I completed the Appalachian Trail on Aug 20, 2023.

The sun had yet to rise, it was a normal start for “Brawn” and “Dudley”. We broke camp before anyone else was stirring and began our final ascent of Mount Katahdin by 6 am. It was rainy and cold, and the rocks were slippery, this was not an issue for the pair of seasoned and determined thru-hikers.

We were tired and wanted to go home, and this mammoth mountain was the last barrier of the Appalachian Trail. Nothing would stop us.

Brawn, Race Horse and Dudley at the Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail – Aug 20, 2023


Let’s catch you up!

I originally planned a 2020 thru-hike. All the ducks were lined up and everything looked good. It was the summer of 2019 and I was so excited.

  • 2019 Oct 15 – I was struck with a mysterious inflammation in my legs, however with much medical intervention, and a tad of luck, I was healed and right as rain for a spring 2020 start. 
  • 2020 Mar 20 – The COVID pandemic hit the world and everything shut down. My hike was cancelled!
  • 2022 Apr 6 – My AT adventure would begin. I started from Springer Mountain in Georgia and headed north.
  • 2022 Jun 11 – COVID struck. I was sick and forced off the trail at mile 1069. The symptoms kicked my butt. It appeared my AT dream was over.
  • 2022 Sep 15 – Recovered and new plan. I registered a flip-flop to complete the AT. Starting at Katahdin and hike southbound to mile 1069 – where I left the trail earlier in the year. I was slow to recover from COVID-19 and was forced to cancel again!
  • 2023 Jun 11 – I restarted my AT adventure where I left the previous year – on the same date and mile marker.
  • 2023 Aug 20 – I reached the summit of Katahdin. Completing all 1998 miles of the Appalachian Trail

The First Half

The first half has already been documented in a previous post. Springer Mountain to the Masson-Dixon line, some 1069 miles. My spirit wanted to go on but COVID had grabbed me and kicked my butt. With much regret, I was forced to stop the hike on June 11, 2022.

Where I finished the first half in 2022 and restarted again in 2023

The Second Half

It was another year and my burn to complete the AT was hot. I restarted the hike on the same date and location I left the trail the previous year.

I rented a car, packed my gear and drove to the Masson-Dixon line – the Maryland/Pennsylvania border. It was a later start than I wanted, but I picked this date to create a continuity, almost as if I had never left the trail some 12 months ago. The weather and hiker bubble would be the same as “never leaving the hike”.

So when someone asked me when I started the AT, I could say “April 6th”, it would be both true and consistent with my northbound journey – with a 12-month gap! In other words, if I was fortunate enough to complete the trail this time, my end date would be consistent with the days on the trail of a regular calendar year thru-hiker. It wasn’t perfect, but it helped!

Taking a break on the bridge at the Vermont / New Hampshire border – 2023

As it turned out, this plan would be great.


I started the hike solo, but I was never really alone. This is one of the things about the AT, good or bad, there are lots of folks on the trail. Some days I could meet no one, and other days, hundreds of thru, section or days hikers.

The weather was generally good. Some rain, cold, hot, clouds and sun. The bugs were minimal, and the terrain was as expected. There was however a mess in central Vermont – record flooding. This delayed my hike for a few days in Hanover and forced me to re-route part of my hike. This was all part of the adventure and in hindsight, it enhanced the adventure!

Many of the miles on the AT are much like the others. Rolling hills, small mountains, forests and streams. Yet when I got to New Hampshire, my legs were challenged and my spirits soared. It was hard, hard and hard, yet stunning. My favourite leg of the journey by far. The mountains slowed me down, but this didn’t bother me, I loved every moment.

Then came Maine. I both loved it and hated it. There were some beautiful hikes and some muddy messy hikes, every day was different and always a surprise. Normally this backpacking jack-in-the-box would be fun, but I was tired by this point and eager to be finished.


Although I started the adventure solo, I was rarely alone. I made some good friends and associated with many interesting folks from all over the world. Often I would hike with someone for a few days, part ways for whatever reason, and a month later we would meet again at a hostel, in town or at a shelter. The trail was magical that way.

M&M, Dudley and Canoe – 2022

Some of my favourite people on the trail I would never know their real “government names”. I only ever knew them by their “trail-name” – another strange yet wonderful thing about the trail. We rarely talked about jobs, politics or religion. Our trail-self was our boiled-down true essence, not tethered by the baggage of the “real world”. Rich with poor, unemployed and retired, students and convicts… it didn’t seem to matter. On the AT we all shared the same pains, challenges and joys.

My favourite folks for all 2198.4 miles included: Best Friend, Chill Dude, Bud, Smoke Meat, M&M, Canoe, Pinky, Sound Bite, Carlos, Brawn and so many other wonderful people. These fine folks I shared many miles on the trail.

Dudley with Carlos – NY State 2023
Pinky – one of my favourite people on the trail – Vermont 2023
Dudley and Brawn, we leaned on each other during the last 3 weeks – Maine 2023

Final Thoughts

I will wrap up the whole thing with 3 feelings; monotony, pain and joy, and there was so much of each.

The trail at times seemed to be unrelentingly monotonous. The same thing every mile, and every day. Then there was the pain. There is so much pain. My knees constantly ached, my plantar fasciitis had flared up, and there were always nagging bumps, bruises, blisters, bug bites and injuries.

Yet it was the Joy that kept me going, and what I most remember. If you can get past the monotony and pain, the joy is unmatched.

Unknown 2

Watch the complete video series of Dudley’s Appalachian Trail adventure on YouTube – see the Appalachian Trail Diaries



No responses yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





Many of our adventures and random thoughts are captured with video and available on our YouTube channel


Don’t miss anything, 
Subscribe to our newsletter today.