Mt. Katahdin: The Holy Grail of Appalachian Trail Thru-hikers

Ray Anderson on Mt. Katahdin at finish of Appalachian Trail hike
September 22, 2003

If you’re thru-hiking north on the Appalachian Trail, Mt. Katahdin is your destination. It was mine in 2003,  and I remember how excited a bunch of us were as we summited nearly ten years ago. For me it was an end to six months and eight days of tramping ever north from Georgia. Some days were good, some were lousy (especially when it rained), but overall it was a great experience, and I understand why some hikers do it all over again.

The night before we climbed Mt. Katahdin, none of us could sleep. I played chess with a thru-hiker who’d just finished the previous day, but was ready to hike up again with friends who had been two days behind him. He was still pumped. I did finally go into the shelter to rest, but my mind was a kaleidoscope of memories of hiking north through the forests and woodlands of fourteen states.

All of us slipped onto the trail before dawn. When I got to the top of Katahdin, after pictures, I went off to the side and tried to fathom it all. But nothing sank in, and I rejoined the group. It was only after, off the peak and on the way back to the staging area, that I took a few minutes to think about the trek. I sat by a brook and was very relaxed and content. I made some resolutions (one of which I’ve kept) and then poled on, eager to see my wife, who was on her way into Maine’s Baxter State Park to retrieve me.

I looked at the great mountain behind me for the last time, turned, and moved ahead.

Mt. Katahdin in Maine; the northern terminus of the Applachian Trail
A last look at Mt. Katahdin

Published by Ray Anderson

Hiker and writer. Have hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, The Long Trail (Vermont), and some of the Continental Divide Trail. My trail name is "HAMLET." Have written three hiking novels (thrillers). The first one, "THE TRAIL," was traditionally published in 2015. My second hiking thriller, "SIERRA," released Oct 2016. Book three in my AWOL hiking-thriller series, "THE DIVIDE" releases from Turner Publishing 8/18/2020.

2 thoughts on “Mt. Katahdin: The Holy Grail of Appalachian Trail Thru-hikers

  1. Hi, Ray

    Great article.

    I think of what you learned about 10,000 hours of study/effort required to understand/accomplish something worthwhile, such as writing a novel: A full-time, five+ year effort, assuming a 2000 hour work year. I’d say you have put that effort and more into understanding the trail and writing. From this reader’s view, it has been quite an accomplishment, and the trail has not even ended.

    Do you have the source reference for that 10,000 hour thought? I’m applying it to an effort to understand the boundaries of subject matters that I am studying. And figuring out if I have the stamina/will to accomplish the task.

    Hope your trip to Florida has been in sunshine. Best to Nancy.


    Sent from my iPhone

    1. Many thanks, Dave. Truthfully, my efforts/hours go in spurts. Great effort and time put in and then a rest from it. As far as source reference, if you mean the well I draw from, it is memory, journals, books, notes (gobs and gobs of notes), hiking clubs, and writers conferfences, etc. Anything and everything, but mostly memory and journals. I’m interested in hearing more about your project. Let’s meet up when I gegt back. Measnwhile, happy trails to you and Judy. It’s been in the eighties here!

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