Submitted by Marit Fischer on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 13:12
Submitted by Marit Fischer on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 14:00
Karl and Billy hiked the last .9 mile to the top of Springer in the early morning moonlight. They stopped halfway up to crack open some beers, and then walked together slowly to the summit where Cheryl and Senior were waiting for them.
"Karl's a very happy man," said Billy. "He's so happy to be done. And I think he's really proud of himself for finishing this. He should be, man. To go on when the record was out of reach takes a man with some big balls and a big will. But he did it."
I talked to Billy a little before noon Eastern Time. Karl and the crew had all taken long naps and some good "real" showers and were headed out to find the "first best damn restaurant we can find."
Later today, Karl, Cheryl and Billy are driving to Memphis in The Rig to deliver Billy back home. Karl and Cheryl will stay the night there, celebrating with Billy and friends, before they head back West tomorrow.
I may hear from Karl this afternoon when they're on the road. If he doesn't sleep the whole way. If I do, I'll share some of his thoughts on the finish.
For now, though, that's a wrap. It's been a long, good, hard, entertaining, hackle-raising, inspiring, remarkable journey. And now it's over.
Huge thanks to all of Karl's crew, running mates and from-The-Rig supporters: Billy Simpson, Cheryl Meltzer, Karl Senior, Pam Meltzer, Matt Hart, Marit Fischer, Tommy Chandler, Jonny Atencio, Justin Barrell, Porscha Doucette, Greg Goodson, Sarah McConkie, John DeWalt, David Horton and High School Randy.
Thanks to all of you we met along the way, who shared your love and generosity with us: Trail Angel Mary, JJ, Lone Wolf, Mark and Erin Peters, Zig Zag June, Lane Vogel and the countless but unforgettable others who stopped in to say hello or to cheer Karl on his journey.
Thanks to all the supporters of the bearded variety, men and women alike. (The final beard tally, by the way, is 163.)
Thanks to all of Karl's AT thru-hike sponsors: Backcountry.com, Marmot, Moeben, SPOT, La Sportiva, V.I.O., First Endurance and Nathan Packs. You made this happen. Thanks also to PowerBar and nuun for the treats you sent to keep Karl going.
And to the Where's Karl? home team at Backcountry.com, you guys rock.
Most of all, thank you to all who visited this blog each day, whether you shared your comments or not. We're glad you came.
Now go hike your own hike.
Submitted by Marit Fischer on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 13:05
Official Start: Tuesday, August 5, 2008, 7:08 a.m.
Official Finish: Monday, September 29, 2008, 4:20 a.m.
Though the way it's been recorded on this site is deceiving, that's a total of 54 days 21 hours and 12 minutes.
Unofficially, Karl's is the fourth fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
In order, the fastest finishers:
Andrew Thompson: 47 days 13 hours 31 minutes (2005)
Pete Palmer: 48 days 20 hours 11 minutes (1999)
David Horton: 52 days 9 hours (1991)
Karl Meltzer: 54 days 21 hours 12 minutes
Scott Grierson: 55 days 20 hours 34 minutes (1991)
Jennifer Pharr Davis: 57 days 8 hours 35 minutes (2008)
(I've had to scrounge a little to find these times. Please feel free to let us all know if I missed someone.)
Submitted by Marit Fischer on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 11:33
I don't have the final finish time yet. Knowing Karl, I'm sure that after two tries to reach me atop Springer early, early this morning, he got frustrated, threw the phone into a pile of uneaten PBJs on the table, and went to bed. I have messages in to Billy and Cheryl and I'm positive that one of them will call me as soon as everyone wakes up and they have cell service.
Until then, we'll have to wait patiently for the actuals on Karl's thru hike, to find out exactly how long it took him.
I hope they're still sleeping.
Submitted by Marit Fischer on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 05:01
That's all I heard when I picked up the phone. It was Karl. Then the phone cut out.
I just love the fact that the cell phone reception is so bad that I can't connect to get all the details. Of course it is. Why should now be any different than the rest of this adventure? I just tried calling back.
"I'm all done!" he answered.
"Congratulations! How do you feel?"
I'm sitting here in the dark at my desk waiting for a txt or call back with the details.
Submitted by Marit Fischer on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 02:23
Karl and Billy left Hightower Gap at 1:41 a.m. "after several blister repairs to Karl's left foot and shoe modifications," Cheryl reported.
"Shoe modifications" usually means that they either cut a hole in the shoe to allow for more foot room, or they cut and reshaped the insole.
Karl affectionately calls his insoles "The DeWalts" because John DeWalt, the 72-year-old, strong-as-an-ox, tough-as-nails ultrarunner who's completed the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run – considered by most to be the toughest there is – an unbelievable and impressive 13 times, gave them to him, out of his own shoes, when he was with Karl through PA. The actual insoles that Karl's wearing now are replacements for the ones John gave him, but they're the exact same kind. "They're like running on carpet," Karl said, and they're kind of his good luck charm.
There are only 8.1 miles left to Springer now.
Karl says he's walking, but as Cheryl put it: "We'll see."
8.1 miles left. Out of 2,174. I cannot even imagine the emotion.
Submitted by Marit Fischer on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 22:22
Karl and Billy spent a few minutes refueling at Woody Gap and hit the trail again at 9:15. They have 11.8 miles to go to Hightower Gap. That's 19.9 miles left to Springer.
Seriously. 19.9 miles.
That. Is. All.
Many of you have written that you don't know what you're going to do when this is over. I'm with you, friends. It's been a fun ride. It's been a roller coaster, for sure, with some serious ups and downs and twists and loops. But I love roller coasters and this has been the best one I've ever been on. I know already that I'm going to have a severe case of PWKD – Post Where's Karl Depression – when tomorrow comes and Karl is not out there running anymore.
The last day I was on the trail with Karl we talked about his posting about his experience on this site. He is planning on it. It may be a few days, but he is looking forward to sharing his thoughts on the journey once he has had a bit of time to rest and process it all.
More on his progress to Springer soon. Please stand by.
Submitted by Marit Fischer on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 19:02
Karl just left Neels Gap at 6:10 p.m. and the word is that there will be no stopping until the finish line.
Billy joined him at the last waypoint, 6.2 miles back at GA 348 - Hogpen Gap, and will continue to run with him through the night.
Karl feels great and has been averaging a pace in the high threes, but is predicting a slow down through the night. He thinks he'll get to Springer around 4 a.m. Billy doesn't think it will take that long. Just FYI, Billy is a pro at gauging Karl's pace based on terrain and fatigue level and, while I was with him, pegged Karl's arrival time within two minutes at every single stop. I'd put my money on Billy this time too. Plus, since you and I are so good at math and figured in my last post that 4 a.m. is on the slow end of things, we know as well that they'll most likely get there before 4.
Cheryl, Senior and Pam are all well, and are ramping up for the long haul ahead. No rest for Karl means no rest for the crew either.
Cheryl sounded excited, but she knows well: "It's going to be a very long night."
They're planning to catch up with Karl and Billy at Woody Gap ten miles up, then Hightower Gap, then Pig Stamp Gap. And then on to Springer.
Sorry guys, because he's going to be running in at a time that my grandmother would call "an ungodly hour," it's not going to be a photo op finish or one that many of you will get to see. But you can't really blame him. He's ready to be done.
He's tired. His body hurts. He's pretty much sick of running. He wants to go home. He wants to sleep in. He wants to catch up with all his coaching clients that he's had to neglect the past two months. He wants to veg out in front of the television and watch Seinfeld reruns. He wants to reflect on this whole adventure on his back patio, looking out on the fall colors splatter-painted on the Wasatch Mountains.
Nah. You can't really blame him.
Cheryl will be calling and txting me throughout the night. Each time I hear from her, no matter what time it is, I will post an update.
Here we go.
Submitted by Marit Fischer on Sun, 09/28/2008 - 12:21
Ok. Let's do a little math together.
(If you haven't picked up on this yet, math is not my strong point so bear with me. And please be kind if I mess it up. Math is the reason I'm a writer, not a banker. Ask my dad.)
If Karl just can't bring himself to stop again before Springer, and he maintains his established pace of 3.5–4 mph to cover the 82–83.5 miles between Deep Gap and Springer Mountain (I've seen two listed mileages between these two points), the soonest he'll be there is 12:30 a.m. Monday morning. That's aggressive.
If he goes non-stop, taking into consideration his pace range and the distance discrepancies, chances are he'll get there between 12:30 and 4 a.m.
Even if he goes straight through, he may want to rest a bit en route, with longer crew stops or a nap. There's also a chance that he'll sleep for the night. I'd guess that that chance is slim at this point, but I'm obviously not Karl, I'm not out there, I'm editorializing, and it very well could happen. I promise I'll post something as soon as I hear.
Thanks to all of you who are still here, still reading, still following along. Thanks for all your support.
He is almost there.