15 Years of Love & Peace on the AT

"Going up!!" to Mount Katahdin. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

"Going up!!" to Mount Katahdin. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Amanda earned her degree in violin performance from Berklee this summer. She married Joel. Her sister married Joel's brother.

Esther, one of my beloved daughters, gave birth to Marcus ... my sixth grandchild.

I rode my motorcycle 750-miles one weekend.

Suzannah and I visited our 18th state (driving), not including the states of bliss and joy.

Triumphs -- great and small -- from the Summer of 2013.

When I read the opening lines of the trail journal of Love & Peace, I was sincerely moved by their amazing accomplishment.

They hit the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine's Baxter State Park ... after section-hiking the Appalachian Trail for (ready?) fifteen dang years!

Suddenly, I want to meet them -- in the same way I want to meet other heroes who have not succumbed to that which defeats so many of us. Attitudes. Uncertainty. Fear of the unknown. Pain. Lack of provision or preparation. Obstacles, real or imagined.

Seriously. How many of us can simply say,

  • "Honey? Kids! Come kiss Daddy goodbye! I'm heading out for six months on the Appalachian Trail! Do your homework and listen to Mommy!"
  • "Boss, y'know how you told me I'm doing all those stupid reports wrong? Good news!"
  • Note on kitchen table: "Dear Family: I love you so much! That's why Mommy will be thinking of you for the next six months while I go for a walk in the woods. I'll try to be home before school starts! Buh-BYE!"
  • "Bertha, I done lied to you and I can't take the pain no more. All that camping gear I bought? It ain't for you ... even though I love you more than sweet tea and a buck in my sights! I'm gonna hike the Appalachian Trail, darlin'! The whole darn thing! Would you take care of my truck and my dog, Beau? Please? I promise I'll bring back a couple of pine cones for you to turn into Christmas presents. Waddya say, Sugar Plum?"

Fifteen years ... probably more than that. Love and Peace kept the vision. They kept on truckin & hiking. Fifteen years.

And they made it all the way. Because they never gave up.

I cannot express to you how happy I am for them, and for the others who have made it in weeks, months, seasons or decades.

If you see them, please tell them I said, "Thanks for 15 years of Love and Peace on the AT!"

Now, who will take their place?

Click Here for Love & Peace's Trail Journal

Click Here for Thru-Hikers' Tales

Excerpt's from Love & Peace's Trail Journal, 9-9-13

Hurray! We hiked to Katahdin's Baxter Peak and completed our section hike of The Appalachian Trail after over 15 years! We are so happy that all these challenging hikes are finished! We look forward to easy trails in our retirement, although we'll still hike some AT sections from time to time.

...

We got up at 5am and were on the trail just after 6am. The nice easy trail of roots and rocks eventually turned to boulders before hitting treeline. Then we came to the part where I aborted our first attempt 2 years ago (hence I only put in 2.2 miles in my mileage count because we hiked 3 miles then). The rebar was in a position which I could not maneuver strength-wise on my own. A fellow named Chris helped me and Peace know how to position our hands and feet and with a boost from Peace, I was able to get on top of the boulder. After that it seemed like a vertical Mahoosic Notch combined with Old Speck Mountain. There were still scary parts where there were dropoffs that we had to maneuver around, but with a lot of prayer and encouragement from others, we made it!

I thought once we got to the tableland that we no longer had any ups. But there was still an up which was challenging after using all the energy for the rest of the hike. It was wonderful to finally have our picture taken at the Baxter Peak sign by a fellow hiker. Hiking back down was a lot easier except for the times when we saw the dropoffs in front of us and we had to creep to the edge to see where the ledges might be to proceed further. One fellow was resting below and let me know where the white blaze was that I couldn't see from the edge.

...

Peace and I signed the tile at the AT Cafe reserved for hikers who have completed the entire Appalachian Trail. Since I couldn't have a Summit Sundae because it had chocolate in it (14 scoops of ice cream with snickers bar, donut, syrup, whip cream, banana, etc.), they made my favorite topping and put it over 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream for me. I had given them the recipe I used - brown sugar, butter, milk, and bananas. Jamie called it Bananas Judith and listed it on the specials board as one of the desserts available. I thought that was so cool! And boy, did it taste yummy! What a nice way to celebrate the completion of the trail.

...

Our next adventure will be bicycling in April 2014 from Key Largo to Key West, about 10-15 miles/day, enjoying the turquoise blue water all the way.

Thanks for reading our journal. Just remember, the Journey is the Destination.

Love and Peace

Click Here for Love & Peace's Trail Journal

Click Here for Thru-Hikers' Tales


Tags: Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, and Maine Appalachian Trail Club

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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Published Jul 30, 2015. The goals common to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Baxter State Park are similar but are they compatible? Can their paths merge atop Mt. Katahdin?