April 30, 2021
I woke up exhausted, emotionally and physically. I’m pretty sure I’m hormonal. I spent some time praying and started crying again. Finishing a trail is just really emotional, okay?
I hiked out ahead of Ghosthiker around 5:40am and pretty shortly after that I put in my earbuds and turned on my Hiking playlist. We only have 10 miles to the border and we’d talked about stopping for at least one break, but once I got going I really didn’t want to stop. The trail was nice with some random ups and down and was clear enough, though some parts were really full of scree (of course), and I found I had the energy to run for a while, so I did. I made it to the terminus in 3 hrs 20 minutes.
When I got there, I had to take a moment. I was alone, and when I reached the monument, I just placed my hand in it and breathed for a second, then I started crying. I couldn’t finish the PCT, but I finished the AZT. It’s not 2,660 miles, but it IS 800 miles, and that’s not nothing. It took me 3+ months to cover 1000 miles on the PCT, and it only took me 2 months to finish the AZT. That’s progress. I left the PCT sick and weak, but I’ll leave this trail feeling stronger than ever if a little sunburned and tired.
Once I managed to collect myself, I used the privy and then dropped my stuff at a little pavilion where another hiker was sitting, Ironman. He got to the terminus the day before after a 45-mile day. We chatted for a while, and it was about 9:30am when Ghosthiker arrived. We took photos and cheered, and then talked about our pace.
We’re done. My hormones are all over the place and we’re done, and I’m ready to go home.
Our other hiker friends trickled in slowly. It was exciting. We took each other’s photos by the monument and that stupid Subaru that’s been parked there for weeks, then we sat around talking and eating snacks and basically just basking in the feeling of finishing a long hike. Bass’s mom arrived with a tote full of ice, beer, and several gallons of water, so we sat around drinking beer and talking some more. No one was in a hurry to leave. It was like no one really wanted it to end.
After a few hours, as we were thinking about parting ways, some guy hopped into the Subaru and took off! No, literally, the dude hurried up to the car and then sped off so fast no one had time to see who he was or ask why the hell he left his damn Subaru parked right in front of the monument for weeks, essentially ruining a lot of people’s finishing photos and becoming a running gag on the AZT. So, we took a few more photos by the monument (now without a stupid Subaru in the background). The first hikers of 2021 to get their photos without it. Go, us!
After that, Ghosthiker sweet-talked her way into getting a hitch to Page, AZ with some day hikers, so she was the first to leave. I was very deliberately not thinking about it, but Bass had to go and say something about how Ghosthiker is really gone and the end is finally starting to feel real. I had to work to keep my emotions in check. We piled all our stuff in the back of Bass’s mom’s car and after she said it was no trouble, we all piled in so we could get dropped off at various locations along the way. Six hikers in the back, me and Bass up front. It felt like a clown car, we were so tightly packed in. It was hilarious.
Cameron was the first to get dropped off at a nearby trailhead just a mile or so from the monument. More hugs and goodbyes. Then it was off to highway 89 to drop off Willbo, Stumbles, and Oklahoma so they could get a hitch into Kanav, AZ. But before we got there, Sandra (Bass’ mom) said if we didn’t mind the tight fit, she’d take them all the way to Kanav! So, we rode like that for about half an hour!
We got to Kanav, ate Mexican food, then left the three other hikers there while the girls, Bass, and I got back in Sandra’s car and headed toward Vegas.
And that’s it. That’s the end of the hiking story.