Well. Umm… It’s over.
After 5 months and 5 days (same exact time I was out on my AT thru-hike), the end of my PCT thru-hike is here.
As I type this blog I am listening to The Vietnam War soundtrack that I listened to no less than 4,567,298 times over the course of the last year while prepping for this trek. At times my apartment looked like a drug den. Full of powder (protein) and pills (ibuprofen, Tylenol, electrolytes, melatonin). Boxes full of couscous, shoes, isobutane. Excel tables detailing all the logistics, post office addresses, and gear inventory. All backed up to the cloud, downloaded to my phone. After all, inter-webs are a struggle on this 2,653 mile stretch.
Listening to this soundtrack, in combination with meeting my mom and aunt at the end makes it all come full-circle.
It’s an unconventional ending for an unconventional guy on an unconventional trail.
As I moaned about earlier, the end-point (Northern Terminus) was closed. The PCT-A was telling everyone to end their journey at Rainy Pass. I researched the US Forest Service website and saw the fire was only 5% contained, burning ON the PCT, and projected to re-open October 31. All that was enough for me to pull the trigger on booking flights, hotel, reaching out to work for a start date, etc. My latest plan of driving to Canada and hiking only 8 miles south to tag the monument also fell apart. Turns out it is highly illegal to enter the US from Canada anywhere other than a formal border crossing. As luck would have it, the monument is technically on the US side.
Then it the trail reopens (sort of)…
(Four letter word that rhymes with duck.)
To undo all the wheels I’ve set in motion are a logistical and economical pain. This is an unconventional trail. It is ever-changing (fire, smoke, detour, blah blah blah). You could spend a lot of time chasing your own tail out here keeping up with it all. If there is one thing I learned on the AT to apply out here, it’s that you’ve got to roll with the punches.
I am surprisingly at peace with this unconventional ending. Besides, if this were one week sooner, this would have been THE standard ending. Another 2.5 days of hiking on a detour (not even the PCT) to get to the Northern Terminus. It just doesn’t feel right. This probably blows some people’s mind. But hey, hike your own hike.
As I look back on it all, it is such a dichotomy.
In some ways, I feel like I have only been out 5 days. Time flies when you are having fun. This hike did not feel like the perpetual nightmare that the AT felt like each morning when I woke up. For the most part, I never disliked this beast.
In other ways, it seems like 5 years. After all, so much stuff happens every single day. I have seen deserts, mountains, snow, hail, 105F, 18F, mountain lion, bear, rattlesnakes, amazing views, etc., etc., ETC.! So incredibly diverse.
As an unconventional guy, Tumbleweed and I even hiked 1,000 miles backwards (south). Which turned out to be brilliant and I would highly recommend to interested thru-hikers, weather allowing.
When I think about, I mean REALLY think about it, I’m not sure I could do these crazy thru-hikes were it not for all the great people. The world can be a decent place. Not everyone is a jerk, haha.
In no particular order, thanks to my mom for mailing so many gear boxes on a whim. Thanks to my aunt Terry for coming along on every beginning and end of these crazy hikes. Every family and friend that answers those phone calls after I’ve maybe had a little too much solitude. Tumbleweed for enjoying the solitude with me. Polymet for allowing a sabbatical to even allow a second thru-hike. Total strangers who took a chance on driving me to a town to resupply. Total strangers who left selfless boxes of trail magic along the way. Other hikers who were always there to offer advice, laundry quarters, or the occasional snickers.
You are all amazing and I couldn’t have done these miles without all of you. I can’t put into words how much I appreciate each and every one of you.