day.
We reached the spot where the Browntown Trail crosses over the AT around noon and I bid the boys farewell as they headed off to do their last 12 miles. I headed back down to the hut to pack up our stuff I had left set up in the shelter the night before. I was very thankful to see that it was all still there and no animals decided to chew through our tent and camp in our warm sleeping bags. I quickly packed it all up and headed back down the slippery slope of the Browntown Trail. Once I got back to the Jeep I started organizing the gear back into the car and readied it for long distance travel back to NY. I went to the library to let close friends and family know that they were on the trail and finishing that night before heading to the grocery store to get dinner and then driving over to 602 to pick them up. I estimated that they would be done around 5:30, so I arrived at 5 not waiting to be late on their last day. They didn’t end up arriving until about 7:15. It was wonderful to see their headlights approaching the road and know that they were safe and their hike was finally complete! We couldn’t possibly be more excited for Buddy. We are just thrilled that we have been able to complete this hike, I just think that having something this amazing be the first real childhood memories he will keep with him will hopefully result in more positive things for his future. Buddy was jumping up and down when he reached the road and was really excited that he was finished. At 5 years old he obviously doesn’t fully understand how far he’s gone, but he will when he gets older. He knows where he’s been and he’s had a great time on and off the trail along the way.
While we were driving from the trail back to the Quality hotel in Harpers Ferry Dion gave me the extremely unfortunate news that he accidentally dropped our camera on the trail. This was pretty sad news considering how many pictures and videos are on the memory card inside that camera. Luckily the camera is an all terrain waterproof kind of camera that will survive the snowdrift it’s laying in. Dion knows that he dropped it between North Marshall and South Marshall mountains. We contacted the park rangers and put a post up on Facebook just in case anyone else might be crazy enough to go hiking up there any time soon. Unfortunately we didn’t have a return address sticker on the camera, which is good advise we’ve received since loosing it. We have most of our pictures saved on our computer that we had with us so it’s not an awful loss, but we would really like to have the pictures of the last few days and our camera back.
We are all so tired from the last few days we just couldn’t wait to get to the hotel in Harpers Ferry and go to sleep. When we woke up the next morning we celebrated with lots of hugs and tickles before heading to breakfast. We are all just so happy!
**Update- someone found our camera in the snow and mailed it back to us** Thank you Lauralee Bliss so much, that was incredible!