Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wait for it, wait for it....

"To those who would see the Maine wilderness, tramp day by day through a succession of ever delightful forest, past lake and stream, and over mountains, we would say: Follow the Appalachian Trail across Maine. It cannot be followed on horse or awheel. Remote for detachment, narrow for chosen company, winding for leisure, lonely for contemplation, it beckons not merely north and south but upward to the body, mind and soul of man."

-Myron H. Avery, 1934


So here we are in Monson, Maine, the last town on the trail! This is totally surreal. From here we have about 10 days left, including the 100-mile wilderness and the big climb up Katahdin (big as in 4,500 foot gain in elevation in like 4-5 miles). All in all it's 114 miles left.

We are extremely tired. Mentally, physically, totally - drained. But for all we lack in energy we match in motivation because the end is near, and all we have been walking toward for so many miles in so many months is about to become a reality.

Surprisingly our bodies are holding up really well for having hiked 2,061.7 miles. No serious foot or knee pain, and I thought at this stage in the game we would be hobbling! Aside from some toe numbness and chronic hangnails, we are feeling good and strong. What a blessing! There so many hikers that have battled Lyme's, the flu, mono, you name it.

Speaking of blessings, here are some other amazing things that have been happening:

Number one: The sun came out and decided to stay! This is my hallelujah.

Another great thing. The 2,000 mile marker. Best one yet!

Here's a third. Our most amazing campsite of the whole trail came at East Carry Pond here in Maine on a sandy beach. Dusty built a roaring fire right on the shore that we bathed by. Then we watched the moonrise.

In the morning a layer of ice had formed on our tent (it was down to 28 degrees that night) but our good friend the sun melted it off by 7am and warmed us up before we even started hiking.

Oh, but there were leeches there, and they were huge.

More gorgeousness from Maine. As you can see, we've found the mystical and the magical.

Here was another something I've been reading about and waiting for since, oh...March. Crossing the Kennebec River via ferry (canoe) because it's too dangerous to ford on foot. Here you can see our guide who manages all thru-hiker ferries coming over for us.

And here we are in life jackets getting ready to hop in a canoe. What a nice change of pace for about 3 minutes!

Love is on the trail, and I'm glad I spotted it.

Oh boy oh boy I love my junk food.

But not as much as Brahma. He loves his even more. This was the cutest. I said "Pull out your junk and show me whatcha got in your food bag." Without hesitating he proudly displayed his goods - Fritos, double time, Nutella, Poptarts, you name it. And this isn't even the half of it!

Dustan on top of Avery peak, named for Myron Avery who plowed through bureaucracy and helped make the AT a reality back in the day.

Parting shot: Nature's symmetry. An upturned shroom.

So on this Sunday night we have been watching movies and eating ice cream and Swiss cake rolls. We're saving all our chores for tomorrow - post office, grocery store, packing up and heading out. The next time I update - well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. All I know is that the end is very, very near and we couldn't be more happy, more ready, more amped! I miss my mom, my cat, Dwight Schrute - just to name a few. Thank you for all your comments and phone calls!

Much love from the Bulls.


Scottie and Carl said...

To our favorite AT hikers,
Wow!!! Were we excited to read your entry from Monson tonight!! We didn't know if you would get to write anymore. We, like so many others, don't know what we will do when we can't follow you on your blog. It's been like reading a novel.....and it's all true. We pray for your strength and endurance as you take on this last trek to the finish. We look forward to seeing you in the near future. Don't forget that you can stop over in Waynesboro on your way home....should you come this way.

Much love.

Anonymous said...

Let me be the first at saying CONGRADULATIONS!!!!!!!!!! Waaaahooooooo!!!!! Assuming when you read this you are done, finished, walked the last steps of your epic journey on the Appalachian Trail. I am so proud of you both. You have made it threw so much more than just the trail over these past months. You have met everything that can be thrown at you and walked threw it, and that is worthy of praise. You two are world changers and I know everyone you have met over the past 2000+ mile you have affected their lives in a positive way. I could not be happier for you and your accomplishment. And here is a first for this blog, DRIVE safe and I look forward to seeing you soon. You are in my prayers.
~love Eli

Lollie Lane said...

woooohoooooooooooooooooo. Sis, I have a pic of mom at Roane Mt. that looks JUST like your Hallelujah photo on this post.

Anonymous said...

Hey, That "love rock" is callin my name! I can't imagine how it feels to be kickin out for the last leg of this incredible journey. The kindness and giving along the trail has been exquisite and most certainly a testimony to the goodness that exists in people; people you didn't even know. It is an amazing story that must be told. We will most certainly be waiting for the book to hit the shelves. Much Love and prayers..... JJ&Don

Carrie said...

congratulations! you are ridiculously close. i was just reading dave hasz's blog about ESOL. tm's got nothin' on the AP and the Bulls.

Marie said...


serously....i can't wait to see you.

Kevin Doll aka StinkyKD said...

wont be able to catch you guys at this point (leaving Monson today) - but love you both and glad you touched my life. Peace. Blaze.

Tobi said...

Dustan & Betsy,
We have really enjoyed reading your blog and are so proud of your accomplishment! Even though we don't really know you(only from what my Mom & Dave have told us about you) We feel like we have really gotten to know you from your blog! You have been in our prayers for many months!
If you are driving back, stop through Mt. Desert Island and Bar Harbor, it is beautiful!
God Bless! We are so proud of you!
Tobi & Tom Veri
(Kathie & Dave Schweickerts daughter)

Anonymous said...

Pixie & Holler here.
We summitted on the 26th of September.
I did a handstand from the Summit and will send it in hopes you guys can photoshop yourself in...
Congrats to you guys, hoping the weather breaks,

Anonymous said...

You guys....
today I cried and missesd the fire out of you in church.......WHEW....
so proud of you two for really doing this big thing......
can't wait to snuggle up and listen to all your stories.....
Mackenzie was here this w/e....she has grown and remembers you.....
Ry is snoring like his Pawpaw....
have a great drive home and enjoy the luxury of sitting and driving and no more walking unless you want to.....
Mucho love, Brahma's Mama

Anonymous said...

Hey guys! I talked to your mom, Bets, on Sunday and she said you'd be done sometime this week. That's so aweseome! I keep wondering what it will fill like to take that last step off the trail. I know it will be amazing!! We can't wait to see you! Have a wonderful, restful trip hom. Love you, Zac and Martha

Brian said...

Dustan and Betsy,

If you aren't already done then you can see the finish line. Congratulations! It was great to meet you along the way and share a small moment on your epic journey. You have accomplished something that most can only dream of. Enjoy the afterglow.


JackRussell said...

I can't believe how proud I am of both of you. Your story is amazing. I just can't even imagine all that the Father would show you about the simplicity of life as you're just walking, and walking, and walking along. Bravo! Way to go! We hope to see you sometime soon and hear about it in person. Much love, Russ & Jackie

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