Day 116, August 18th.
Start: camp at mile 2646
End: manning park lodge via Canada border.
Miles hiked: 14 to the border, another 9 to the lodge in Canada.
In our normal routine, we’re up an out early. Carrot gets a head start on the group, but the rest of us all take off together. Alpenglow on the mountains greet us in our first steps. This happens when the sun rises in the mountains, turning the east facing slopes of the peaks red. It’s a beautiful thing, something that I haven’t seen often on the trail – not since the sierras.
We make our way up and over Woody pass as a group, then continue climbing our last climb of the trail, where we all take a break together.
“Last break break of the pct!” Tiny says, with a big smile on his face.
“Last climb of the pct!!” Woody shouts, happy as a clam.
We’re up high, no trees around us, with 360 views in every direction. I throw some mini M&M’s in my mouth, then fruit snacks, some granola, and even the last of a sticky bun from Stehekin. Ahhh, Stehekin. The border is only 7 miles, and much of the group takes off, anxious to reach it. Guthrie and I stay at the top, soaking it all in. I point out some of the visible peaks, as the rain washed out much of the smoke that’s been in the air. Visibility is great.
“I want to stay here,” I tell Guthrie, “live in the mountains. Always on the move.”
It’s silly, and could never work, but I would love a life like this. A mountain nomad. Always searching out new horizons, new vantage points, new mountains, valleys, and forests. I want to explore. I never want to stop seeing new things, and having new experiences.
Guthrie nods his head. He doesn’t have to say anything. He knows. He shares my sentiment. We’ve discussed it at length as we walk. We both have the same desires in life – get out as much as possible, have new experiences, and most of all, we don’t want to work our lives away at our corporate jobs. He took action just like I did to break the monotony of a desk job, and seek life experiences. We saved up our money, planned, and executed. We lived freely for the past several months. I don’t want it to end.
After a half hour of looking at the views in silence, we take off down the steep slopes, to Canada. We find the whole group at the border; carrot, woody, tiny, Chinese rock, Krispies. Soon brainstorm, then colonel and guacarock. Smiles all around! We take pictures, explore the monument, and laugh. Mostly we laugh.
The monument at the Canadian border is the same wooden monument as seen at the Mexico border. But here there are no roads up to the monument. No metal fences. And no helicopters and border patrol circling. It’s quite the different scene from the dry, sandy Mexico border near campo. Here it’s lush, dropped in a forest ten miles from the nearest road. Want to get there? You’ll have a 20 mile hike, minimum. It’s a perfect ending spot, in my eyes. There’s monument 78, and a clear cut through the woods to mark the border. Straight up a mountain.
“Better get used to that,” woody says, referring to the clear it up a very steep grade in the mountain, ” the AT ain’t got no switchbacks!”
After an hour and a half, the girls leave us. Carrot and Krispies are hiking 30 miles back to Harts pass. Hugs are given, and they soon disappear into woods.
The rest of us head out, hiking 9 or so miles to manning park lodge, where we get a room and wash our clothes. We go to the bar and order tons of food. Poutine for me, I’ve never ward of it. But it’s classic Canadian food. Delicious.
I use the terrible wifi way the lodge to post a few photos from the border. It still hasn’t hit me yet. I wonder when it will? Soon I’ll be headed to Vancouver, Seattle, and even NYC to see some old friends. Then on to the AT. Thats always been how I like to do things, diving in head first. I don’t want down time to sit and reflect, at least not more than just a day of traveling. I want to move. I feel like I would get down, or be unproductive if I took a few days to reflect. I’ll reflect when I go home to my parents house in Michigan for the holidays. Until then, I’ll be ‘diving’ into my endeavors. Even work. It’s hard to imagine that even exists still. But the AT first, thank goodness.