20 miles, Ross Lake Alternate
Rainy Pass – East Bank Trail Trailhead
I can hardly believe it. I’m in the Pickle Jar with Aloha and Tears as I write this. The Disco Pickle is road-tripping… to… Canada. It’s 11:25 pm and we’re on the… road? Sigh… wasn’t I supposed to have originally reached that monument today after hiking by foot? After a great day on the Pacific Crest Trail? Sometimes things just don’t pan out at ALL how you imagine.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel like a failure – at all – but I am working through a lot of emotions about everything I’ve been through this past week.
I imagined, or daydreamed, as I hiked mile after mile for over 160 days about what that day might be like – what it might feel like. The day I complete my PCT hike. I never, ever… in my wildest dreams… thought the adventure would end like this (it’s not quite over, but…). I was denied first by storms. Then we grouped up, coordinated and head out into the weather and trudged through waist-deep snow only to be turned around. Then we took an alternate. A detour including a road walk that would have to do. I came to terms with the decision. Then… were we really denied our goal because of a government shutdown? For real? Is this really happening?
After twenty miles hiking on a hard paved road in on-and-off rain, we finally arrived at the trailhead where we were about to head into the woods for the last thirty miles to Canada. We’d camp one more night in the states… in the woods under a cold Washington rain. We met Aloha and Fun Size’s girlfriend, Laura there, geared up and were almost ready to go when a white Park Ranger SUV pulled up. We joked that we were going to get kicked out. Yes, we joked. I was warming up in the car while a few other hikers talked to the rangers. It looked as though it was going fine. Laura came over to us and through the car window she looked at us and just said, “I’m sorry, you guys… this is it.”
Crushed. She wasn’t joking and neither were those rangers. Their arms were folded and they just kept shaking their heads and apologizing. We wished they would just turn their backs as we snuck through, but they were faithful to their careers and wouldn’t budge.
As the two rangers continued to place temporary barricades around the trail entrance with yellow “do not enter” tape, a group of about ten of us just glanced around at each other, dumbfounded with eyes full of tears. This was really it. We hugged, we discussed options even though we knew we’ve already gone over them all, and decided to take some finale photos. We made the best of our situation in our limited time. We were told we needed to vacate the premises. We piled into the cars we had there and dispersed.
So we started the day with high spirits again, hiking along the road laughing, smiling, getting wet in the rain and collectively complaining about the pavement killing our feet. We ended once again in tears and disappointment. I’m mentally exhausted, physically tired, and I’m so ready to find the satisfying end to my hike. The plan now, which I feel satisfied with, is to drive to Canada, specifically Manning Park. Tomorrow morning Tears and I will hike the eight miles in to see the monument, take our finish photos, hike back out, celebrate a little, then go our separate ways until we meet up again back home. There’s other details in there to meet back up with Cuddles, Atlas and Manchurian who were lucky enough to get on trail before it closed, but I’m taking this all one small plan at a time.
It’s been another tough day for all of us, but I’m pretty darn excited to see that monument tomorrow, and I think the next thing I’m most excited to do is sleep in. A lot. This girl needs a good, long rest!
Tonight I love Canada! We’re here, eh!
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!