Sunday–November 7, 2021
Remaining Miles–0.00 (Appalachian Trail) and 0.8 (Pinhoti)
Location–West Branch Road (1561.0) to Tom Levardi’s Home in Dalton (1571.9), then to home of Mike & Carol Whalen and son, Chris, Otis, Massachusetts
A restless night; understandable I suppose! Barry has hot coffee and breakfast prepared for me shortly after five, and by six we’re back to the trailhead at West Branch Road–where Barry sends us on our way.
Here, and hiking with me this final day, so many dear friends: Slim Jim, Kitchen Sink, Pooter Scooter, Mayor, Slider & Neighbor Dave. It’s another blue-perfect hiking day, crispy-cold and clear.
This is an average-mile day, over moderately level and friendly terrain, some rocks and roots, some mud, a bit of climbing to a fine vantage, then a short roadwalk through Dalton to Tom Levardi’s home on Depot Street–where folks have gathered to welcome and congratulate me. A firm hug from Tom, then from Grey Beard (current AT thru-hike AT record holder).
On the front steps of Tom’s lovely old home, Grey Beard presents me with a beautifully engraved hiking stick, a symbolic transfer of the age record from himself to me. An incredibly emotional time, as I again break down in tears.
Grey Beard then performs his famous “Victory Dance” for me, and all present lift a congratulatory cup of champagne.
Then the unavoidable sad goodbyes–to Tom, Grey Beard, Slim Jim, Slider, Neighbor Dave, Dan Morton & Barbie Howland, and later to: Pooter Scooter & Mayor.
Evening, Barry, Kitchen Sink and I return to the Whalen’s home to rest the night before heading back south–and home.
Finally, to all who’ve supported me, to the legions who’ve encouraged me, and to my generous sponsors, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for this amazing journey!
Odyssey 2021 – Bama to Baxter – Hike On
O Lord that lends me life,
lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.