September 23, 2015
Tentsite at Woody Pass (2649.2) to Manning Park – CANADA! (2668.7)
19.5 PCT miles today
2705.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 3,224 ft, – 5,956 ft
We did it!! We actually walked all the way from Mexico to Canada. The completion of this journey has left me speechless. There is no way to accurately put into words the amount of pride, joy, gratitude, and disbelief that I currently feel, but of course I will try. We woke this morning to some of the best views that we’ve had since the High Sierras and the final 12 miles that we hiked to the Northern Terminus at the U.S./Canada border flew by. After that, another 8 miles delivered us into the arms of Mama Bear and the warmth and comfort of a restaurant and room at Manning Park’s lodge. We thoroughly enjoyed our third day in a row of crisp, clear blue skies and, in looking back on today, could not have asked for a better ending to this adventure.
It was so cold this morning that we actually got to hike in our puffy jackets all the way to the border. The early morning sunrise colored the North Cascades in pinks and purples and in between constant stops for photos, Pickles and I randomly exclaimed our disbelief that today we would actually finish. We’d be hiking along when I would shake my head and simply state “wow”, and then a few minutes later Pickles would comment “Only a few hours left, can you believe it?” We passed a few more hikers (none of which we knew) that were coming back from the monument, and one couple informed us that we were quite close, but that we should be warned there was a trail crew doing some work, so we’d probably hear chainsaws before we saw the border. Our final approach did in fact herald the sounds of chain saws and shouting voices and what we found at the border almost trumped the actual monument. Two Canadian employees were chopping down trees and bucking them up less than 20 feet from the PCT monument. They didn’t look exactly professional, and they certainly didn’t act it. After taking quick notice of us, they began cursing and yelling at one another. The woman was dressed in such a ridiculous full-body Carhart suit that we actually considered for a moment whether or not this was some sort of skit that they were putting on just for us.
Needless to say, the arguing, interspersed with the wild flailing around of the chainsaw, was a bit distracting. We tried to ignore them as we hugged the monument, drank some PBR, ate a celebratory Snickers, and wrote in the register, but when our friend Milkman arrived about 20 minutes later, we took the opportunity to take a few photos and then move on. We felt eager to actually be done hiking and felt that making it to Manning Park, and seeing Mama Bear, might make for a more “monumental” finish.
The final mile, on a completely flat and well-maintained trail, may have been the longest of my life. New aches and pains actually manifested themselves in my knees, ankles, and even left foot that I had never felt before, and when we finally emerged from the forest out onto a road, I couldn’t have felt more relieved and ecstatic to see Mama Bear sitting in her Volvo waiting for us. We hadn’t had any reception since we last saw her in Steven’s Pass and we weren’t sure if she knew when to meet us, but based on her track record, we should have figured she’d be prepared. She greeted us with ringing bells, little “PCT finisher medals” that she made herself, shots of whiskey, and lots of congratulatory hugs and tears. It made for the perfect end to our journey, and finally helped the fact that we were done sink in. After greeting Milkman in similar style 20 minutes later, we all headed a mile down the road (in the car of course…no more walking for us) to the lodge. We spent the rest of this evening eating dinner, watching some incredibly touching videos that Mama Bear had put together for us, and resting.
If there was a Trail Angel of the Year award, it would have to go to Mama Bear. As an only child, who grew up in a predominantly single-parent household, I’m used to my mother being “highly involved” in my life, so I wasn’t all that surprised when she left her home in San Diego to join us for much of this adventure. From the start, Mama Bear has been a valuable and supportive aspect of our PCT hike. She has helped us in more ways than I could ever list here, but they include meeting us at trailheads, bringing us our rations, sharing hotel rooms with us, and keeping us well-fed while off trail. And of course, her role in this blog cannot be understated. When it was first discovered on day 2 of this hike that the WordPress app would not be a reasonable way for me to keep a daily blog, she eagerly volunteered to be my go-between and help post each daily blog. From that day forward, the blog has truly been a family affair. I write, Pickles takes most the photos, we send it all to Mama Bear when we have reception, and she posts the blogs so they come out on a daily basis. To top it all off, Mama Bear outdid herself with a slideshow of our entire trip that she had set to music (all songs about hiking) and a video compilation that included recorded congratulations from many of our favorite people. We will never be able to thank Mama Bear enough for all she’s done, but I can rest assured knowing that she has so enjoyed her trail angel role, and gotten so much out of this summer herself, that we’re not completely in her debt.
As this day draws to a close, I identify most powerfully with two emotions. One is my love for the Pacific Crest Trail and the other is my immense relief that Pickles and I made it to the end and can finally rest. I know that the days, weeks, and months to come will include much processing and reflection, but I also know that, some time very soon, I will need to make the transition into planning and preparation for our next adventure. One month from tomorrow, I have the privilege of marrying Pickles in North Lake Tahoe, and there is still much that needs to be done. Within that month we need to move into a home, get a car, and start working. The PCT may be over, but our life of adventure has only just begun. I plan on taking a break from the daily blog after tonight, but I will be back with occasional posts (including some more details about our gear) in the weeks to come. The next long-distance trip that we have planned will be a bike tour of New Zealand next fall, so keep us in mind and check back soon for more stories of adventure. Thank you for following us on our journey and we hope your own story finds you out on the trail, enjoying all that nature has to offer.
The completion of our 2015 thru-hike of the PCT is dedicated to our dear friend Susan and her 2-year-old son, Daniel. Daniel was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in April of this year, and we hope to help alleviate some of the financial burden of treatment by petitioning readers of our blog to please consider making a financial contribution to Susan and her family by going to this website: https://www.gofundme.com/t4mdbck. Any amount is greatly appreciated. Susan keeps an incredibly well-written blog documenting her journey that you can find at http://littledanielsbigadventure.blogspot.com. Daniel is a little fighter and we wouldn’t be surprised to find him out here on the trail one day. Thank you in advance for your generosity and may you and your family stay well.