Thursday, August 1, 2013

A journey completed

With only 85 miles of PCT to go, I headed north to finish my journey. Since I pulled off the trail at Stehekin last year I needed to go back and do the stretch from High Bridge to Rainy Pass. I chose to go in over Cascade Pass and then turn north. Cascade Pass was as advertised - one of the most spectacular trailheads I have been to. Rockfall and glacial movements echoed through the valley as I readied my pack. Then up the switchbacks I went.

Spoke to the ranger at the pass for a while. Nice guy. Then it was down to the Stehekin River. On the way I met a girl who was waiting for her boyfriend to come over the pass. I pointed out the many switchbacks coming down from Pelton Basin so she could watch for him. Her sister is doing the PCT and was near the halfway point.

Once I hit the old road it was smooth sailing down to Bridge Creek. I decided to camp here even though my permit called for High Bridge. It just made more sense to leave my camp here and hike the 4 miles south to High Bridge and then return to Bridge Creek where the PCT left the Stehekin River. I was able to change my permit with the ranger. After dinner, I hiked down the road to High Bridge and returned via the PCT. I didn't arrive back at camp until after midnight.

Had a leisurely morning in camp before pounding out the 13 miles to Rainy Pass. That stretch was hot and buggy. Trail is high above the creek and I finally dropped down to cool off near the junction to Twisp Pass. I met my parents as planned at Rainy Pass where we camped for the night.

The next day it was up to Cutthroat Pass, a place where Flatlander and I turned around in knee deep snow conditions last November. Here is the spot we decided to turn around.

As I made the descent down to Granite Pass and the long traverse to Methow Pass, I kept wondering how difficult things would have been had we kept going. I was glad to be hiking this stretch in summer conditions. I ended up cooking at the West Fork of the Methow and doing another 3 miles after dinner. The next day I climbed up to Glacier Pass along Brush Creek. When I topped out from climbing near Grasshopper Pass, I met a couple who I had seen a few days prior at Cascade Pass. We walked and talked for a while. I also met a southbounder who was just starting his journey to Mexico and wished him luck. Eventually my Dad came up the trail from Hart's Pass and we walked the PCT to Meadow Camp. I dropped my pack and eventually slack packed the few remaining miles to Hart's Pass.

The next day I readied my pack for my last days on the PCT. Dad walked as far as Windy Pass with me. I met a lot of people here who had gone up to the monument and turned around. Billy Goat was on this part of trail and I spotted him the next day. We dropped our packs and talked for the longest time. What a really nice guy and very knowledgeable about the trail.

  I took 2 days to do the last 35 miles because I wanted to enjoy the last days of my thru hike. I camped at the spring near Goat Lakes and then just north of Castle Pass in an old site off the trail. I arrived in camp at 5:00 made dinner. Then it was a quick 3 mile hike down to the monument where I had some time to myself. Then back up to camp.

The next morning I packed up and began to re-hike the last 3 miles of US PCT. As I was heading down, a thru hiker, Dogcatcher, caught up to me. He had started this year around April 15th and skipped the Sierra due to snow. He was very excited to be nearing the monument. Before long we were celebrating, taking pictures, and signing the journal. I was delighted to have someone share this moment with.

Eventually, we parted ways and he turned back to go out Hart's Pass and I continued north to Manning Park. I met my parents again at Hwy 3 and we celebrated the end of my journey. I've hiked every one of the 2,663 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail!


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