We made it!!! Katahdin

Baxter peak on the top of Mount Kathadin is 5,267ft and is the tallest mountain around. A perfect finish line of the 2,192 mile Appalachian Trail. Can you believe we hiked that far… through 14 states!!! We were so glad we finally decided to return to complete the trail and make it to the summit. We left Boston at 3am, drove back to the base of the mountain and were so excited about the beautiful sunshine. We started hiking close to 10.

Knowing the weather changes rapidly our plan was to hike straight to the summit (no stopping and talking and no blueberry eating until the trip back down). Papa Bear and I looked at each other as we saw the fast moving cirrus clouds moving in about an hour up the trail. We pushed the girls to move faster and they flew to the summit. A few grey clouds and winds were all that came and we were blessed with the most beautiful clear day at the summit.

The rock scrambles to the ridge line were the girls favorite. They helped each other up and over, worked as a team and supported each other in the climb to our finish line.

The summit in view! After the rock scrambles we hit the ridge line and had a mile an a half walk through the rocks on the ridge up to the summit. (This made us realize that the ranger had helped us make the right and safer decision to turn around earlier in the week in the heavy rain with thunderstorms approaching. )

There were a couple other people at the summit who headed down soon after we arrived. The girls sang and enjoyed lunch for close to an hour, soaking in the views and their accomplishment, before we slowly headed down.

And … all the photos from over proud and amazed parents!!😊

I was not able to upload the video of them singing a gratitude to you all. So maybe you will catch up with us in California to hear them sing😊. (or maybe a partial song will upload on Instagram) The lyrics mean a lot to us but especially the chorus, “When the dreams you’re dreaming come to you and the work you put in is realized let yourself feel the pride, always stay humble and kind, hold the door say please say thank you, don’t steal don’t cheat and don’t lie, I know you’ve got mountains to climb! Always stay humble and kind

We are overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for all the support we received along the way. I often thought we would not make it to this day. It is the power of family and the strength, love, dedication and determination to making a small difference in this huge world we live in. We truly feel blessed. I will try to post a follow up within the next couple of weeks.

What’s next? Sunshine will go back to teaching and Papa Bear back to the winery, (as he figures out what is next) and the girls back to school. We will always be adventurers and will hold these memories and life lessons close to our hearts, always! It is so important to set these long term goals and dreams. Twenty years in the making. Wow how amazing to see them one day become reality. I know my brother is smiling down on us😊 as he set us into motion!!

Thunderstorms at Katahdin 😏

An update but hopefully not yet the end…

Here we are…. We made it to the base of the “Great Mountain”, revered and respected by the native Americans. What a sight. Everyone so excited to finish and family and friends made it all the way from California to meet us. We had pushed a number of days all near 20 miles to make our goal and schedule. We have been hiking for 164 days!  All so much to put together and process. We have awoken a dream set in motion 20 years ago! And so so so much more….

However as we know there are always the unknowns in all our planning and preparations. Of course the most powerful of those is the weather and natural forces of the Earth. The weather was predicted to rain with thunderstorms and high winds. We considered waiting, but the weather looked the same for the rest of the weekend, so we knew we didn’t have time on our side. We also started at Springer Mountain, Georgia in the rain so we found it fitting.

We started up Katahdin in the rain which varied between light rain and mass downpours. The trail was a river, but again we had experienced this for much of the trail, so no problem. The girls were in great spirits and climbing the rock scrambles and ready to move toward the summit, although they were starting to get a bit cold and were sopping wet. We made it above treeline and the winds were stronger. We were pulling ourselves up and over the slippery metal rungs (the girls favorite part) and trying to hide in between rocks to shelter as we waited for the next one in line. Still moving forward and thinking we should probably make a decision before the next 2 miles of all above treeline open exposure, we were greeted by a ranger. The rangers were in the process of 2 rescues, a dislocation and a group stuck out over night. The ranger knew the girls as they had completed their Junior Ranger packets with him the evening before. He was surprised at their determination and how far they had come up the mountain in the rains yet told us to turn around due to the forecast of predicted increasing high winds and thunderstorms.

We made it! We told the girls … as far as we can go. This would be our summit. They sang the songs they wanted to sing on the summit and were overwhelmed with tears and sad faces. We knew the options of returning the next day were the same. We came down, tried to celebrate and left the mountain with an overwhelming feeling of defeat. As if we were not complete. Continuing to check the weather throughout the days, there was not point to stay near the mountain for the week.

The let down, sad faces and tears have lead us to make the decision to try to return next week when the weather is suppose to be better. What an accomplishment the girls have made and we want them to see and feel that. So… the story will continue and we will head back to Katahdin when the weather is supposed to be better and attempt our summit again. Pray for good weather😊☀️

We are so incredibly grateful for all the donations and support that’re coming in! We could not have made this amazing adventure happen without you all. Thank you for being part of our journey. The girls keep asking if they have met their goals of $2000 for each of their organizations. This is part of their completion as well. I will try to find out during the next 2 days off and update them and you all. We are so proud and humbled by the whole experience!

I will be sending the back posts of the states that didn’t download this week and will update you on our return to California (sorry we will be late for the start of school😏). We will hope to greet you all in person to share our journey in September.

With so much gratitude

We will hike on….

Jamie and Malone Family

Maine!!!!

We made it to Maine! So tough that we made it to the state of our completion yet Sister Bunny read the sign of 282 miles still to go. A week into the state we were so fortunate to have the arrival of family visiting and hiking with us. So nice to share the journey and have help motivating us to keep moving forward.

What a beautiful state filled with ponds and above treeline climbs and views. Sandy beaches for lunch time breaks and blueberry picking on the summits of Mountains. We are finding some of the highlights of our trip as our bodies and minds are so ready to be done.

As the photos haven’t been uploading I just wanted to give one quick shout out of gratitude and excitement for all the support we have received along the way. We will soon head into the 100 mile wilderness and will summit Katahdin and complete our journey. We can’t believe the end is in sight. I look forward to sharing photos and better updates when we complete our hike. We have learned, gained, and accomplished so much and can’t wait to share it with you all!

New Hampshire and The White Mountains

Headed into the White Mountains. Big views big mountains and above tree line! The tough Mountains to come we’re a welcome sight and for the first time we were convinced we could make it.

Metal rungs and rock climbs became the terrain and the game of the Whites. The girls love them but many required lifting and pulling each other. A testament to us now working more as a team and needing to stick together throughout the tougher days.

Smarts Mountains Fire tower! Can you believe we meet A hiker from our home town in California on the top of the fire tower!! It really is a small world after all. And what an incredible difference one can make. The girls made a comment the other day that one of the best parts of the trail was raising money for their chosen nonprofits and how they really could make an impact by walking. Again thank you all for your support and donations. They mean so much to us and the world!

A quick stop at an awesome hostel filled our packs, got us showered and on our way. We would have loved to stay the night but are trying to keep with our schedule to the end! It’s great and a challenge that miles have become necessary to keep our schedule and make it back home with our goal completed.

Above tree line!

First shelter. Big miles in the whites meant that many days we hiked past dark. Being a group (6 people), we coordinated our schedule with the group coordinator before entering. It was a challenge to keep the 15 mile day average yet the girls did amazing!

Lonesome Pond Hut. The huts through the whites were fun to stop at. They welcome hikers with pastries and soup. We all enjoyed them and especially the soup on the rainy afternoons.

Franconian ridge. Wow amazing above tree line walk. One of the favorite of the trail for many of us. Sister bunny got way ahead and was told she was too young to be up there alone. She loved the attention and hiked strong!!

Summit of Mount Washington!!! What an amazing day. So clear and views for miles. We definitely felt on top of the world. The crowds were also there to welcome us. So grateful to family that met us, filled our bellies and have us filled with motivation and fun memories to keep our feet moving!!

Summit of Mount Washington the next day was windy and cold with zero visibility. Lucky to have family visiting, we started the decent at a bad weather trail to get below tree line.

Alpine meadows and bog boards

Moose! Yay. We saw our first moose in front of Full Goose Pond.

Though we exited the official AMC White territory there were still plenty of tough Mountains to come. Our bodies were exhausted from the big mile days and terrain of the Whites and we hit a slow down. The girls started to ask the terrain of each day and were very in tune to the elevation maps not necessarily dictating the terrain. Maine to come!!

Vermont -Ver(MUD) or Ver(BUG)

Again… sorry for the delayed posts. Between lack of service and phone issues I’m way behind but am so incredibly grateful to all of you for your continued support. I have 2 posts that have not uploaded but will make sure they get out as we get charged phones and more service. As we move forward we are on a mission to Maine! Making our miles and trying to stick with a schedule to get home in time for the beginning of school has become a focus.

Well we crossed into Vermont in the mud and the state line sign was in a puddle of mud, which is so fitting that it is known to thru-hikers as Ver(MUD).

We then hit the most miserable bug experiences we have ever encountered and the girls decided we should rename it to Ver(BUG). We did all get bug nets at the next town we hit.

The fire towers were the escape from the bugs. Such a welcome sight and then amazing views from the top!!

One of our favorite fire towers was Stratton Mountain Fire Tower. We met the caretakers who have been manning the fire tower since the 1960’s. They were there when I passed through in 1999! Thanks for being there and for all the great info!

Stratton pond

The beaver dams and ponds and changing landscapes were amazing and such a treat. With the changing environment also came new plants and animals. Our very own nature channel continues as we soak in this incredible earth we live on. The girls continue to talk about how they are so lucky to see so many of these things that they would not see if they had not hiked so far! We truly are blessed.

Through the mud, we also made it so some amazing waterfalls, vistas, and open mountain tops full of ferns, grasses and new wildflowers.

Thundering Falls

Harmon Hill was our favorite camping spot in Vermont. What an amazing sunset and great company of other thru-hikers.

Killington Peak provided an incredible rock scramble topped by a view that made Wild Jay say we made it to the top of the world! An awesome day!

We also had ladder climbs and challenges that the girls always enjoy.

Happy 4th of July and Happy Birthday “Sparkle”. We visited with family and made our own parade across the state line into New Hampshire!!!! We considered these short miles our 0 day to keep us moving northward (the road walks of Norwich,VT to Hanover,NH).

Thanks to family and the speed of slackpacking some of Vermont we were able to make some big mile days, stay on schedule and move into New Hampshire. Here we head to the big White Mountains of New Hampshire and then onto Maine!!!

Happy Trails

Pennsylvania (7 states hiked 7 to go)

Pennsylvania also called “Rocksylvania” by many hikers was full of exciting days. We visited state parks, swam in lakes, rivers, creeks, and local pools, climbed many rock scrambles, saw plenty of snakes, and even found a side trail to a ski resort’s bar and grill. All this while making 20 mile days and moving strong. The girls hit their stride.

The girls ran between Caledonia and Pine Grove Furnace State park as they were excited to hit the half way ice cream challenge and the swimming lake at the other end. We were there over Memorial Day weekend and saw the summer crowds start to come out. So great to see so many families out enjoying the trail. In the parks, we had the opportunity to swim in the creeks and the lake. The sand was a welcome sight and the girls had an AT sand castle built as soon as we hit the beach!

20 years ago at the Boiling Springs AT Center, I sat on this swing with Earl Shafer! (The first official thru-hiker). What a treat to now have my whole family here.

Boiling Springs also had their local pool open and we arrived just in time for the last hour of swimming. The girls loved the water slides and hiked on in the evening to dry off!

Yes, the trail was rocky but we also enjoyed some great views and the rock scrambles and climbs (though often exhausting on the feet).

We walk right through towns, cross the roads and freeways sometimes even under the overpassed and over the bridges. Here we are crossing the Juanita River in Duncannon to be followed by three freeways meeting together and a railroad crossing. We had to grab the girls as the train was coming and though they have become very observant of the tiny wonders in nature they forget about the big cars and trains that could run us over. We are safer in the woods 😊.

In Pennsylvania we were hit with some of the crazy storms that have been passing through the country. We were fortunate to be slackpacking on one of the wettest days and missed a tornado by a few miles. We made it into town and sheltered in place at the Hershey’s Factory. There were so many people, it felt like a zoo and definitely overwhelmed us coming from the solidarity of the trail.

In Port Clinton we went swimming in the river. The girls even got a few fellow thru-hikers to take the plunge with them. So much fun after a long day hiking. We also enjoyed a great all you can eat pasta dinner at the firehouse’s annual fundraiser!

Pulpit Rock. Great view with more snakes! The girls saw 2 copperheads and a rattlesnake!

Sister Bunny lost her first tooth! Her sisters spent much time trying to pull it out. The Sparkle Machine finally pulled it on top of The Pinnacle. (We were right next to a rattlesnake and copper head. It was one exciting moment!!!). And the tooth fairy found us. She dusted her in fairy dust, brought a gold coin, and a small bunny to play with on the trail!

We have talked about US history, but there is also the geologic history. Here we are at Wolf Rocks. The southern terminus of the ice age, thus all the rocks of “Rocksylvania”.

Lehigh Gap provided one of the girls favorite rock climb/scrambles. We had to help each other up and over some of the rocks, but the girls ended asking for more and were surprised how fast they passed through all the rocks.

We “skied” down a side slope to the Blue Mountain Resort slope side bar and grill. What a treat!!

Can you read that? Well with great excitement the sign read less than 1000 miles to Katahdin, Maine!! We are on our way.

What a great state line experience… The girls had a blast trying to get all of the trucks and cars to honk and share in their excitement of passing into New Jersey!

… and for the here and now …. this week we did get full packs back on and have hiked into Vermont. Everyone is in good health.😊 …more to come. So grateful for everyone’s support, prayers, and well wishes. Northward now and can you believe the girls have started counting down the days until Maine!

We hike on!!

An update… The here and now, setbacks and accomplishments, and unending logistics…

Due to my delayed posts, I just wanted to send out an update of where we are on the trail and how things are going… I will follow this up with my post of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and entering Massachusetts. Wow! Did you read that?! We passed through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and have entered Massachusetts (and we should make it to Vermont by the end of the week)!!! The girls are unbelievable! They continue to amaze me as they are so motivated and determined to complete this amazing adventure and goal we have set out to achieve (anytime I ask if they are ready to head home they say, “Not until we hit Maine!”. My girls are every bit as stubborn and determined as I am 😊). Through all our challenges over the past couple weeks, the years and months of planning and organizing logistics has proven to be of great benefit.

The most shocking, is that Sister Bunny was in urgent care twice, and unable to be helped. Ultimately, she ended up in the hospital. With amazing nurses and doctors by her side she is up and at it again. Her sisters brought her cards and bunnies into her hospital room and the nurses and doctors were all sure that our strong Sister Bunny would have no problem making it to Maine! As for now she’s hiking shorter days, being carried some😊, and loving to hike in her pink dress (as we have the van near by).

While she was still lethargic and slow to respond she lifted her head and said “I’m ready to hike again mama”… then her first day back she said,”This is much better than being in the hospital.” She is one determined girl and we will all help her accomplish this goal. We continue to work as a team and are only ever as strong as our weakest link. We plan to set out with full packs again by the end of the week (when we are sure she is back to full health and strength).

Logistical notes… Before we left we were sure to upgrade our health insurance plan and have our family doctor on board. (How lucky we are to still have a family doctor in Sebastopol! We are so incredibly grateful!). We know this has paid off and just hope the bills reflect😉. Also all the planning and logistics, that seem never ending with the van close at hand, have proven beneficial. With the van for the past couple weeks we have been able to hike without our gear in our packs, help carry Sister Bunny and continue to make miles to stick with our plan.

We have had to hike some of us north bound and some south bound (meeting in the middle) to reach roads and continue to move the car around but it has worked so everyone can make the miles. We have been able to make some bigger mile days but the girls do miss all of us hiking together,singing and playing trail games as a complete family. Our van, Dragonfly, has served us well.

We also jumped around a bit… We had a week at a timeshare in Delaware Water Gap, so when we reached there a week before our reservations, we moved up north to complete New York, Connecticut, and some of Massachusetts. We then came back south and completed New Jersey into New York, while staying at the Delaware Water Gap, before bouncing back to MA. Only northward here to Maine! The logistics can be exhausting but I think the advance planning of breaking things up for the girls has worked well for us. Also with the illnesses it has been a blessing in disguise.

Finally, an update on our fundraising… it’s amazing, whenever we are at a low, a donation will come in that will re-inspire and motivate us to keep moving forward. We are so grateful for your donations. This week we will be sending out checks to each of the girls charities in the amount of $216.25 from recent GoFund me donations and PayPal donations. We will be changing the GoFund me website such that all the donations made there will be divided equally among the charities. We will leave the Paypal donations with a percentage to hike logistics and the rest divided among the charities. You can also still donate directly to the organizations from the support page here on the blog. (If there are any other issues with the b-rad donations link please go to their home page https://www.b-radfoundation.org and the support button is at the bottom of the page). Please remember to include Awaking-Dreams attached to all your donations so the girls can keep track. Their original goals were $2000 for each girls charity(es) for the 2000+ miles they will hike. Let’s help them get there!

Sorry for the lengthy update. The next one will be the photos and trail updates of the states. Thanks for all your support!!

(High Point Monument State Park overlook in New Jersey)

Happy Trails! And here’s to good health and happy hiking for the rest of our adventure.