After hiking through 14 states, all the way from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail has finally come to an end. I reached the Northern Terminus on September 15th, 175 days after I started walking north in GA. I don't think I'll ever be able to put into words what an experience this has been. A combination of the highest of highs, lowest of lows, and a whole bunch of dirt. My favorite
Of course the day was memorable - I had just completed a 6 month journey but what made it really special was who I got to end the end with. My 'trail family' & I all summited Mt. Katahdin on the same day - some of who were my first friends on trail way back in Georgia. We'd been hiking on and off together for the better part of 2,000miles and sharing the summit with the group was incredible!
But the cherry on top of it all was the fact that my parents both made the hike up to the top to share the occasion!!! This was not a walk in the park either - they took the 'easiest' trail which is anything but. It was 10 miles of nearly vertical rock climbing to get to the top. They made it up 5 minutes before our agreed upon turn around time - I most definitely cried when I saw them pop over the horizon.
Some of the fine folks I met at Worlds and I took off on a mini Italian adventure...we popped up to Lake Como and boated around some of the most beautiful country I've seen. Swam and lazed around there for two days and then made our way south to the Italian Riviera for Portofino and Cinque Terre. Absolutely gorgeous! We did the hike to all 5 towns, not as leisurely as expected but that made it even more of an adventure. Beautiful cliff sides overlooking the Mediterranean and tons of vineyards and little hillside farms. Camped and made good use of the tent for another couple of nights, ate some amazing food and loved every second.
Worlds! My next destination. I've been looking forward to this since Candace & I started the trip. It's the biggest Ultimate event of the year where the top Club and National teams from all over the world meet up for a week long tournament. It happens every two years and they always pick a pretty sweet venue to host. This year it was Lecco in Northern Italy...not too shabby playing with the Italian Alps as a backdrop. The region had experienced a whole bunch of unseasonal rain which caused a bunch of issues...a flooded athletes village, power outages, and some of the worsts field conditions I've seen. They had to resort to calling in a heli to blow off some of the water on the fields..pretty extreme but necessary. I was invited to play with the Israeli Mixed National team again but couldn't convince myself to shell out the 900$ bucks to do so. Especially when I could volunteer and get free accommodation, food, and transport all in exchange for watching ultimate all day. Not a bad deal if you ask me. It wasn't all easy going though, lots of mud and manual labor especially in the days leading up to the tourney. Lots of perks from the hard work, like being on the field and scoring all four finals! I met some of the best people, other volunteers and players from allll over. Even met up with some familiar faces from the US Masters team Boneyard.
This super nice Danish couple was able to host us in Grenoble so we made the drive down from Paris to spend some time in the Alps! The house was absolutely gorgeous...nestled right into the mountains and overlooking the city, totally picturesque. We got to swim and play with their ginormous black lab, even had a home cooked meal al' fresco. Living the good life that's for sure.
We woke up to catch the sunrise from one of the peaks our first morning, just a brisk hike up through some really pretty trails....wish I knew the elevation but we were up there. Didn't see much of the sun because of the cloud cover but it was still pretty spectacular!
The city of Grenoble was a pleasant surprise...didn't know what to expect but it turned out to be full of young people and cool little bars. There was a big music festival going on in the main square we checked out for a while and I had one of the best meals of the trip so far.
Ah...Pair'ee! Oh course we had to go! Both Thomas and I had been before but it had been a while and was quite a different trip than mine with my mom & nana and his with his gradeschool class. He got us this amazing apartment right across from the Louvre...primo location & super cool! It was an old wine cellar that had been converted into a sweet modern apartment. Oui la la!
I forget how many nights we had here but we saw a lot of the city...we decided to spend more time on some of the lessen known Paris parts than the big stuff we'd seen before. Of course we sat by the Eiffel and pinic'd in the Tuileries Gardens by the Louvre (how could you not) but we also went to this crazy underground breakdance art house and saw some great concerts in different parks. We ended up biking a lot of the city which I'd totally recommend.
Didn't really have a plan from here...just to keep heading south!
Brussels is only 3 hours from Amsterdam...3 hours! That's nothing! Everywhere seems so accessible once you're over here it makes you agree to spontaneous roads trips to Italy. Belgium was our first stop and we purposely got lost on our way to see more of the country and ended up finding this cool little lake where we spent the afternoon.
We made it to Brussels around 6 and except for the blackberries we had at the lake we hadn't eaten anything all day...we were starving! And all the restaurants around our flat were closed, at 6! Weird intro to Brussels but after walking around for forever we found a little Chinese place and ordered who knows what in mine and Thomas's pretty nonexistent French. Yum, yum!
We rented this super cool flat in the trendy St. Guilles neighborhood which turned out to be perfect! It was right by the biggest park in the city and we found ourselves there all the time. I'll never forget the little French boy who joined us while we were throwing and blew us kisses when he had to leave. I think my heart has been a little melted ever since.
We only had three nights in Brussels and had to leave early on the last day to head to Paris but I feel like we saw everything. The little boy peeing (weird its so famous, and even weirder that they dress him up), the gorgeous main square, and some beautiful cathedrals and parks...even sat in on a wedding because why not!