The epic journey of a sibling pair as they trek 2,181 miles from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachia Trail.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The End: Katahdin Ascent

Hansel and Gretel started the final 5 miles up Katahdin at about 11:45am and it took them a little over an hour to catch up with Mom and Two Bad.  Their rendezvous came at the point on the mountain that Mom and Two Bad had rendered impassable.

"Well, it looks like we are going this far and that's it," they said regretfully as they gazed up at an 8 foot boulder at the top of which were two pieces of rebar (a metal rod) that had been hammered into the rock.  In order to climb this thing you had to hold on to the higher rebar rod and then swing your foot up to hook the other piece of rebar.  The foot hold was so high up you almost had to knee yourself in the face to reach it while your other foot dangled bellow your body.  Are you picturing this?  If not, you can see an example of another heel hook here.  You just have to imagine this taking place on the edge of a mountain instead of a foot off of the ground.  From the heel hook you had to pull yourself up.  If you let go, the fall would be about 6 feet and nothing to catch you after that.  It was pretty scary, especially for Mom and Dad.  Dad because he has hip mobility problems (recall previous post: Two Bad's Out of Reach Feet) so finding the flexibility to get his foot on the rebar would be extremely difficult, and Mom because she would need to find some super upper body strength to hoist herself up over the rebar.

"I don't even know how Mom and Dad did it, but they both got up over this part somehow," Hansel said.  Many people turn around when they reach that part of Katahdin, but Mom and Two Bad were determined even though Hansel and Gretel tried telling them that it was ok if they didn't go all the way to the top.  Once they got over the rebar, Mom said, "Well, I'm up now so we're going.  I don't know how I'm going to get down again, but I'm up."  As brave as she probably would have liked that to sound, she was almost crying because she was so scared.  They kept telling her that the hard part was over, but that wasn't really true.  There were more hard parts after that as the trail went straight up the mountain for the next 1.5 miles.

This was the most rock climbing Hansel and Gretel had done on the entire trail.  There were parts where they had to pull themselves up over the rocks.  Mom ended up doing a lot of seal-like belly slides to get up on the rocks.  Or she would just put her knees up because it was too hard to pull up on arms alone.  As they climbed up, a bunch of people were passing them going the opposite direction.  When they looked back, there was no one coming up the mountain behind them.  They were the last group to up and most people had already started the climb down.  This made them kind of nervous too, but as Mom said, "There's nothing else to do.  Can't do anything but keep going."

Gretel and Mom making their way up the boulders.

No comments:

Post a Comment