The ultimate goal for a NOBO thru-hiker is to summit Katahdin after hiking over 2,000 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia.
But for me, there’s another reason apart from all of the obvious ones of why I want to finish our thru-hike.
In January 2012, my dad completely turned around his health after a visit to the doctor. In one year, he lost over 80 pounds and has completely reversed all of his health problems by exercising daily and eating healthy. I’m really proud of my dad. People think thru-hiking is inspirational; well, I think what my dad has done in the past year is pretty awesome. It takes a lot of discipline to change eating habits that you’ve had your entire life. And getting back into an exercise routine, that’s hard for everyone I think. He started by just taking our two golden retrievers, Stella and Manny, on a walk up and down the street everyday. He slowly increased his mileage and even told me that he was able to do a little jogging by the end of last summer! He couldn’t even remember the last time he had ran. Maybe a marathon is in your future, dad? 😉
But despite all of the discipline his lifestyle change required, it is all worth it to him. People that he’s known for years don’t even recognize him because he’s lost so much weight! He’s bought an entirely new wardrobe and has even picked up cross-country skiing again, something he hasn’t done since I was probably 4 or 5 years old. And as my dad and I have talked about several times, it’s pretty simple stuff: Eat less. Do more.
My family and I have always enjoyed going on hikes together and it was different going with my dad this past year because he hardly ever needed a break. And I’d say we have a similar hiking speed, so it allowed us to talk along the way about some of our favorite things: photography, soccer, and music.
So, with my dad’s dramatic weight loss, he decided that after living in Maine for 26 years, he would finally climb Katahdin. And he would do it with Miles and I at the very end of our thru-hike.
If all of my other reasons for wanting to finish our thru-hike aren’t enough, then I think helping to fulfill my dad’s dream to hike Katahdin will more than suffice.
Now you’re probably thinking, well he could hike Katahdin whenever he wants. If we don’t finish for some reason, then he can still do the hike some other time, right?
But come on. It wouldn’t be anywhere near as amazing as hiking the last few miles of the AT with your thru-hiker daughter and her boyfriend? Plus, we’ll have a built-in photographer for our photos atop Katahdin, right dad? 😉 But really, my dad is an awesome photographer and inspired me to become a photographer myself. So on top of Katahdin, our inspiration to one another will come full circle.
I love my dad and I’m really proud of him. He has always gone above and beyond the call of duty as a dad. And I can’t forget my mom, she falls into the category of amazing parental unit as well. I know both of my parents will be helping us a lot while we’re on our hike sending us mail-drops, providing life advice, and being my main support system back home. So, I think the least that I can I do for my dad is to hike 2,180 miles to The Birches in Baxter State Park so that he can join us for the last 6 miles of our thru-hike and finally fulfill his goal of hiking Katahdin.
My dad’s day hike may seem small in comparison to our thru-hike, but I think what my dad has accomplished is an even greater achievement. He has completely turned around his life and health, allowing him and I to hike many mountains together for many years to come.