September 16, 2017
Mile 2625.28 – Castle Pass (2625.28-2646.42)
There was ice in our water bottles this morning. I actually managed to stay pretty toasty in my quilt, but getting out in the morning was not super enjoyable. I probably looked ridiculous hiking out of camp bundled up like I was going on an Arctic expedition, but at least I was warm. We had a small climb in the morning and then a lot of down hill, so I was able to keep most of my warm layers on for quite a while. We sat in a sunny spot on a ridge to have breakfast, which felt amazing, before continuing down into the shade.
View from our final PCT lunch break
Near the end of the morning, we began the climb up to Rock Pass, which is when things really started getting beautiful. We ate lunch in a wide open grassy area with an amazing view of the mountains, just below the pass itself. When we came over the crest, we could see the trail winding for miles along the ridge side splashed with beautiful autumn colours. We climbed up and over Woody Pass, wound along the ridge for a while, and then began the last climb of the PCT. Seriously. The last 8 or so miles of the trail to the border are all downhill. There were a ton of people at the top, including Stephanie, Acorn, Jackie, Bin Chicken, and a lot of others whose names I don’t know. We all sat at the top taking in the view for a few minutes. Someone started playing O Canada on their phone. It was a pretty strange feeling.
Heading down Rock Pass
We began the downhill to camp. Everyone else in the big group was heading for the border tonight, but we decided to camp a few miles before and hit it first thing in the morning tomorrow. We’re camped with a bunch of other people who are doing the same thing, most of whom we’ve been hiking around for the past several days. We all sat together to make and eat dinner, and reflected on our time on the trail. It was a really enjoyable evening to close out the hike.
I can’t believe this is the last night. Today was a day of doing things for the last time. We set up the tent for the last time. I blew up my sleeping pad for the last time. I made dinner on my little stove for the last time. I maybe/hopefully dug my last cat hole. And now I’ll go to sleep in my warm quilt for the last time, and tomorrow we’ll break camp for the last time and walk 3 and a half miles to Canada. It still hasn’t sunk in that it’s all coming to an end so soon. I’m still full of excitement about getting to the monument and getting celebratory photos and walking to Manning Park to eat a warm meal and drink a beer and shower. But in the end I do think it’ll feel somewhat bittersweet saying goodbye to the simple life of the trail. I’ll reflect more on it tomorrow. From Canada…