140 Days on the Appalachian Trail

November 06, 2019

This summer Kit Mook has embarked on a south bound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Kit started his 2,200 mile trek in June and is on track to wrap up in November. Follow along with Eastward as we check in with Kit for updates from the trail.

- Know The Way -  

Springer At Last


 

140 days after embarking on his Appalachian Trail thru-hike, Kit "Baby Milkshake" Mook reaches the Southern Terminus!

We welcomed Kit to the Eastward team back in June 2019 as our first brand ambassador. Kit departed Mount Katahdin shortly after, heading southbound. SOBO hiking on the A.T. is far more difficult than northbound and only makes up about 10% of thru-hikers each year. This week Kit finally accomplished one of the most rewarding hikes in the world, healthy and on a rollercoaster of emotion as he joined the class of 2019 A.T. thru-hikers. Follow below as we got to catch up with Kit shortly after this incredible milestone.


EASTWARD: Kit! Congrats on finishing your thru-hike! You wrapped things up just a few days ago. Where are you today and what's next?
 
KIT: I am back in Chapel Hill visiting my parents and getting a few things in order before heading out to Denver. My brother's birthday is in a few days so I am gonna stay for that and kick it with some friends for the weekend. The thing I am most looking forward to is reading to my friend's Kindergarten class for the 4th year in a row!
 
EASTWARD: How are you feeling physically and emotionally?
 
KIT: Physically I feel great. I have a minor foot crack on my heel but I could have kept cruising. Emotionally I feel like I am a little burnt out. The last few days were such an emotional rollercoaster. From saying bye to trail friends over the last few hiking days, to finally seeing the southern terminus, and then seeing my dad and brothers at Amicalola Falls. It still hasn't set in yet that I am done and I am already missing some parts of the trail like the freedom of hiking all day, and the lack of traffic. I am struggling with how much car time I have been doing over the last few days.  

"I was by myself and laughed and cried like a maniac WHEN finally seeing the SUMMIT plaQUE."

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.

"It feels somewhat like the end of when I worked as a summer camp counselor, in that you have all these amazing experiences with these amazing human beings and then you go YOUR OWN WAY back to different parts of the country. I know I will hit them up when I am in their neighborhoods and hope they will do the same for me."

EASTWARD: Some of your photos you have headphones in. What are you listening to on the trail? Podcasts, music?

KIT: I listened to a combination of music and audiobooks. I never really got into the podcast game though I did enjoy Ear Hustle and S Town. The audiobooks were nice, as I would get lost in the story and forget about the fact that I was still walking in the late afternoon. My goal with the entertainment was to try to walk at least the first 2 hours of the day without it and then usually not till after lunch when I needed the boost. The morning was always so nice and fresh and I enjoyed the sounds of the woods waking up.
 
EASTWARD: Was it tough leaving your trail family and SOBO friends after being with some of them for weeks or months at a time?
 
KIT: I had some practice with it as I had jumped around somewhat from walking fast to getting off trail for 11 days. But this time it was much more sad since I won't be able to catch back up to them and hike with them again. It was always so exciting when I ran into a friend I hadn't seen for 500-1000 miles! I was able to see my friends Chimney and Maple one last time in Atlanta before I left. It feels somewhat like the end of when I worked as a summer camp counselor, in that you have all these amazing experiences with these amazing human beings and then you go your own way back to different parts of the country. I know I will hit them up when I am in their neighborhoods and hope they will do the same for me.
 
EASTWARD: How has the weather been since the last time we spoke? Have conditions been a bit more challenging than when you started back in June.
 
KIT: The summer and early fall were brutal in their heat and with the water sources drying up. There was a 2 week period where they were perfect and then as I was finishing it was definitely turning into winter and I was thankful for my 20 degree bag. I believe the temp was in the low 20's if not high teens my night on Blood Mtn. The hardest part for me was trying to get the right amount of clothes so you were not burning up but also still had feeling in your legs and fingers. But it was very nice not to be sweating all the time.




EASTWARD: Any gear issues? Have you been putting off replacing anything knowing that you were nearing the end of your hike?
 
KIT: It all held up great. I originally thought that I would need to replace most of my items when I finished and was part of my reasoning for not buying new things. I had to replace my sleeping pad during the hike and I switched bags back to my old Gregory pack. The Granite Gear pack I had chafed my lower back everyday and when I returned to the trail in September I decided that I was over that. I will probably get a new one now and actually caught myself in some post trail sadness yesterday as I was gear shopping, haha. The pair of shorts I hiked in had the pockets rip out and the socks have holes in them. I wore my Eastward Ridgeway hat and Ethos Long Sleeve non-stop! The shirt held up awesome with comfort, kept the bugs at bay, dried quickly, and somehow didn't fall apart after 2,200 miles. All in all I was shocked at how well everything held up.
 
EASTWARD: Any injuries?
 
KIT: I was remarkably healthy during the hike. I had the usual soreness and motivational issues in the morning when I'd rather sit by rivers. I had a few skin cracks on my heels and a shin splint for a while but that was really it. I feel lucky to have avoided anything major.
 
EASTWARD: What are you most excited about now that you are off the trail?
 
KIT: Moving in with my fiancé in Denver. Ski season should be very fun. But mostly just to spend a lot of quality time with her after many months of hiking.
 
EASTWARD: What was your first meal off trail?
 
KIT: Technically it was the day old Subway sammy in the back of my dad's car... but I officially count it as the Ethiopian meal we all had for lunch. So yummy.

"I was definitEly more laid back about getting my miles done and didn't push extra,as i knew i was gonna make it to springer and was subconsciously delaying it."

EASTWARD: Looks like you managed to find a Halloween costume! Was nearing the end of the AT a more of a party mindset or were you fully focused on getting to Springer before celebrating?

KIT: Yeah I found a cowboy costume at a Goodwill in Franklin! On Halloween I was with Yalla and Pineapple in Helen, GA. We hung out and split a 12 pack of PBR, then walked around the town and walked into random businesses. That turned into somewhat of trick-or-treating since they all had candy. We went to get good German food and then to a bar with live music. Unfortunately all the costume and Halloween parties were on November 1st, so we missed them. I wouldn't say I was in party mode per say. I did the same amount of drinking and fun in towns as I had been doing the whole trail. I was definitely more laid back about getting my miles done and didn't push extra, as I knew I was gonna make it to Springer and was subconsciously delaying it I think.
 
EASTWARD: Makes sense! So what is next for you Kit? Are you going back to work, catching up with family and friends, planning your next adventure, just mellowing out?
 
KIT: I am back at home in North Carolina to catch up with friends before I head out to Denver and hopefully starting work in January to save some money for the wedding! As far as hiking I am gonna start looking into the Colorado Trail for next summer. And I am stoked for ski season while in Denver and learning how to ski actual powder.
 
EASTWARD: Thanks Kit! Good luck with the move to Colorado and congrats again!



About

This summer Kit Mook embarked on a south bound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Kit started his 2,200 mile trek in June and is on track to wrap up in November. Follow along with Eastward as we check in with Kit for updates from the trail.

- Know The Way -


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