Just Keep Walking: Lake Chelan to Canada!

It’s about time, eh? I have been dreading proof reading this and posting it for months, as I am sure you are aware. Why? I feel as if reading over the last of my thoughts on the PCT and posting them, is closing the chapter, and I wasn’t sure if I was quite ready to do that. Although I am still unsure if I am ready to say goodbye to this chapter in life, it is time to move on. So, here is the final chapter ya’ll.

September 18, 2017

Day 137: Mile 2569.4 to Mile 2582.8

Miles: 13.4

Steps: 38,820

Elevation Gain: 3500

Elevation Loss: 1600

I hadn’t been sleeping very well the last several days. I thought sleeping in a cloud of a bed like the one at the lodge, would help the sleeplessness, but I still tossed and turned all night. The sleeplessness could probably be attributed to the mix of emotions related to almost being done with the trail. Not to mention, excitement to see my mom in a few days.

SoFull, Big Daddy, Earwig and several other people I had been crossing paths with over the previous 136 days, arrived on the shuttle, so I was really happy to get to see them. This is when it hit me. I wouldn’t see them again. Like so many other times in life, we might say that we will visit each other, but it rarely happens. SoFull wanted me to stay, but I was out of time. He gave me a huge hug and I got on the bus. I at least would be leap frogging with several of my friends the last few miles of the trail, but would eventually have to say goodbye to them as well. The people that I’ve hiked with, had lunch with, forded rivers with, trekked through miles and miles and miles of snow with, spent time in town with, laughed with, debated with, swam in swimming holes with, jumped into freezing alpine lakes with, and camped with, have gotten me through these long miles. Without these people, I wouldn’t have made it this far. These people that I’ve been through so much with, I’ll most likely never see again. Goodbyes are always hard and they are probably my least favorite part of life, which is why I try not to get too attached to anyone. These people though, it has been hard not to get attached.

So, Speedy, Ironman, Legs, Ben, Niona, Hiccup, Honeypuff, Ranger, Franger, Doctor Zoom, Finesse, Fresh, DK, Neals, Beast, Fieldtrip, SoFull, Ten Gallon, Cannonball, Storyteller, Mom Pants, Arvid, Ladybug, Lydia, Rhino (guy), Rhino (girl), Wizard, John, Snakedancer, Curiosity, Big Daddy, Earwig, Optimistic Turtle, EVERY TRAIL ANGEL, and many many more, thank you. Thank you for making me laugh, for boiling water for me when I lost my stove, for giving me sunglasses when the raging river stole mine, for shielding me from the current while crossing the rivers, for giving me your hat when I lost mine to protect my blistered and sunburnt face, for keeping me warm on cold nights, for making food trades with me, for the many conversations about pooping in the woods, for the advice, for the hugs, for listening to me complain, for stargazing with me, for absolutely everything. I have missed you all since the last time we crossed paths.

I was a bit sluggish during today’s hike. Almost every step was without a view of the Northern Cascades. I was expecting a bit more from the North Cascades National Park section of the trail. I was mainly in the trees, or surrounded by bushes. I only had a little less than 3 miles before exiting the park, so I doubted that would change much.

There was a lot of talk about a 5 day snow storm. It sprinkled on me a few times, but there was more blue sky, than rain clouds. I was really thankful for that. I was hopeful that the last 3 days, would be as kind to me as this day had been.

I had to obtain a free permit to camp in the national park. I was educated on bears and hanging my food. The Rangers told me that one couple on the PCT already had their tent slashed into by a bear in the park. Okay, so I was scared. I bought some rope at Lake Chelan and was all set to hang my food for the first time. “This should be interesting,” I thought to myself.

I got to camp, ate the pizza and a sticky bun I had packed out from the bakery and set up my tent. I then put my food, all my toiletries and trash into my dry bag, grabbed my rope and I was ready. I was told to tie a stick or rock to the end of the rope to get it over a branch. According to my permit, the food had to be hung 12 feet off the ground and 5 feet away from the tree. I tied a rock to end the of the rope, picked my branch and threw the rock aiming for over the branch. Well, I didn’t throw high enough and the rock and rope came tumbling down. Second attempt, the rock came off the rope. Third time, I made it over the branch! Woohoo! I was so very excited… until the rock came swinging toward my face… my excitement quickly turned to an “oh shit” moment. Thankfully, the rock missed my face by a few inches.

I pulled the food bag in the air and the tree had prickly Devil’s Club surrounding it, so I attempted to tie it to a rock, but the rock wasn’t heavy enough and the food bag came shooting down, hitting me and almost knocking me over. This was a lot harder than I expected. About an hour later, I finally got it tied into the stupid tree. The only thing keeping my freezing cold spirit up, was knowing that I got to see my mother in a few more days!

September 19, 2018

Day 138: Mile 2582.8 to Mile 2609.6

Miles: 26.8

Steps: 66,206

Elevation Gain: 5850

Elevation Loss: 3840

It started raining at 2 am. I waited and waited for the rain to stop so I could tear down my tent, but it didn’t. I didn’t leave camp until 820 am. I had to remind myself that I had to get to Manning Park to meet my mom. That’s all that mattered, so I forced myself to pack up in the rain. I was prepared for the rain, as I had a cheap poncho over my pack, my rain jacket, rain pants and umbrella, I just don’t like hiking in the rain. I doubt anyone likes hiking in the rain though. The rain wouldn’t have been so bad, had it not been so cold. It was in the high 30s, maybe low 40s. As I continued to climb, the rain turned to snow around 5,300 feet. I prefer snow to rain, as snow is much easier to manage while hiking. At one point, there was about 6 inches of fresh snow on the ground.

I passed another thru-hiker friend in the snowy, wet, cold climb and he was going the opposite way as I was. I asked him where he was going and he said that he was going to get a beer in Bellingham. He was done with this cold snowy weather.

img_6718If I didn’t only have 2 more days of hiking, I would probably feel the same. A lot of hikers had several days ahead of them after reaching the Canadian border because they didn’t have the necessary paperwork to enter Canada. So, they had to turn around and hike back 40 miles to get off the trail. I’m thankful I did ‘t have to do that.

2600 miles! The trail was covered in snow, so I couldn’t find the actual 2600 mile marker, but I managed to make my own!

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After climbing a couple thousand feet, I looked up and saw the most beautiful thing… blue sky! It was so glorious. The sun even started to shine. I wasn’t expecting to see any sunshine all day. I could see the beautiful mountains that surrounded me. The snow stopped, but it was still super cold.

It was so cold that I didn’t want to get water and didn’t feel thirsty (although I knew that I needed to drink) and in the 26.8 miles of hiking, I only drank 1 liter of water. I know, terrible! It was starting to get late and I wanted to get set up for camp, and the camp I wanted to stay the night, was full. There wasn’t a single spot. So, I filled up on water and was forced to continue on. The rain started again and soon turned to snow, as I was once again climbing.

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As I was coming to the camping area on Glacier Pass, I saw some of my friends and they were able to put a smile on my face. It was now dusk and the snow stopped for a bit… just enough time for me to set up my already wet, cold tent. I chatted with my friends for a bit by the fire, but was too exhausted and cold to socialize much. I made dinner and huddled in my sleeping bag to stay warm in the 20 degree, snowy weather. I was warm enough to sleep some through the night, but was never comfortably warm. This was my second to last night, I could care less if I was comfortably warm. I would be warm in 2 more days!! Woohoo!!

September 20, 2017

Day 139: Mile 2609.6 to Mile 2640.4

Miles: 30.8

Steps: 71,628

Elevation Gain: 6280

Elevation Loss: 5500

It was a beautiful day, but super cold for the majority of it. The rain held off all day, but I could see the clouds fighting the urge to start storming.

I kept a good pace all day, so I decided to get as close to Canada as possible. I had planned on camping several miles before I did, but the wind was so strong that I decided to push on to a less windy spot.

I was sure I would be able to find something on the other side of Woody Pass. As dusk started to settle in, it started to snow… hard. I struggled to find a camping spot and got very anxious that I would get caught more and more into a blizzard.

Although not a flat spot, I set up my tent on a small hill, coming down from the pass. I had spent a lot of time in the snow through the Sierra section, as you all know, but I had yet to actually camp in an active snow storm. I had read somewhere that someone had suffocated to death in their tent. So, I thought if it snowed enough to cover all the air vents in my tent, that I would suffocate. I sent my best friend, Adam text messages over my GPS device asking him to Google if suffocating in the tent during a snow storm was possible. He told me to drink plenty of water and eat a lot of calories to keep my body heat up, but didn’t tell me much about suffocating in my tent. I set my alarm every hour to shake off my tent, to ensure I wouldn’t suffocate. I was also worrying that it would snow so much that I would loose the trail, or since I was on the side of the pass, that I would slip off the pass while trying to make my way through the snow in the morning.

It would be just my luck that I would suffocate, or slip off the mountain with only 8 miles left to Canada. I realized that I was worrying quite a bit, but I had never really completed much in my life. I typically quit things before fully committing myself. I was struggling with the idea that I did it. I walked from Mexico to Canada. I didn’t quit… well, I quit, but I came back.

With all of my warm weather clothing on, the last of my hand warmers shoved in the bottom of my sleeping bag, I managed to get a few hours of sleep, in between the alarms going off every hour.

September 21, 2017

Day 140: Mile 2640.4 to Mile 2650 Canada!!

Miles: 9.6 + 8 miles to the lodge in Canada

I awoke, feeling unrested, scared to peek my head outside my tent, for fear of how much snow I would be faced to trek through on my last day.

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To my surprise, it didn’t look as bad as I thought it would be.

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There was probably a foot of snow on the ground. I decided to stay in my tent a bit longer, until I heard someone else walking past me. What the heck was I scared of?? I had walked 300 miles in snow. “Get your ass out of bed and get to Canada!”

I lazily packed up my gear, put all my warm clothing on and just kept walking…. All the way to Canada!

The snow wasn’t terrible to trek through; thankfully, the other person’s foot prints, who was only moments ahead of me, helped guide my way.

The last few miles of trail, were not very well maintained. The tree branches, that I desperately tried to avoid, brushed my every limb with their wet leaves, leaving me even drenched from head to toe. I wasn’t only wet, my hands were numb and my body was freezing.

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Seeing the Northern Terminus Monument at the Canadian border, quickly warmed my heart and my body. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I did it. I just kept walking… from Mexico to Canada. Now what??

September 23, 2017

I met my mom at the lodge in Canada and as some of you may know, my mom and step dad drove me to the Southern Terminus at the border of California and Mexico, and my mom wanted to be at the Northern Terminus to as well. However, the Northern Terminus was 8 miles from the lodge… on foot. She was going to try and make her way there by herself, but I was a bit worried without cell phone service and the navigation technology I was familiar with, something would happen to her. So, we decided that I would meet her at the lodge and her and I would walk back to the terminus together.

That is what we did. Together, my mother and I walked the 16 miles to the Northern Terminus. I am so lucky to have such supportive parents. Unfortunately, my step dad was unable to make it, but he was there in spirit.

I also ran into SoFull and a lot of my friends who were finishing the trail! I was so thankful to see them again!

Well, this concludes the 140 day 2017 journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. I know you all have waited 11 months for the conclusion of my trek, and I appreciate your patience. Stay tuned for one last post about my journey; what the PCT taught me.

6 thoughts on “Just Keep Walking: Lake Chelan to Canada!

  1. WOW, I’m jealous beyond belief. Incredible journey! I wondered for a long time on what happened to you. Thanks for the update!

    Like

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