Christi “Deva” Holmes Finishes the Appalachian Trail

2,181 miles. Done.

Maine was by far my favorite state. Having grown up in Maine, I am probably a little biased. Psychologically it was a big boost knowing, “Hey, I really am going to finish this thing.” I met quite a few south-bounders and many section hikers. They were easily to identify because they had HUGE packs and guts only a little smaller. They complained of aches and pains and blisters and told me I was hiking much too fast so wasn’t enjoying my hike. I offered encouragement and assured them I was enjoying my hike very much. Mahoosuc Notch was really exciting. Through the infamous “slowest mile on the Appalachian Trail (AT),” I had to crawl under boulders, take my pack off to squeeze between rocks, climb up using my hands, and slide down on my butt. I enjoyed the serenity that Maine offered and wished the entire AT was more like the 100 mile wilderness. I stopped almost every day to swim in the many lakes and ponds that the trail winds around. I often picked blueberries at lunchtime and one day even watched a young moose saunter down the trail. I camped at Antlers Campsite one stormy night and the watched the sunrise while listening to a family of loons the next morning. The night before I summited Katahdin I was a bit forlorn. My last night blowing up my sleeping pad, last campfire, and last time cooking dinner. I met my parents the following morning and we started up Hunt Trail. When my other AT friends caught up, I kissed my parents goodbye and told them I’d see them at the bottom (they didn’t plan on summiting). With strong seasoned legs, our group of ten ran past day hikers onto Baxter Peak. Though I had climbed Katahdin before, this time was different. It felt surreal as we climbed above 5,000 ft and into the clouds. The lifestyle I had come to know for the past 4 1/2 months was no more. My hike was over.

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After many photographs and some emotions, I turned my back to the white blazes and started down the Knife Edge. I cannot thank Hyperlite Mountain Gear enough for providing me with their gear and supporting me throughout my hike. Lightening my load saved my body, allowed me to hike faster and longer, and made my overall hike so much more enjoyable. Hikers realize that every ounce counts. A thru hike is especially taxing on your body because it’s so long. One extra pound may not seem like much, but over 2000 miles it certainly takes a toll on your body. I’m only 23 and used hiking poles but my knees ached when hiking downhill, and sometimes my back as well. After switching to Hyperlite Mountain Gear, I had no pain at all. Having such a lightweight tent and pack enabled me to hike much longer before getting tired. I proved this when, after taking four days off, I caught up to my friends in three days. When we pulled our first sun up to sun down 35 mile day with my new gear, I was surprised at how much better I felt at the end of the day. Before switching to Hyperlite Mountain Gear, I had only done two 30+ mile days and they were exhausting; by the end of those days my body and morale suffered. After making the switch, I still felt tired, but my feet didn’t hurt at I had more energy by the time we set up camp. I could hike faster and longer thanks to my gear. Because my base weight was so low, I could carry a few luxuries I hadn’t originally been carrying- a change of clothes to wear while doing laundry, swimsuit and extra food. Hyperlite Mountain Gear is worth the price and the customer service is outstanding. When Mike thought my first pack was too small, he immediately sent another. Even though I thought it fit great; turns out the second one rode even better. Because of their small size, Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s craftsmanship, attention to detail and product quality are exceptional. I can confidently say that my Hyperlite Mountain Gear products made my body felt great, boosted my confidence and made my thru-hike much more fun. Thanks Hyperlite Mountain Gear!

-Christi “Deva” Holmes, August 2011

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