The Summit of Katahdin

cropped-6123543341_797587dc7a_z.jpgTo the summit of Katahdin, that’s the place where I am bound.
I will hike into the forest, for six months I won’t be found.
Yet, I’m sure I’ll find adventure on the trail beneath the trees,
Yes, my body will be aching, I’ll complain about my knees.

I begin the trail in Georgia in the early months of spring.
Oh, the hills are just three thousand feet without a switch-backing.
Perhaps there might be snowfall, or some sleet and frigid rain.
I’ll complain about the weather, that’s what it takes to get to Maine.

I will carry tent and backpack and a pair of Leki poles.
I’ll be careful as I’m stepping over roots and rock and holes.
Buds will bloom and flowers blossom by the middle of the May
As I trek determined northward making miles along the way.

Photo courtesy of RyanLionZion at Flickr

Photo courtesy of RyanLionZion at Flickr

There’ll be bears and snakes and thunder, so the seasoned hikers tell.
But there’ll be some days of beauty as the woodland weaves its spell.
I’ll be happy, I’ll be lonesome, I’ll get angry and get mad
When I think of what I left behind, the only job I had.

Bugs will bite and flies will swarm, and the nettles they will sting.
There will be some days of tear-fall and there’ll be some days I’ll sing
As I enter to the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains grand,
There will be so many people who will lend a friendly hand.

Hitching into town for food and mail, a shower and a bed,
Back to forest I will wander, by some unseen spirit led.
Yes, Katahdin calls me onward as I walk this path each day,
Learning lessons, meeting people, seeing God along the way.

Folks will feed me (that’s “Trail Magic!”) and their kindness it will heal
All the things inside the cauldron of my soul that I will feel.
I will cross the Shenandoah through Virginia’s verdant land,
Touch the history of my country and its story is so grand.

Then the rocks of Pennsylvania they will rise beneath my feet.
There’ll be pain and blisters, testing, and some hardships I will meet.
But, the siren call breaks outward from the woods into the North
Going blaze by blaze I travel like a pilgrim going forth.

Photo courtesy iriskh at Flickr

Photo courtesy iriskh at Flickr

I’m companioned by the hikers who are headed there with me,
Testing all their brain and sinews, hiking hard and breathing free.
Yes, we’re looking deep inside us as we sweat and strain and fret,
Soon we’ll enter to New England but we aren’t there just yet.

Massachusetts, then Vermont, we pass, the days are growing brief.
In the months July and August we must pause to take relief.
For the mountains are quiet mighty and humility is due to those
All pervasive summits framed against the mighty blue.

Then into the great White Mountains we prevail and then we strive,
Giving them the honor due them, feeling great to be alive.
The steep slopes, and then the vista, nearly to the coast we see
As on Washington we linger, we are strong and we are free.

At last, to Maine we marvel at the lakes and loons’ night song,
We have paid a price to be here, to the forest we belong.
Folded deep into the wood now, camping by a lake at night,
We all share concluding stories, for the end is soon in sight.

cropped-atinnc-charliesbunionpanorama34.jpgThen one day we climb a summit, there we pause to take our rest,
And we see the Great Katahdin in a veil of cloud is dressed.
Oh the joy, the end is nearing, soon the summit we will climb!
But there’s sadness also nearing as our friends we’ll leave behind.

We have wandered wood together, been a family each and all,
Sharing all at once adventure, we have each one heard the call.
But our footfalls finally bring us to the peak and on the top
There are tears and there is gladness, and it feels too soon to stop.

What, my friend, is it — the “real world?” Is it trail and is it trials?
Is it walking till you’re weary, nought but racking up the miles?
Have we come so far to savor just a brutal exercise,
Or has this wild adventure made us better, made us wise?

Yes, I think you’ll know that answer, on the day that you descend.
And you’ll be a better person, and perhaps a better friend.
For this trail is there to teach you what a book just cannot tell,
There are things you only learn there, and I think it’s just as well.

cropped-pisgah_panorama_2-painting2.jpgAn anvil and a forge, the Trail is there to help you see,
To help you heal, reshape your life, to become all you will be.
And when your boots hang by their nail and backpack it is stored,
You will be a different person from the one you were before.

Copyright © 2013 by Timothy J. Hodges



Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Hiking, Long distance backpacking, Poetry, The Appalachian Trail, Timothy J. Hodges

4 responses to “The Summit of Katahdin

  1. sarahdancewrite

    Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. sarahdancewrite

    Reblogged this on Appalachian Trail 2014 and commented:
    This guy’s a poet for sure. Really beautiful piece on hiking the AT!

  3. I really appreciate your visits to my Smokies website. Thank you! Having lived in New England, I’ve climbed Katahdin by a few different routes. It is an incredible place. Come visit the Smokies sometime—I mean even in addition to the A.T. through there. The best places are actually very close to the A.T., but incredibly wild despite that proximity, such as climbing Charlies Bunion from the bottom (from Lester Prong).

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