The washer and dryer at the hostel was in use all of last night, so I did my laundry this morning, throwing my clothes into the washer while I went to get breakfast at the Appalachian Trail Cafe, just down the street, and owned by the same people as the hostel.
At the cafe, I joined Mothly Stud and his girlfriend, Little Debbie, who had hiked part of the trail with him, and summited with him yesterday. As luck would have it, they were going to a wedding in Vermont, and their route would take them fairly close to Andover, so they offered to give me a lift there so I could get my car. When I finished eating, I signed one of the many Class of 2016 ceiling tiles.
After my laundry finished and my pack packed for the last time, we set out on the three and a half hour drive from Millinocket to Andover, getting rained on for a while, and arriving at Pine Ellis in early afternoon. I hung out and chatted with the owners and staff there for a short while.
When I was getting ready to leave, it turned out that a hiker, Dakini, and her boyfriend, were waiting on a shuttle to Gorham. Since Gorham was on the way home, I offered to give them a ride, saving them the expense of a shuttle, and saving Pine Ellis’s shuttle driver a trip there and back.
The drive to Gorham took another hour, and I stopped by the White Mountain Hostel, since it was (literally) on the way, to check and see if the towel that I lost had turned up there. (It didn’t, but I didn’t really expect it to.) I dropped Dakini and her boyfriend off at their destination, a car rental place in Gorham, got a late lunch/early dinner at J’s, and then, after shuttling three more hikers from a convenience store to a hostel, began the long drive home.
As I drove south on the interstate along the Vermont/New Hampshire border, I got a great view of the sky and the mountains, and excepting the hike along the Washington-Clay-Jefferson-Adams-Madison ridge, this was the longest time I got to look at a wide open sky in a very long time. It felt freeing.
My original plan was to split the drive home into a multi-day trip, largely so I could visit the AT Museum at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania. As the sun set, largely ready to be Done and Home, I discarded that plan, instead deciding to simply drive directly home, stopping overnight at a hotel if I got too tired to continue.
I kept driving, though, stopping for catnaps, sodas, snacks, and even a meal at the rest areas along I-95 in New Jersey, finally arriving home a little after 4 am.
Now, it’s time for sleep, and relaxation, and things that don’t require physical activity for eight hours a day.