It was pouring. After a cozy morning filled with hot drinks, cinnamon buns, and books, the time had come. We packed on the bus with a few other hikers and a few tourists, then headed back to the trail. When we got off the bus we took shelter under a nearby cabins roof for a minute to get settled then, after an unpleasant and off putting interaction with a NPS Ranger, we got on our way. The rain had been dumping down all day, and it was cold. My jacket kept me mostly warm and dry, but my legs from the knee down were pretty much soaked. The trail was one giant puddle and after trying to avoid a few it didn't matter anymore because there were puddles inside my shoes. After the first five miles, we took a break at a designated campground on the front porch of a locked cabin - at least we were out of the rain for a few minutes. The tough thing about the rain is stopping. Also, there is some kind of plant that whips your legs in the most sharp stinging way - which is only amplified when wet. When you stop, it gets cold quickly... so within five minutes we were putting our packs back on and pressing onward. We made it 13 miles total and by the time we got to camp we were both soaked. I was freezing and got right too it. My tent was up quickly, and I was very cautious to keep dry things dry and wet things well, not near the dry stuff. I set up my tent (aka my little house) and got in bed. Only shortly after burrito-ing myself into my sleeping bag did I realize I was kind of hungry. Cooking wasn't going to happen, my body was way to tired and too cold for that, but Mom's brownies saved the day. I got them out and laid them next to my head and had a few then promptly passed out. The whole night followed in a similar fashion, wake up, eat a brownie or two then pass back out.
In the morning I woke up to the lovely sound of nothing. No pitter patter of rain on my tent, and man what a relief that sound is. I chatted with Whitney for a bit from my tent since we were kind of far apart then we slowly got up and started packing up our wet stuff. The sun took its time and everything in the woods was pouring out steam in the morning - very cool to see the whole forest seemingly taking a giant exhale. As the morning pressed on and we walked, the sun kept fighting for control of the sky and we weren't sure what the weather was going to do. Around 10:30 we had a good clear section of sun so we (and a few other people who had camped nearby and were in the same situation) laid all of our stuff out to dry in a trailhead parking lot. After 30 minutes or so, most stuff was dry again and we packed up and climbed up to the top of the ever so intimidating "cut throat pass" - one of my favorite pass names. The clouds were kind of rolling in and we were unsure of what the weather would do through out the day but once we were up and over the highest elevation points for the day I felt better. After a quick break for lunch, we headed down into the forest and passed the mile marker for mile 2600! Craziness, it feels like mile 100 was yesterday.
Despite doing 26 miles, and having a relatively late start, with lots of breaks in the morning, we got to camp at a reasonable hour and had time to cook and read before it was dark! As we were cooking, there was a faint bit of drizzling, but nothing too bad. When I woke up in the morning I immediately ran out of my tent to poop - so strange how sometimes its so urgent in the mornings. Anyways, the sky looked blue in one direction, but the clouds looming over the mountain tops didn't look promising. As we climbed, the weather turned from rain, to snow as we followed the contours of a ridge line. The morning dragged, and the snow/sleep came and went, but the wind remained. I was so cold, and Whitney was getting further and further ahead of me. Harts Pass. Blah. The last several miles I was freezing and just wanted to cry. Why am I still doing this to myself I wondered? Then realized it doesn't matter, because I'm in the middle of no where, and stopping isn't going to do anything at this point.
Harts Pass is in the middle of no where, but there is a ranger station, outhouse and dirt road. When we arrived, I hustled to the outhouse where a few other wet hikers were huddled up. We all crammed in and after a few minutes the other two people pressed on. I was cranky and very cold. Whitney made hot chocolate, and some people who had finished and hiked back wrapped me in a space blanket. As I started to warm up, the sun also came out for a few minutes... maybe ten total? Still. The clouds parted and I instantly felt hopeful. From Harts pass, its 30 miles to the Canadian border. There was no giving up now. After a solid hour of warming up and stuffing my face, we headed back out into the blah weather and hiked another 14 miles. About twenty minutes after leaving the ranger station the snow was back at it. Flurries everywhere and as we climbed there was more and more snow sticking. Another cold afternoon filled with no talking and relying on the same music I've been listening to for a month or so on repeat. Blahhhh. I tried to enjoy it but it was such a mind over matter thing until we started to drop in elevation and the snow and downfall all dissipated. Whitney and I decided to call it short by a few miles for the day since we didn't want to camp in the snow (camping as low as possible was a good call). Once we got to camp and set up, Van Go rolled in and joined us, shortly followed by Caveman.
My heart jumped. I couldn't believe it was him, and Oilcan rolled in a few minutes later. My Boys! I felt like I was going to explode! We had been trying to connect with them for miles and then here they were, the night before Canada. Did I mention the trail provides? We all caught up and chatted for a few hours then hit the hay. I had a hard time sleeping, mostly due to excitement and early the next morning Oilcan and Caveman both yelled out CAAANNNNAAADDDAAAA around 6:30 AM as the sun was starting to brighten the sky. 17 miles until the border. The day went too fast. We all hiked together, through about eight to ten inches of snow at the high points, but the sun was out, and it was our last day. It's hard to describe.
The border is strange. For starters, there is a clear cut path where all the trees are down about 20 to 30 ft wide. THIS SPANS THE WHOLE BORDER OF THE US AND CANADA. Seemed very silly to me. Also, the monument is lovely, wooden, and worn with the love of every thru hiker that hugs and climbs all over it. When you walk up, there are a bunch of people, all kind of just looking at it, and eating... So i did the same. We sat there, ate, chatted, and had a small photoshoot for each person (lots of nudity). Then it was over. 8 more miles to the lodge at manning park. Then it was really over. The last bit of road walking to the resort was painful. A pain I never want to re-live. Oilcan was struggling and I wanted to encourage and support but it felt like every man for himself. We all hobbled as quick as we could to civilization.
When I walked into the lobby at the resort at manning park I was greeted by the warm glows of clean friends. Dawg Whisperer and Bushwack were both sitting around looking all cozy. They gave Whitney and I the low down, while caveman and oilcan took showers. After sorting a few things out with caveman's parents (who got another room for themselves), we gathered a group of about 7 hikers and got some dinner at the only restaurant that the resort has. After dinner, I showered, Whitney shaved ( and looked so different my brain didn't know what to do) and we all shared a stinky hotel room one last time. I slept like garbage that night. I tossed, turned, cried, felt stupid for crying then tossed some more. The hotel (and most of manning park for that matter) has no cell service or wifi. I used the hotel lobby to email my mom with an update of the plan and the next morning, then had breakfast with the guys and caveman's parents (who are the sweetest folks). Shortly after breakfast, I waiting in the lobby eagerly awaiting my mom. She arrived pretty quickly, and after a quick goodbye to the boys, we were driving towards Vancouver.
Strange doesn't begin to describe how I am currently feeling. This is all I have for now. I'll probably write something as a follow up in a few weeks but for now i'm currently consumed with consuming food, resting my body and letting my brain wrap itself around what has happened to me over the past 5 months.