Penultimate!

At the Georgia border. Photo by Dirty Bird who- with Ducky-  came to cross into the 14th and final state with me!

At the Georgia border. Photo by Dirty Bird who- with Ducky- came to cross into the 14th and final state with me!

…as in, the post before my final post. I’m writing from the ‘Top of Georgia’ hostel near Hiawasee, Georgia where I’m enjoying my final ‘zero’ on the trail. Today is Saturday 4/25 and I’ve got 69 miles left of my hike, 2116 miles behind me. I’m in the 14th and final state on the trail and assuming all goes well, will summit the AT’s southern terminus (Springer Mountain, Georgia) Wednesday morning, have dinner with a couple of trail brothers (Dirty Bird and Ducky) that evening and then hitch a ride with them to the Atlanta airport where Wendy has already booked me a flight home early Thursday morning. I should be sleeping in my own bed again in a few short days!

With the end now so close, I’m very emotional about the experience. I was asked this morning to sum it up for Cappy, a great young north bound hiker at the opposite end of her journey. I could hardly get out a sentence without choking up. So, rather than wax melodramatic, I’ll leave this post brief and save any pontificating for my final remarks in my upcoming last post, probably about a week from now.

Before I leave you with a bunch of new photos, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude. I’m struggling to express how sincerely I’ve appreciated the support, encouragement and interest from so many along the way. And at the very top of that list of people to thank is Wendy. There is simply no way this journey of a lifetime would have happened without you. Though I’ve said it privately a bunch of times, I want to say it publicly too, so that everyone else knows how amazing you’ve been throughout the trip. Thanks again Wend!

Ok, so ends my second-to-last installment and once again, your comments are very welcome. Enjoy the pix and happy trails, wherever your feet find you. Max

Waterfall near Georgia border

Waterfall near Georgia border

Me on the observation tower

Me on the observation tower

From an observation tower- my pack and poles on the wall

From an observation tower- my pack and poles on the wall

Observation tower just before Georgia border

Observation tower just before Georgia border

No sir, officer, I didn't carve it

No sir, officer, I didn’t carve it

Rolling hills, North Carolina style

Rolling hills, North Carolina style

Stone cistern near Georgia border

Stone cistern near Georgia border

Moth on a bathroom stall, NOC

Moth on a bathroom stall, NOC

Reunion with Campfire (middle) and Young Guns, who I met on day 1 of the hike

Reunion with Campfire (middle) and Young Guns, who I met on day 1 of the hike

Misty water

Misty water

Fontana dam from above

Fontana dam from above

Peaks awash in fog south of the Smokies

Peaks awash in fog south of the Smokies

Muddy trail 1

Muddy trail 1

Turkey or small ostrich

Turkey or small ostrich

Muddy trail 2

Muddy trail 2

Klingman's dome in the rain

Klingman’s dome in the rain

Gatlinburg street 3

Gatlinburg street 1

Gatlinburg street 2

Gatlinburg street 2

Gatlinburg street 1

Gatlinburg street 3

Newfound Gap, Smoky Mountains

Newfound Gap, Smoky Mountains

More Smoky Mountains

More Smoky Mountains

Mist again

Mist again

The trail on a clearer morning

The trail on a clearer morning

20 plus people hiding from cold rain in a shelter

20 plus people hiding from cold rain in a shelter

I love misty mornings on the trail

I love misty mornings on the trail

Debris from airplane crash in Smokies

Debris from airplane crash in Smokies

Muddy trail 3

Muddy trail 3

Ridgerunner Andrew, Animal and Chip Monk

Ridgerunner Andrew, Animal and Chip Monk

4th pair of shoes-wounded

4th pair of shoes-wounded

Always, the mountains

Always, the mountains

Max Heap enjoying sdunrise at Max Patch

Max Heap enjoying sunrise at Max Patch

Moon just before dawn

Moon just before dawn

Trail angel Greg and his dad George...last time I saw them was on Moosilauke in New Hampshire!

Trail angel Greg and his dad George…last time I saw them was on Moosilauke in New Hampshire!

Mav's love note to Birdie in a shelter log...awwww!

Mav’s love note to Birdie in a shelter log…awwww!

Yukon Cornelius, the 100th Nobo hiker I met on the day I left hot springs

Yukon Cornelius, the 100th Nobo hiker I met on the day I left hot springs

Just a nice view

Just a nice view

4th pair of shoes- healthy

4th pair of shoes- still healthy

Nice plaque

Nice plaque

Clearly God wants me to wash my hands

Clearly God wants me to wash my hands

Hot Springs- a great trail town

Hot Springs- a great trail town

Maxheap on the move

Maxheap on the move

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