PCT Day 149: Chaotic Planning and the Last Night on the PCT

September 14, 2022 

Stehekin to Bridge Creek Campground at mile 2577.8 

4.9 miles

Today is an odd mix of relaxing and chaos. We think the shop opens at 9, so we sleep in way later than usual, which is pleasant. After we pack all our stuff up and go back down to the deck to hang out, though, we realize it opens at 10. I’m pretty thrilled to have the downtime, but Jumbo is antsy. He walks out onto one of the jetties while I stay at a table writing for a while, then I go to join him. He’s lounging right on the edge of the dock like some kind of nautical model. It cracks me up. No one can lounge harder than Jumbo. 

When the store opens, everyone descends. What we’re really after is the limited number of wifi codes that they sell each day, but they aren’t ready yet. I stand around waiting for a while, then give up and just order a coffee and get quarters for the shower. Meanwhile, Ishay pops up out of nowhere as usual, and he waits with me outside until we finally get our internet vouchers. We’re all a little starved for the outside world after a week of nothing, especially to check on the fires and make plans for the end. 

Jumbo gets back from the shower, then we pick up our boxes from the post office. After that, I go take my turn in the shower, which is not my favorite of the trail, but which gets the job done. A little while later, Dilly Dally gets on her ferry. Her hike is done here; she decided to make Stehekin and its cinnamon rolls her emotional end point. I wish I’d gotten a chance to spend more time with her, but I’m so glad we got to meet back in the desert and to hang out last night and this morning. Jumbo and I take photos with her, and then she departs, bound for Seattle, where she’s going to meet up with Spicy Batman (remember Alex from the car ride to the terminus from Scout and Frodo’s? That’s him!). Then they’re going to do a road trip to Michigan together. I ask how she’s feeling about being done with the PCT, and she says she’s mostly relieved. I’m not quite ready for the experience to end yet, but I still understand this sentiment completely. 

Jumbo, Dilly Dally, and me before Dilly got on the ferry

Jumbo and I spend the next few hours planning the end of our adventure. We think we can hitch to Ross Lake and then take a trail on the east bank up to a boat dock, then up to the border of Canada. We look at options for this. However, part of the East Bank Trail is closed higher up on the lake due to a fire. We could still either rent kayaks or canoes or take a water taxi after we hit the closure. We talk to some other hikers who have done the kayak rental and they say it’s doable and fun, but harder than they were expecting and just as much effort as hiking, if not more so. 

We then decide that this is simply too much for us to plan without support. So we go up to the ranger station, where a very nice volunteer from Buckinghamshire named Sarah tries to help us book a campsite along the lake for tomorrow night, but it isn’t working on the Recreation.gov site. Eventually, Jumbo and I just decide to pay the money for the water taxi to take us all the way from Ross Lake Resort to Hozomeen, the furthest north point on the lake on the American side. It’s going to be very expensive and way less cool than paddling up, but logistically, it’s much less of a nightmare.

We then book the water taxi online, and they call me to confirm. It’s not possible for them to take us up, give us time at the border, and then bring us back down in the same day, so we’re going to have a cool 24 hours up at Hozomeen to chill, which I’m honestly not mad about. It sounds really nice to just hang after five months of walking and trying to get somewhere every day.

In the meantime, Tribute and Feather show up on one of the afternoon shuttles from the trail. I’m pleasantly surprised because I thought they were farther behind! I hear Tribute’s voice and sneak around a corner. He turns around and sees me and gives me a huge hug. We’re reunited, even if just for a few hours—he and Feather are still planning to end their hike at either Rainy Pass or Hart’s Pass. We try to convince them to do the boat ride with us, but they didn’t get there in time to get a wifi code for the day and it seems like too much hassle. We plan to meet up with them when we’re in Seattle, even if just for a few hours, before we all fly out (or, in Tribute’s case, get picked up). 

Once I’ve confirmed everything with Ross Lake, we get all of our stuff packed up and hug Ishay, Tribute, and Feather goodbye. As we’re doing this, though, our bus takes off without us, even though it was still a few minutes before 4. Panicking slightly, Jumbo goes in to ask the employee in the general store if there’s any other way we can get a ride. A guy named Billy who works at the lodge offers to take us down to the trail, and, relieved, we agree. He is the friendliest and most American guy you can imagine. He’s appalled that we haven’t seen the local Rainbow Falls, so he even makes a stop for us to take a photo before we go back on trail. Once we make it to the drop-off spot, we thank him and head uphill on the PCT.

I’m acutely aware as we start walking that this is our last night on the Pacific Crest Trail. Tomorrow we’ll hit Rainy Pass, and all the travel we do after that won’t be on the actual PCT anymore. So I walk with Jumbo for the first part of the incline, enjoying being together and taking it in that we just hit our last trail town of the thru-hike and that the end is within days. It’s a lovely evening, very Washington with its chilly overcast skies and lovely little creeks. 

I go ahead on my own for a while and listen to my PCT playlist. The very first song on it is “Feeling Myself” by Wolf Alice, which Jumbo added back in Big Bear when we were eating dinner at Wyatt’s before dancing to cheesy covers, and which, despite not really hitting me the first few times, has become a favorite. It starts slow, not really sure of where it’s going, and then it explodes into an orgasmic orchestral blast out of nowhere, and in that moment I feel my feet on the ground and my heart extend into the sky and the entire length of the trail somewhere in my bones and it is all so, so amazing. I’m really feeling myself. I have really been feeling myself out here. This is who I am: strong, dirty, on fire, in love with this life. Can I let this stay in me forever? Can I keep the PCT?

Camp is a huge group site near a stream with a picnic table and a bear box. We set up for cowboy camping because we want to be together on our last night on this magical trail, but it starts raining while we eat dinner and we have to set up our tents quickly before our gear gets too wet. 

After dinner, Jumbo and I sit at the table talking and sharing the rest of my Fireball. Our conversations have grown a little more real, a little weightier, over the past couple of days as we approach the end. What makes a person? Jumbo muses. Is there some core of us that always stays the same? Or are the people around us and our current circumstances more telling of who we are? And if it’s the latter, then how can we possibly take these newfound stronger, more confident people we’ve become back to non-trail life?

As we talk, a hiker named Gandalf comes up and joins us. He mentions that he lived in Atlanta, and I say I also lived in Atlanta while I went to Emory. 

“Um, I went to Emory too,” he says, floored. 

This is not very common; it’s not a huge school. So we start bonding over our time there, our favorite places in the city, what we miss. He’s just graduated while I’ve been out of Atlanta for seven years, but it’s all still so clear in my memory and it’s awesome to talk with him about it. We also all compare post-PCT plans and where we think we’ll go next. It strikes me as very cool, even on the very last night on the PCT, that we can still meet new people and click.

I crawl into my Duplex and am very conscious that this is one of my last nights in this cozy little home I’ve lived in—give or take a Sardines night—since April 19. This same tent is the one that witnessed the crazy storm on night three right before we hitched into Julian for the first time, the same one that stood on sand next to the I-10 underpass, the same one that kept me somewhat warm in the Sierras and not even remotely cool in Northern California. And how it’s here in Washington on its last night on my 2022 thru hike. What an adventure it’s been, little home. And what adventures I hope there are to come. 

3 thoughts on “PCT Day 149: Chaotic Planning and the Last Night on the PCT

  1. Omg tent tears. Good job, little tent!

    Also, can you share some version of your PCT playlist? I was already gonna ask for a list of all those albums you’ve been jamming on, and you playlist comment reminded me!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s