EASTWARD: What were the last 500 miles like?
The last 500 may have been my favorite. The views of the Bald Mountains [part of the Blue Ridge Mountains] were exceptional. I really enjoyed the people I was hiking with, and walking through the fall colors was amazing. On top of that it started raining occasionally after the dry summer so water became less of an all consuming issue. I loved hiking in my costume around Halloween. One of the most interesting things about the last 500 miles was the mental strain. I was so excited to see Springer Mtn, but at the same time was sad that it was ending. The last week especially I had multiple convos with friends about whether the exhaustion was from being so close and finally seeing the goal in sight after months of not thinking about it since it was too far away, or from having walked for 4.5 months and it was just a natural part of having walked for that long. I am still not sure.
EASTWARD: Can you walk us through your last day on the trail, from waking up to the final mile?
KIT: My last day was an interesting one. I was gonna wake up to catch sunrise on Blood Mountain and get going early as I was going 29 miles and wanted to catch sunset on Springer Mountain. I figured I didn't need an alarm as I always wake up around 7-7:30 but then I woke up at 8 and had missed the sunrise and packed up as quick as I could. It was still a very nice post sunrise with lots of clouds and lakes in the valleys. It was also freezing up there and this one weekender was trying to chat to me about gear and I felt kinda rude but I was trying to get out as fast as possible and was only half chatting with him. Also, it was cold, hahaha. I then started crushing. I had a group from Gainesville out for a Saturday hike take pics with me and of me; they thought my Halloween cowboy outfit was amazing. I was trying to catch my friend Yalla all day and quickly realized that I wasn't gonna do it. I then walked all day.
Amazingly a nice group gave me a swig of whiskey and 2 beers that I hiked the last 12 miles with me to make summit beers. The last 4 miles were super awesome with a nice walk along a river and then through this sweet pine forest.
The final mile was pretty remarkable. I walked so fast when I saw the Springer Mtn 1 mile sign. I wasn't sure how I was gonna feel and I still don't. I had been there before while I lived in Atlanta and so when I saw the clearing I recognized, I stopped and had to catch my breath. I was teary eyed for both joy of completing this amazing journey and also sad for the fact that this rock meant that my journey that I have loved so much was over. I was by myself and laughed and cried like a maniac finally seeing the plaque. My trail friends Pineapple and Yalla were up there; I got some hugs then we made a fire and watched the sunset and chatted till late. It was a great last day on trail.