PCT Day 151: Canada

September 16, 2022

The alarm goes off and we set about packing up. It’s still dark, and it’s cloudy again today. If there was any doubt before that the seasons are changing and autumn is setting in, those doubts are gone. It’s undeniable. We are at a crossroads. And today is the last day on our wild PCT journey.

We have a short hike to Ross Lake Resort this morning. We take it slow, Jumbo still struggling with his ankles. When we get there, I’m impressed by the place. All of the buildings are floating on the water, and there are cute little cabins with plants in the windows. There’s a cat walking around. There’s a really nice restroom. And outside the office, there is a picnic table where we sit and wait until the resort opens.

Once it does, we go in and let them know we’re there. The guy at the desk, Jared, is so chill and hilarious. Jumbo calls him the “most American guy I can imagine.” He tells us about how so many PCT hikers have been calling in asking the same questions about the water taxi and kayak rentals, and he comments on how entertaining it is that hikers know the trail like the back of their hand but have no sense of distance when it comes to any non-PCT area. Luckily, we gave up on the idea of kayaking since we had no concept of how long it would take us. We’re just taking the boat. Yolo. What is the PCT? The world is on fire and there are no rules anymore.

When the driver (Is that what you call the dude who steers the boat? The captain? The pilot?) is ready, he directs us through the shop and onto the water taxi. Once we’re far enough from the resort, he zooms out into the open water of the massive Ross Lake.

I’m immediately glad that we didn’t try to kayak or canoe. This lake is seriously enormous. It’s beautiful this morning, with clouds creeping among the mountains and the surface of the water rippling in the cool air. I’ll miss being outside, but I’m so done with hiking, and the feeling of covering distance so quickly is more satisfying than I was expecting it to be.

I’m not sure how long it takes us to get there–maybe half an hour or 45 minutes–but I’m excited when we see the landing, with a few hikers standing there hanging out or waiting for the taxi. We get off the boat and talk to them. We recognize Hippie Girl, one of the two who was hiking with Shaggy. He tells us that there’s a ranger cabin up the hill not far from the monument and that it’s a great place to hang out. We walk, following him up a hill and down a gravel road.

We pass tons of campsites on the edge of the lake as we walk. It is distinctly autumnal today. The trees are turning yellow, and leaves dot the ground. There’s a slight breeze, and I know that when I stop walking I’ll immediately be cold. Still, something that surprises me is the volume of mosquitoes. Isn’t it too cold for them now?? It’s September! They swarm in a massive cloud, forcing me to get out my head net. So much for my plan to lie around outside all day.

When we get to the ranger station–a cute little brown A-frame building with a screen door and a porch–we are thrilled to see Shaggy lying in the corner in his quilt. “Hey!” he says in his usual enthusiastic tones. “Hello, hello! What a treat!”

Jumbo and I laugh at the familiar greeting. We spend a few moments catching up with them, then decide to head to the obelisk monument at the border. They tell us that it’s “just up the hill,” but we aren’t really sure what this means, so we just walk down the road towards the gate that marks the international boundary.

At the sign, I take a deep breath and smile. I’m not feeling super emotional today. I think yesterday took it out of me. Today, I’m just happy to be here in this cool, beautiful autumn world on the arbitrary edge between two countries. Someone left a Rite in the Rain notebook hanging over the sign as an alternate terminus logbook. I read some of the entries, and then leave a note of my own to mark the official end of my journey. Jumbo follows suit, then we take photos.

We can see the metal obelisk from here, but it’s up a steep slope that looks impossible to walk on. So we wind up taking the Obelisk Loop trail, but realize when we finally get to the monument that we went the long way and that there was a much shorter route. Oh well. We have the whole day here. We’re not exactly in a rush. And what is a kilometer compared to 2,650 (ish) miles?

The obelisk isn’t the northern terminus of the PCT. It’s not that infamous collection of brown pillars we all dreamed about for months and years. But it’s pretty dang cool. It stands in the clear-cut marking the border between the United States and Canada. There’s a good view down to the lake. And this weather is exactly what I imagined for the end point of my hike.

Jumbo and I take photos of each other at the obelisk, taking it in that we made it to Canada–even if it wasn’t how we originally thought we would get here. Then, just as we’re preparing to take more photos, a huge group of hikers comes up the hill from the shorter part of the trail. Among them are Cookie, Smiley, Rolls, and Royce. It’s so good to see them! Jumbo had been telling me that he wished he could have a big group picture at the end, and he gets his wish after all.

After the group leaves, we continue with our photo shoot until we’re satisfied with the results. Then we walk back down the hill–the short way this time–and cook lunch at a picnic table. I can’t get over the weather today. It’s so perfect, so cool and fall-ish. It makes me excited for pumpkins and Halloween and Kentucky in October.

We have the whole rest of the day and the night at the border because the water taxi wasn’t available to take us back until tomorrow morning. At first, it seemed like an unnecessarily long time to spend at the monument, but now that we’re here, I’m happy we have so much time. Jumbo goes back up to the monument to record some video messages for friends and family, and I work on writing. Then we pretty much just hang out and listen to music for the rest of the day, at first on the grass and then in Jumbo’s tent when the mosquitoes get too vicious. It’s peaceful to be together without having to get any miles done. It feels like we have all the time in the world to absorb the ending and revel in it.

I got this hat from the hiker box in Stehekin. The banner is one of the decorations that Jumbo put on my tent on my birthday. I’ve been carrying it ever since.

When it starts to get dark, we move our stuff into the ranger cabin. It’s empty now. There’s no one else here. All the hikers who had been at the monument earlier have left, and Shaggy and Hippie Girl cleared out. The only noise, apart from Jumbo and me talking, is the wind rustling the yellowing leaves. We set up our sleeping pads inside the cabin while listening to the Gizz album Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, singing along. Then we sit at the desk and cook dinner, then eat it while listening to an episode of Stuff You Should Know.

After dinner we make lists of our favorites and least favorites of the PCT: favorite trail towns, favorite sections, favorite animals, favorite foods. We both liked the desert best. We both loved Wrightwood, Idyllwild, and Bishop. It’s so much fun to dig back through our memories and think about all the views, towns, trail angels, jokes, mishaps, friends, and hitches, all the little pieces that made up this journey.

We squish our sleeping pads together and keep talking as we snuggle up in our quilts. Not thinking about Seattle tomorrow. Not thinking about being done. Just being together. Just being here. And then, one last time, we fall asleep side by side in the woods.

19 April to 16 September 2022 – Mexico to Canada

18 thoughts on “PCT Day 151: Canada

    1. Tony B

      I came across this blog after meeting several groups of hikers making their way thru Hat Creek and Burney back in July. It has been wonderful to be able to follow along with you through your hike. Thank you for sharing your adventure! Now I’m a bit at a loss as to what I will look forward to reading. Hoping you have more adventures soon.

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  1. What a journey. Thank you so much for sharing it so beautifully, thoroughly, hilariously, honestly..

    So pleased that you made it to Canada. I LOVE that start and end pic. ❤️ What a treasure!

    As I’ve probably mentioned ten times at this point; if you keep writing, I’m here to keep reading! I hope you have a gentle, restful transition to life’s next stretch of trail.

    All my very best to you and the tram!

    ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. adalpine

    Loved following along your journey ever since you rocked up to me outside Scout and Frodo’s and hesitatingly introduced yourself as “Passport…” and at that moment transitioned from the non-hiking world back into the hiking one.
    Hope the next transition goes as smoothly.
    RT

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RT! You’ve been following all this time? Thank you!! I’m so glad I got to hike that first day with you. So far the transition has been alright. Easier the second time around, I think, though I can’t believe so much time has passed since that day at Scout and Frodo’s. Hope you’re well! 🙂

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  3. Steve L

    Thanks again for a great journal and congrats on another wonderful adventure! You really provided a true, honest, and fun picture of the trials and triumphs of the PCT which I appreciate as I plan my 2024 thruhike. Good luck on all your future adventures… Oh and tell Jumbo there is another new King Gizzard fan in the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You did it!!!! Thanks for sharing the whole adventure so beautifully and entertainingly with all of your readers around the globe!! Also, you and Jumbo are my current favorite love story. 😉 💕 (and I know, maybe it’s friendship, because there’s a certain kind of friendship that’s really deep true love – but it’s clearly something really Good. Friendships can be love stories too!)

    Liked by 1 person

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