Fifty-second (and last!) day R 8/27/20

START:  Pollywog Stream     2 am
2,203.6 miles     42.4  miles per day average (final)
Wonderful weather but a bit windy, and cool, above timberline

Jupiter’s alarm goes off at 1:20am after a 4+ hour of sleep under two blankets – one made of cloth and one made of stars. He opens the hatchback to awaken the ‘traveler on the way to becoming’. Last time working on the feet – they look pretty fine except for the big toe that looks like it is nine-months pregnant.
Jupiter watches wistfully as Mercury’s lights go off  into the dense fir forest in the early morning darkness. After two minutes he can see them no more. Sad that this will be the last that he sees such a sight so seeped in symbolism. Glad that Mercury’s self-imposed pain/suffering will soon be over 32+ miles away.
This long distance trail endurance hiking is positively addictive. It is real. It is raw. It is brutally honest. It is saturated with simple truth.
Jupiter believes that this is the real ‘Olympic ideal’.
Mercury negotiates a myriad of roots strewn across the footway careful not to aggravate THE TOE. She emerges out of the 100-mile ‘wilderness’ to gaze at the mountain rising a mile high above that marks her long journey’s end.
She climbs the rocky ridge with large jumbled boulders, some with metal rungs drilled into them, passing some day hikers who have turned back because of the wind. The previous 2,190 miles have prepared her for these conditions.
She flows across the ‘vast, titanic’ Tableland that spurned a disoriented Thoreau.
She sees the sign marking the northern terminus. And then it is at arms length. She reaches out,,,,she touches the final blaze at 4:30 pm – 51 days 16.5 hours after touching her first blaze 2,193 miles south on a misty, drizzly midnight hour on Springer Mt. in Georgia.
Mercury has experienced the heights – they will indelibly become part of her being. Over time, they will transcend the pain, the suffering, the tears, the fears that she experienced to get here.
Without struggle there is no growth.
“There is a curious paradox that no one can explain. Who understands the reaping of the grain? Who understands why Spring must be born out of Winter’s laboring pain. Or, why we must all die a bit, before we grow again?”
Mercury now descends to ‘Man’, as Mowgli did in Kipling’s classic Jungle Book.
Jupiter patiently awaits at the mountain’s base sitting on a mossy rock amid the ferns, firs and birches. Mercury appears. A long embrace when no words are needed.
Shared knowing smiles. We both get it. It’s done. It’s over.

In a few days, look for both Mercury and Jupiter’s reflection on this transit.
Be patient for it takes time to get a handle on something of this magnitude.
A document of Mercury’s transit on a daily basis will also become available in a few days for those that would like one.
Mercury can be reached at:
Jupiter can be reached at:

So ends, the 52nd, and last, daily dispatch of Mercury’s transit of the AT.



Who is Mercury?

Liz Derstine, trail name “Mercury”, is a distance runner, endurance hiker, writer, and musician residing in Boston, MA. She holds fastest known times for women on the Appalachian Trail (supported, northbound), Long Trail (self-supported), and Pinhoti Trail (self-supported).

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