Pacific Crest Trail

It is all over now

SPOILER ALERT: This is the last chapter in my PCT thru-hike diary, so there are some pretty major spoilers ahead. You might instead want to start from the beginning.

Day 139

It rained more or less all night, which was a first, but everything stayed nicely dry in my tent. Nice to know that the tent you’ve been carrying for almost half a year actually works. He he.

When I awoke in the early morning, the winds were still gushing, the rain still pouring, and the temperatures barely above freezing. As I had ample time today, I opted to sleep in one additional hour In hopes that the inclement weather situation would improve. No such luck, though I was lucky to only get rained on half of the time when I was digging a cat hole. I did everything possible in my tent even eating, which I would otherwise never do, because of the scents of food possibly being picked up by bears or rodents, but guess what, this was the last night in my tent. When I got going it luckily didn’t feel as cold as I had feared, but then again, I was wearing most of my clothes under my rain gear. On the other hand it was a bit more painful in the beginning than the last couple of days, but not terribly so, which was nice, because that was the only thing I had kind of feared having possibly pushed a bit too many miles yesterday.

In the beginning of today’s hike, there was a slight ascent and, lo and behold, the rain turned to sleet. Shortly afterwards, though, it stopped raining and cleared up a bit allowing for a couple of nice views before the trail descended. It was all downhill from now, the last eight or so miles to the border. As I ascended, the temperature increased and eventually it even got warm enough for shorts and a shirt.

At one point I looked at my phone and there was only about one hour of hiking left. That was when I finally said to myself, that there was no freaking way that this was going fail. I couldn’t help but smile thinking of it all. I stopped looking at the map, paused my music, and just took in the very last section of the trail. Somewhat later I saw a long and perfectly straight tree-less line on the mountain opposite me and thought, hey, I know what this means. A few switchbacks later and I was finally there, at the border of Canada next to the monument at the northern terminus of The Pacific Crest Trail. I planted my hand very solidly on the monument to make it official, which made one of the other hikers there laugh. It is done. It is all over now. I felt that for a brief moment I was the king of the Pacific Crest Trail, and the next person to complete their through hike by reaching the monument would be my successor as the next king or queen. For me, Canada is now within walking distance of Mexico. That’s 2653 miles in four and a half months forming a continuous footpath between the borders. I’ve encountered the heat of the Californian deserts, snowy mountain passes, rattle snakes, bears, poodle dog bush, poison oak, gotten a scar on my shin, met so many great people, and had innumerable great experiences. Now, how does that stack up against Sam and Frodo from The Lord of the Ring? They allegedly did their 1350 mile hike from The Shire to Mount Doom in six months. Admittedly, their perils might’ve been “slightly” worse with orcs and those nasty ring bearing foes on horses. Ha ha!

Jokes aside, let’s get back to the main narrative. The two other hikers at the monument were a Belgian couple, but they soon left. I signed the trail register and looked a bit back and saw entries from Oldtimer, Bandit, and RapidRabbit. It was starting to rain again, though, so I put the book back again without looking further in it, so that it wouldn’t get ruined. A bit later, four other hikers popped up, one of which surprisingly was the shouting man from Julian. He fortunately was in a good mood now, though. People were taking pictures, smoking some of the weed hidden next to the book, drinking champagne or whiskey. Me, I hadn’t bought any alcohol, but remember those traditional hard Danish sweets, that I had meant to give to Scout and Frodo called “the king of Denmark”? Probably not. Well, I had eaten all but one of them and carried it all the way from Mexico. I ate that one sitting next to the monument.

I spent quite some time there, on the border to Canada. I felt that I had gained something big but also lost something major. I wanted to stay there in some kind of suspended animation. I never wanted that moment to end, as it would be the goodbye to the great experiences, the people I liked to randomly bump into from time to time, and the return to everyday living.

I want the moment I had at the monument to be what I leave you with, so I’ll keep the description of the trivialities that followed short: I hiked eight miles into Canada, slept at a hostel there, and got a hitch to Vancouver the next day. The hip pain got worse the two days after I completed the trail, but then quickly got better.

Thanks to all the friendly people who’ve given me rides, the kind people who’ve done trail magic, the trail maintenance volunteers, Scout & Frodo, the splendid hikers I’ve met here, and The Pacific Crest Trail Association. The trail wouldn’t be possible or at least not nearly as enjoyable without them.

That’s all for now!

This day’s miles: 2641-2653 (plus eight miles to get back to civilization in Canada’s Manning Park)

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