I made it to Canada! It has been a while since my last post and it is the post about finishing the trail so I expect this to be a fairly long blog. I got to the monument at noonish on the 17th. This was a bit earlier than I had planned but the weather report for the next few days was not overly impressive. The prediction was for cold temperatures with a mix of rain and snow. This seemed like a good reason to do a few extra miles and get to Manning Park a half day earlier than planned. It worked out perfectly, there were a few rain drops for the last 5 minutes before the resort but besides that I dodged all the weather. Before talking too much about the end of the trail I should talk about the second half of Washington for at least a bit.
I did not have a single decent view between Snoqualmie pass and Stevens pass. There was so much smoke in the air it seemed like I was always in a cloud, except it smelled like a fire and made my eyes itch and burn a little. Besides that slight downside, the trail seemed great. There were a lot of large climbs and quite a few amazing little lakes. It seemed like if you added the normal views to this section it would of been incredible. As it was, the lakes made up for some of the disappointing views.
North of Stevens Pass the smoke cleared, after the one and only day of actual rain on my entire hike, and the views were not bad! The whole area reminded me of the Sierras. Even though there were roads every other day or so, I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. There was definitely more up and down on the trail but it was well worth it. Even the bigger climbs followed the PCT of having nice gradual trail so those sections weren't too bad.
After Stevens pass the last place I resupplyed was the tiny town of Stehekin. This is a little place at the north end of Lake Challan that doesn't have any road access. There is a ferry that crosses the lake but besides the ferry the only way to get there is on foot. Luckily there is a post office there, and a fantastic bakery. It was odd fitting all my food in my pack knowing that it was the last time on the hike I would be carrying a fully resupply. After Stehekin was also when the weather changed from pleasantly warm to a bit chilly. The nights dropped to right around freezing and the high temperature during the day was in the 50's. Luckily, by doing a couple extra miles a day for the last few days, I was able to get into Manning Park dry.
Hitting the monument was strange. In my mind, the end of the trail is a big occasion and I expected the trail to simulate that - it did not. The last ten miles of trail are down hill or flat and the northern terminus of the trail is down at the bottom of a valley. It was a bit strange to feel so accomplished to make it to the bottom of a hill. It was also interesting to have zero security or anything at the Canadian border. There were so many border patrol people around the southern terminus it seemed like there should be something. There wasn't even much a sign saying anything about the USA side of the border, just a welcome to Canada sign on their side.
Hitting the border with the same five people that I had hiked all of Washington with made it extra special. While making it to the end of a thru hike is a very personal journey one of the things that makes it so special are the people that you meet along the way. I had two trail families along the trail, the group of people I did the Sierras with and the group I did Washington with. In the desert I hiked with Zoom but didn't hike with anyone else in any sort of intentional way. In between the Sierras and Washington I was mostly hiking by myself. I will always remember those two groups.
I have been working on a movie that will do a little summary of the second half of Washington but I haven't finished it yet. I'll post it to my blog in a later post.