Mile 2646 to 2660
In the middle of the night there is a crashing sound like a log being rolled over. Are you kidding me? That sounds way too much like a bear grubbing, and we are both sleeping with our food bags. I fumble for my headlamp, but I need a flashlight to help find my headlamp. It’s a bit like needing scissors to open a new package of scissors. It is my last day. Everything I do is for the last time: sleeping in a tent, digging a 6 inch cat hole, checking the map for water sources, looking at profile elevations, drinking Muscle Milk for breakfast and a ton of other tasks previously chronicled. The one last I don’t want this to be, is my last day of living. I eventually find and shine my light into the darkness. “We are more trouble than we are worth,” I say to the unknown noise maker.
Our tents, sleeping bags and gear are soaking wet. But we don’t care. Today is the last day we pack up. We will not be sleeping in the wild wild wet tonight. I don’t even rinse my dirty old Gatorade now Muscle Milk bottle. It is going straight in the recycle bin. The clothes I am wearing will be going in the trash.
As we hike down a long steep side slope toward the border, we come upon a tent smack dab in the middle of the trail. It reminds us that we miss Ixnay. We excuse ourselves and squeeze by. A female voice from within says “Sorry”. She was clearly too exhausted to continue, and dropped where she was in the night.
There is a strange cut of trees in the horizon. “It’s the border,” declares Kevin. It is kind of odd how the border is exactly the opposite of a fence. The forest is a thick wall of wood, difficult to pass, but for one brief moment the trees are clear cut and the border is like a city park: smooth, green, and full of sunlight.
We switchback down to Northern Terminus and Monument 78. We have it all to ourselves. We take the obligatory goofy pictures and remove the heavy metal monument cap. In it is the final log book, though it should have also contained instructions on how to put the monument cap back on. It is surprisingly heavy and no longer fits, regardless how many times we rotate it and try again.
On April 3rd I signed the Southern Terminus log book. There are a variety of log books in-between, some on the actual trail in podium like stands and some at resupply locations such as general stores or post offices. There are not as many log books as on the AT where there is one at every shelter, but there are quite a few. From that first day, I told myself the only other one I was signing was the one at the Northern Terminus. My theory was that signing any other interim book was an admission I might not make it to the final one. I never said it was a good theory, just that it was mine. I did sign two other books, but they are not official PCT books. I signed the book on Mount Baden Powell in honor of my father who took me there as a boy scout, and I signed the one on Mount Whitney because, well it’s Mount Whitney.
Today I sign the Northern Terminus Monument 78 log book. It is done.
We now have only to walk another 8 miles to Manning Park and get picked up by Terri. You can only hike into Canada if you have a border crossing permit from the Canadian government. Having a felony is the primary reason to be denied. We do our best not to judge the hikers returning 30 miles to Harts Pass rather than entering Canada. It’s probably just where they left their cars parked.
We hike into Canada and over a 1,000 foot climb. On the final long gentle slope we meet several more strangers who congratulate and cheer us. It is still as strange to me as the time way back in the dessert when the Sierra Club group made us walk through a tunnel of raised hiking sticks. As if to keep my head from swelling, a yellow jacket flies into my shirt and bites me on the neck. The pain is searing, but Kevin points out that crying from a bug bite would be worse than crying at the monument. I did neither. But as the pain flows through my body, I realize something is telling me it is time to leave the wilderness.
Terri and Daniel have come part way up the trail to meet us. They tell us getting out of Canada may be harder than getting in, because Daniel forgot his US Passport on the kitchen counter in Seattle. After driving way too fast for me, and sitting way too long at the crossing, Daniel begs his way back into the United States. He is given a formal warning that he is in violation of the US border crossing documentation requirements. We are pretty sure that just means he is now on a path to citizenship and can apply for a wide variety of social services.
On the US side of the border we find our US dollars good again, so we duck into Bob’s Burger and Brew and spend them. We drive back to Peg and Lane McNitt’s in Seattle, where we are spoiled with ribs, fruit, biscuits and desserts. Tomorrow we will fly back to Oakland, erasing in an hour what took months to walk.