Day 157 (Wednesday, October 13): a spot south of Woody Pass, 2642.7 to Monument 78, Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail, 2655, into Canada, Manning Provincial Park, to 2663, British Columbia Highway 3 @ Manning Park Resort
This is Monument Day! The end of a 5-month, 3- day journey of a lifetime! I hope you enjoy this story! To all my faithful readers, family, friends, and silent supporters, my thanks for 5 months of encouragement, interest, and sticking with me!!!!!
For the third night in a row, sleep was a second thought. It was too cold, in the first place, and in the second place, I was full of end-of-trail butterflies. I was up at 3:15. I typed a story into this iPhone and then dozed a bit. I woke up again at 5:30. Shake’n'Bake was already packing up, followed up by Wide Angle and Flyboy. I decided to take down my tent and enjoy a final hour of cowboy camping. In front of me was a wall of crumbly black rock with a single hanging snowfield. Somewhere in there was an abandoned section of probable deathly trail. There were still a few stars out. I was able to answer a question that Shake’n'Bake had posed the night before at the campfire: “What will you miss most from being out here?” For me, it would be cowboy camping. Camping and cooking dinner, hanging out with friends under the stars. This was the element that will send me out for overnight or weekend warrior trips when the weather is good. Cowboy camping. Who needs tents, really.
I enjoyed that last hour immensely. I made coffee over my little stove, finished my cinammon roll from the Stehekin Bakery, and took bites out of a stick of butter as I was eating chocolate donuts. This kind of thing will not fly on Weight Watchers- I’m lucky if I’m allowed to put a tablespoon of olive oil into a pot of cabbage soup.
The climb up to Woody Pass was short. We had done half or more of it yesterday. The weather window stayed open, as the weather people had promised. We’d have a sunny exit of the United States and a sunny entry into Canada.
At Woody Pass, the views opened up to North Cascades National Park to the West. Range upon range I could see, some dusted with snow, others packed tight with evergreens. Then began a traverse of the Lakeview Ridge. Although this was considered a 500-foot climb, I couldn’t tell. There was too much to process to worry about muscle aches. Gravity could kiss my fashizzle on Day 157. At Mile 2645, I passed over an unnamed pass at 7,200 feet. This was the beginning of the descent to Monument 78 at the US-Canada border. My dad had been asking me about getting above 7,000 feet for about a month. Had it been snowing, being at this elevation, completing the trail might have been in jeopardy. The trail immediately beyond was thin and rocky, and very exposed. A slip in snow on either side of the ridge was certain death over a cliff into Hopkins Lake or down a scree-filled ravine. But there would be no dying today, only intense enjoyment and celebration.
At Castle Pass, the trail turned North-Northwest. This was the homestretch, 4.1 miles of it, although I didn’t know this mileage at the time. At the turnoff for Ross Lake, a wood sign indicated the US border coming up. The next miles were spent looking far downtrail and around the bends for Monument 78. This went on for over an hour and a half. Then I saw a line down a mountainside, about 30 feet wide, clearcut of trees. I knew this was the border line. The trail abruptly began to descend on a few final switchbacks. And there it was, Monument 78 at the US-Canada border. Next to it, the PCT Monument marking the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail.
I erupted into the most spirited display of joy in my life! With my walking sticks in my hands, arms outstretched, I yelled at the top of my lungs. I went over and hugged the PCT monument. Wide Angle, Flyboy, and Shake’n'Bake were there to congratulate me, and I, them. In an instant, an alien march lasting 157 days that traversed deserts, snowbound passes, forested canyons, and volcanic ranges was over. The feeling was amazing. Their cameras will have it captured best, that moment when I crossed the border. For the next 10 minutes, they snapped pictures. What a moment, what a day!
Fifteen minutes later, Shake’n'Bake and Flyboy took off and Flyboxer rolled in. We had stayed quiet so that he might enjoy the surprise on his own, and it worked- he had his moment of surprise and celebration. We let him react and then cheered him on, exchanging hugs. The feeling of disbelief at reaching this endpoint was mutual.
We took more glory shots at the monuments. We made Wide
Angle remove his shirt and climb the monument, baring his chest showing “I DID make it Billygoat! October 13, 2010.”
Leaving the border point, Flyboxer and I entered Canada for the final 8 miles, out of the woods, to Highway 3 and Manning Park Resort. Now walking on Canadian soil, Windy Joe Pass was the final climb, the final obstacle. By the time we began our descent to Highway 3, my legs were already thinking ‘vacation.’ A hot tub was sounding really good, and it was just around the corner.
Congratulations to all who stayed true-to-the-thru, those who flip-flopped, and all of us who chipped away at the 2,655-mile PCT, day by day, mile-by-mile. It wasn’t easy. Some were injured, others surrendered. Some tried for a PCT thru-hike for a second, third, fourth, or fifth time, having failed previously. My heart goes out to them. Completing a thru-hike of the PCT is an achievement unlike any other. According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, more men and women have summited Mt. Everest than have thru-hiked the PCT. This is a tribe I’m proud to belong to!
10 May 2010, Campo, California, US-Mexico border
13 October 2010, Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada, US-Canada border