8 miles + 8 back (Miles 2668.1 – 2660.1)
Gibson Road – Monument 78
I kind of wish I could say I was a rebel, but I just wasn’t comfortable with pushing my luck, unfortunately. I didn’t break any laws by powering through the last 30 miles of a federally shut down national park. Gah… so dumb. Our group was warned already not to enter with appropriate actions taken if we did. We even tried to give the rangers a sort-of ultimatum – “it’s either this trail or we head back up in three feet of snow north of Rainy Pass.” As it turns out, the PCT is closed there, too. Shoot! Even that strategy was shot down. We were all exhausted… not just from hiking in snow and pavement only to be stopped after both tiring events, but mentally we were all done. We did what we could. It was time to finish our PCT hikes the best way we all individually knew how and start dreaming up our next grand adventure.
Since we were cut a day short on our alternate route, Tears and I decided we’d use that time to head to the northern terminus monument, which is a16-mile round trip hike. Whoa… a day hike, basically? Awesome!
So after getting into Canada very late, we got to a hotel where we slept only a few hours, woke up and drove a couple more hours to Manning Park. We jumped on the trail at about 10am and hiked our way, tiredly, up the trail. It was a wide trail leading up to Windy Joe Mountain, and the trail was clear of snow, but wet. As we climbed we saw more and more snow accumulation, the deepest being arounf 6″. The sun peeked out on and off, melting the snow clumps that heavily hung off pine branches. It was a winter wonderland with those heavy snow clumps plopping down in the forest, along the trail, and even down the back of my neck a couple of times. Brr!
Once at the Windy Joe Mountain trail junction, we started a gradual descend, and then Lionheart came up behind us! It was SO good to see her! We were both kind of hoping we’d see other hikers to share the moment with. As we hiked on, Tears and I were both sleep deprived, exhausted, and it was tough to really put our feelings into perspective. I silently tried really hard to figure out what I felt. This was a pretty big deal. I was hiking south to the monument, but I was still unsure if I’d go back and hike more or not. I just kind of felt numb about it all… and tired. I hoped I’d see that monument and it would all come together.
And it did.
We rounded a bend and came to a small opening. There it stood. Large wooden tiers with small American and Canadian flags sticking out from one tier, a large Pacific Crest Trail sign on another, and “Northern Terminus” written on another. Behind the monument was a line cut through the trees to clearly show the international border between US and Canada. It was snowy, too, so it really stood out from the dark forest of pines all around it. We were here. We made it. My PCT hike was done. I felt happy. I felt sad. I felt satisfied. And I was so glad I hiked here. It provided some closure after such a crazy series of such tiring events over the past week. What a totally unique finish to a very amazing journey.
At the monument, Tears, Lionheart and I took photos, ate our last fatty delicious trail snacks (candy bars and Hostess pies), and drank celebratory drinks. I carried in a bottle of my mom’s homemade chokecherry cordial, which she calls “Hoochie Mamma.” We passed it around – it was deliciously fantastic. A little while later, Dr. Slosh and Smiles showed up and popped a bottle of champagne, too. There were times when we’d all be talking and laughing, then suddenly we’d all fall silent and just stare at that monument. It was starting to sink in.
I just thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.
I’ve got more processing to do, and I’ll do my best to share it here. Tomorrow the adventure continues because Aloha and I are going to meet Cuddles and Atlas as they road-walk to Manning Park. I may even hike with them a bit.
Tonight I love the PCT. ♥
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!