9.25.18. 11 miles to border. 8.5 miles to Manning Park Resort.
The last morning on trail. My alarm went off at 5:00, like usual, and like usual, I went back to sleep until about 5:20, trying to keep warm. It was so cold! I raised my arm and felt the condensation that had turned to ice on my tent wall. Double Down woke up and yelled “good morning!” to me, and we chatted, getting ready, not believing, but pretty happy this was our last morning on trail.
We started walking together around 6:10, headlamps on, chatting about all of these “lasts” we were experiencing. The last wake-up, the last pop tart, the last sunrise, the last climb. The sunrise was truly beautiful. It was an amazing last morning on trail, despite how cold it was. We climbed the last climb together, less than 1,000 feet. I was marveling at the beauty, disappointed that I wasn’t able to see the Pasayten Wilderness from the PCT yesterday. As we reached the top, I passed Double Down since I’m faster at downhills than she is, and really took off. I saw a hiker I met back in Oregon who was making his way back to Hart’s Pass after tagging the border. I was only 6 miles away!
I passed the lake I wanted to camp at, happy that I stopped early yesterday since I had a gorgeous morning and would not have made it to camp there before dark if I kept pushing. It was all downhill from there to the border. It was so peaceful. I was trying to reflect on my whole hike up until that point, but I couldn’t really concentrate, too excited to finally reach the border. I passed the last campsite on the trail at the junction with the Pacific Northwest Trail. 3 miles to go!
I was really happy I kept my rain pants on all morning as the trail would pop out from the woods every so often and the overgrown brush was frosted. My pants looked soaked just from brushing up against the plants. The last 3 miles breezed by. Actually, the whole morning did. It was probably the fastest 11 miles I’ve ever hiked on the trail. Soon enough, I reached a little rock marker saying “1 mi left”. I had to pee, so took a quick pee break, knowing I wouldn’t want to at the terminus and wanting an empty bladder so I wouldn’t pee my pants with excitement at seeing it. The trail switchbacked down, every switchback I as wondering if this was it. I was trying to look at the mountains in the distance to see the clear cut of trees that signifies the border. And suddenly, I heard voices. I slowed down a little bit, turned the last switchback and saw the clearing.
I can’t really explain how I was feeling. I thought I would cry, but I didn’t. I walked right up to the terminus and touched it. Not really believing I was standing there, a place I’d seen in so many pictures. It was over. 2,652 miles of walking towards these wooden posts and there they stood. There were two other women there, having arrived just a little bit before me. I had them take my pictures with the monument. It was hard to climb since it was so icy! And the lowest post is so much higher than the one in the desert! After the photoshoot, I sat down next to them, reading through the trail log and adding my signature. I cheered as Cover Girl and Dune came up, then Double Down, and some other hikers I didn’t know. I hung out at the monument for almost an hour, until I couldn’t feel my fingers and toes anymore, and then walked into Canada.
Of course, the hike into Canada started uphill, but, as I had hoped, I barely felt like I was climbing. Once the trail emerged into the sun, I took off both sets of gloves, and my rain gear. It was hot! I also put on a podcast, something I had refrained from doing in the morning. It was 4 miles uphill, and went by pretty fast. At the top was a campsite with a pit toilet, which I used. My last pit toilet on trail! And then it was downhill. Pretty steep downhill at times, and my knees were screaming at me. I ran into Double Down as I was descending, and we walked together for a bit. And like no time had passed, I was at the road in the park! I laughed as I passed an elderly couple sitting in portable lawn chairs by the river, the man was shirtless and sun tanning. I guess this might be the last warm day in Canada? It was just a funny sight. I then walked a trail that paralleled the road, eventually getting onto the road and taking it all the way to the resort.
I could feel the emotion building in me as I was walking through the parking lot, trying to find my parent’s van. And then I saw my dad round the corner, and then my mom and Riley, and then I started crying. A lot. My parents had been so supportive of me this whole hike. Driving to meet up with me in places, mailing me things ASAP when I needed them, always throwing in things I didn’t ask for: dehydrated meals, cliff bars, and candy, FaceTiming with me in every town. They are my biggest fans. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them. After composing myself, we went to the van, and my mom handed me a gift: a custom-made wooden PCT trail sign from a company we follow on Instagram, with my trail name on the back. I started crying again. Once all the crying ended and I got my things loaded in the car, I realized I was really hungry. So we went to the restaurant and got some things to go, went back to the van, and took off for Seattle.
The border crossing at Sumas was pretty funny, as the agent couldn’t believe I hiked the length of the USA. He asked me lots of questions, which I sure is kind of a screening process, but made it sound like he was genuinely interested. He also asked for and took my Canadian Entry Permit paperwork (good thing I had it!). And then we were off to Seattle. Once we got to our favorite hotel in the U District, I peeled my dirty hiking clothes off of me (yes, I wore them the whole way back, I am hiker trash), threw them in a laundry bag, and showered for the first time in 10 days. I also got a good look at the bites I discovered on my thigh, and saw that they definitely had grown, so made a note to go to urgent care sometime while in Seattle. Then, we went to Staple & Fancy, an amazing restaurant, to celebrate finishing. It was pretty weird to think that I had woken up on trail, hiked almost 20 miles by 2 pm, and was sitting in a fancy restaurant eating the fanciest food in my favorite city, less than 12 hours after finishing the PCT.
I didn’t have that much time to process the completion of the trail today, but I’m sure I will in the days and weeks to come. I want to thank everyone who has read my blog, followed along on Instagram, sent packages and letters, and messaged words of encouragement. I want to thank the countless trail angels for the rides, the sodas, and the wonderful conversation. And to the PCTA, and its volunteers, for keeping this trail protected, maintained, and loved. The Pacific Crest Trail has undoubtedly changed my life, for the better. And even through all the times I cursed at the trail, hated the trail, hated the sun or the rain, I loved the trail, and wouldn’t change my hike for anything.