Finishing the JourneyAfter I made it through the halfway mark I had the pleasure of hiking the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia where I finally caught a glimpse of a rangy black bear- the only one I would see the entire trek.
Accustomed to the constant presence of rugged A.T. sign post and his trusty hiking stick 2.0 Chad "Octo" Haynes enjoyed the views afforded by the pristine Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.
In the misty Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Chad "Octo" Haynes caught a glimpse of the only bear he would see during his whole trek- a rangy black bear.
During the second half of his trek, Chad "Octo" Haynes utilized many of the hiking shelters available along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.
After thrashing through a pair of Reebok ATV's through the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail, Chad "Octo" Haynes had the chance to break in a new pair in Virginia.
Chad "Octo" Haynes was able to enjoy the best views the Shenandoah had to offer, including Dragon's Tooth.
By the time Chad "Octo" Haynes made it through Virginia he had a respectable beard worthy of any rugged trail.
Sometimes a beard isn't enough! Chad "Octo" Haynes had to don winter gear while trekking through North Carolina.
Beards are a wintertime necessity!
Chad "Octo" Haynes's trail friend “Socrates” enjoys the view on the deck of a fire tower in the Smokies of Tennessee.
The sunrise there was among the best on the trail…
While trekking through the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee Chad "Octo" Haynes and his trail friends were able to catch panoramas of the best sunrise on the trail.
Chad "Octo" Haynes's trail friend “Dirty” tried in vain to find a signal in the smokies of Tennessee.
In the smokies we experienced the icy-cold beauty of Tennessee in winter!
Not a stranger to icy temperatures Chad "Octo" Haynes enjoys the snow in the Smokies of Tennessee.
Chad "Octo" Haynes and his trail-friends had to endure snow drifts of up to 4 feet, dumped by the winter storm Jonas.
Finally out of the snow on the other side of the Smokies, we started to taste the finish.
“Socrates” and “dirty” on the down side of the smokies enjoying the last of winter storm Jonas's snowy wrath.
At the final state line in Georgia, we sang and danced like idiots and listened to every song about Georgia we could think of. It was one of the best moments on the trail!
Chad "Octo" Haynes and his trail friends "Dirty" and "Socrates" enjoy passing their final state line into Georgia.
The "tree where hiking shoes go to die" outside of an outfitter in Neal's Gap, Georgia.
After all 2,185 miles, I had finally earned my Appalachian Trail patch!
After through-hiking 2,185 miles along the rugged Appalachian Trail of the East Coast, Chad "Octo" Haynes makes it to Georgia and earns his patch and a place in the trail book.
That night, the final night on the trail, we all gathered around the fire and enjoyed our victory!
Chad "Octo" Haynes and his trail friends “Dirty” and “Socrates” around the fire on their last night completing the Appalachian Trail.
I completed the trail on Feb. 13th 2016 at Springer mountain GA. I am proud to be the first person to through-hike using SMr gear, I loved sleeping in the Pares Hammock and Nubé Shelter!