Friday, September 27, 2013

Thru-hiker completes her journey - By Michelle Libby

Amanda “Button” Butler is home in Windham after her 2,168 mile journey from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine following the Appalachian Trail (AT).
The final step

“It’s been weird not walking everywhere,” she said after she’d been home a week. 

With a group of 11 new hiking friends she’d been with for two months, Butler finished the hike on September 15 on a blustery, but sunny day on Katahdin.
Beginning of the trek
“It wasn’t as emotional as I thought it would be. There were a lot of people on the summit. Every time I thought of it (during the hike) I got goosebumps,” Butler said. Butler’s father also joined her for the final summit. 

The hardest part of the hike for her was the end. “Just having to walk every day. I never wanted to quit. I still had fun,” she said. “(Not taking a break was) a little bit to get it over with, but then again no one wanted it to end.”
Sightseeing above the tree line was nice, she said. “You see so many sights.” At the top of Wildcat Mountain across from Mount Washington a family gave her a cookie and that became a favorite moment on the trail. 

When the group reached Gorham, New Hampshire, Butler’s parents brought the group home to rest for two days after the White Mountains and before the southern Maine journey, which was exhausting, Butler said. 

“I don’t know if I’ll ever do another long distance hike. There’s the Pacific Crest Trail or some hikes in Europe that could be great. I’m going to wait a little while,” Butler said. Hiking the AT again is not on her agenda. “I would have to have a reason,” she said. “I’d rather do other trails before I did the AT again.” 

Off the trail she was just happy for a bed and a shower. “I was sick of smelling bad,” she said. 

Hiking made Butler more outgoing and gave her more confidence, she said. She also learned to survive minimally by not needing as much as she thought she did. Skills she will now bring to the job market are determination and sticking to her goals as well as social skills by being able to interact with so many unique people.

Her favorite part of the hike was Maine and the Bigelow mountain range because there were so many lakes in Maine. “I thought, I shouldn’t think it’s my favorite part because I’m from Maine, but it definitely was,” Butler said.
The food got marginally better once she started hiking with the group. Hummus became her lunch staple and she shared tacos, chicken, beans, guacamole and pasta with the group…”it allows you to be more creative. I don’t miss the trail food,” Butler said. 

Now that she’s home, she’s going to start looking for a job in environmental economics. “I’m a little excited. I haven’t really had a real job, so far,” she said. “It’ll be nice to have an income. I had a lot of hospital bills,” she added.
Most that hike the AT can complete it for around $3,000 and others spend more like $5,000 to do it more comfortably, Butler said. 

She recommends the trek to anyone who wants to try it, but if there’s not a commitment, “you aren’t going to finish. It’s definitely not for everyone,” Butler said. 

She started the trail on March 16, 2013.

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