Monday, December 28, 2015

Washington: Rainy Pass to Manning Park Canada Eh? (Plus Crater Lake)

The Last Section!

Trail Angel George once again rescued us at the Rainy Pass trailhead.  He asked some other hikers about us and they confirmed we weren't far behind.  In fact, we had told Hobbit Feet to tell George we were on our way and that he should give her beer which he did.  Also, we had been passing the word around that we had found a hiker wallet and to keep an eye out for someone looking for it.  Well, George found a posted note at the trailhead advertising a lost wallet and sure enough it was the same name of the wallet we found!  The trail community really is a small world.  On the back side of the lost wallet note that George found was another note that the same person had also lost their rain pants.  Way back near Snoqualmie pass.  The same rain pants Robin found and carried to Stevens pass and left in George's car!!!  Yup, we found his rain pants and his wallet.  He's one lucky (ahem,shitshow) that we found both and also happened to live in Seattle!! (we returned both items to him in Seattle when we got home)

We spent a night in Winthrop WA at the KOA.  It was a great night, with a campfire and beers.  We met a woman and her 9 yr old daughter who became interested in our hiking adventure.  We shared stories around the fire with them and Starboard was super excited to hear that the young girl was inspired to try hiking the trail when she reached 20 years.  It's amazingly satisfying to feel you've inspired just one person to think big and envision living their own dream.  We sincerely hope she does try hiking the PCT or whatever adventure she thinks of by 2026!

As nice as it was to relax in Winthrop, the weather forecast insisted that we get back on trail the next day (Tuesday 29th).  We desperately wanted and needed a day off.  We had not taken a zero day since Cascade Locks back on Sept 5th.  Robin's knee could use the rest.  This is part of the challenge of hiking the PCT: start late enough to make it through the Sierra after the snow melts, but hike fast enough to finish Washington before the snow falls again. (It's easily doable, but boy were we slow hikers!) We had a few rough days in the cold rain and we did not like it much.  The idea of struggling through the cold snow in this remote section was not very appealing.  So, with the weather forecasting dry and sunny for at least 4 more days, we decided we had to keep hiking.  The northern terminus and Manning Park was only a short 4 days away.  If we delayed hiking for a rest day, we risked hiking in the rain for the last day or two.

(Day 170, Sept 29th, Mile 2588.9-2599.3, hiked 10.4 miles)

Robin's knee was feeling better and the sun was shining.  Good Time tried to drink as many beers as possible before they kicked him back out of the van and onto the trail!
Sunny on Cutthroat Pass

What do you want Starboard?

The glaciated landscape of Washington, near Granite Pass - Yes, that line on the ridge to the right is the trail.

Starboard near Granite Pass

We managed to pass some trail magic to others at the Rainy Pass trailhead.  We left some beers and some mini-champagne bottles that ended up with Sass.
Starboard left her headlight in the van.  This was the 2nd time she forgot her headlamp:(  woops.
Methow Pass was an awesome spot to camp, one of our best on the trail.

Methow Pass Campsite, one of our best on the trail!

(Day  171 September 30th, mile 2599.3 to 2623.1, hiked 23.8 miles.)
This was a nice day of walking with a pretty sunrise dotted with stars and the moon.  This was to be an amazing day in that we didn't see any other through-hikers the entire day!  And the weather was decent enough that we were able to eat outside of the tent as we stopped early enough to have a little daylight left.

Morning, heading North from Methow Pass

Also, we made it to the 2600 mile marker!  The next milestone would be the border!

Last Mile marker!  Wow!

Beautiful Fall hiking

Nice spot for a break

We were starting to get really close to finishing the trail!  We were having great hiking weather, and this last section was really pretty.  Yet, we were both ready to be finished hiking.  We started thinking about sleeping indoors. Eating eating eating. Showering.  Clean laundry.  Not having to dig a cathole every morning.
We also were trying to make a logistical plan to go back to Crater Lake and finish hiking the 23 miles we missed due to the wildfire there.  All of these thoughts just made us want more and more to be finished.  Or at least to be at the border so we could hurry up and drive back to Oregon.  A real pressing sense of hurry.

Camp spot about a half mile south of Buffalo Pass

(Day 172, October 1st, mile 2623.1 to 2643.7, hiked 20.6 miles.)

Another day of great weather and nice walking.  This would finally be our last day full day on trail including camping at the end of the day.  Amazing.

Another fine morning

Tra la la....

We finally started running into hikers again.  We met a few hikers who had tagged the border monument and were hiking southbound back to Hart's Pass for a ride back to the world.  Congratulations all around for their success and our anticipated success.  Still, we talked about how demoralizing it would be to touch the border and then walk thirty miles back towards the south.  From the border monument, it's only about 9 miles to Manning Park and a bus ride to anywhere.  After all that walking, a short nine miles sounded a lot better than 30 miles, and even so Hart's Pass is pretty remote, on a dirt road.
That being said, one does need an entry permit to walk into Canada.  And there are certain reasons that Canada may not grant an entry permit.  We had our permits in hand and always had planned on walking to Manning Park, where Trail Angel Nancy was planning to pick us up.

More fine fall weather

Near Hopkins Pass

We also started seeing some Northbound hikers too.  It was quite fascinating that we were still meeting new people on the trail after all this time!  We camped at a nice lake (Hopkins Lake) for our last night on the trail.  All the anticipation to finish, and I still slept like a dead person.

Our last campsite on the trail, Hopkins lake

Day 173, October 2nd 2015.  mile 2643.7 to  2650.1, hiked 6.4 miles to Monument 78 the Canadian Border Monument!!!  We made it!!
(and then we hiked from 2650.1 to 2658.91 (8.81 miles) to Manning Park)

Our beards really filled in nicely the last few days

The day before Sass and Skeeter Bait finally caught up to us on Hopkins Pass.  We had been hearing rumors that they were somewhere behind us and we were so happy to see them again.  And we were happy to be finishing with these awesome women who we'd seen off and on since Cajon Pass (mile 341 ) and Carson Pass (mile 1076 )

We were so excited to finally touch the monument!  When we arrived we started hooting and hollering and some guys who were already there cheered us on!  We didn't know them, as they were southbound section hikers, but they were nice and took pictures for us.

We made it!  And we're still talking to each other!!

Then, Starboard and I had the monument to ourselves for a few minutes which was kind of nice.
Soon enough we could hear Sass and Skeeter Bait approaching and then it was hugs and congratulations all around!

We all had some celebration champagne and had a great time celebrating at the monument.

Goodtime, Starboard, Skeeter Bait and Sass celebrating

The next 8 miles were a wonderment.  They were agonizing.  We just wanted to be done hiking.  But they were also surreal.  Really?  We just thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico?  Holy shit!  We really are almost done.  Wait, really?  We're still on the trail?

It was a giddy, yet melancholy hike into Manning Park.  We talked about the logistics of getting back down to Crater Lake to complete the skipped miles.  We wondered about our other trail friends who we hadn't seen for a while.
We wondered just how many beers we could drink tonight?  How much food could we eat?
We were excited that we would not have to hike tomorrow.  Finally.

We popped out on the road and there was Trail Angel Nancy again!  Woohoo!!! She had cold beverages for us, and a ride in a car the last tiny bit to the Manning Park lodge.  Hot showers, restaurant meals and a bed.  Nice.

We had a plan.  We left Manning Park the next morning, Oct 3rd and drove to Washington to collect our travel van.  We managed to drop off the rain pants and wallet we had found on the trail to the owner in Seattle. We spent a brief night at home doing some laundry and left the next day.  Oct 4th we drove back down to Crater Lake, OR to complete the miles we had to skip due to the wildfire in August.
(We had arrived in Mazama Village on August 18th, just after the PCT had been closed due to wildfire.  At the time, we had tried to come up with a reroute to continuously walk the PCT without skipping.  In the end, we found the lack of water resources along the reroute to be too risky.  We caught a car ride around the fire closure from Mazama Village to Highway 138, having to skip approximately 23 trail miles between 1819 and 1845 along the Crater Lake Rim Alternate.)

It was actually exciting to be back in Oregon.  But also funny to drive so fast through so much distance that had taken us so much more time to walk.

(Day 176, October 5th.  Mile 1819.2-1845.32; approx 23 miles along the Crater Lake Rim Trail alternate)
We got up early on Oct 5th to hike from Mazama Village to Highway 138.  It was amazing how much different Mazama was now.  In the summer, it was a very busy place.  Lots of tourists and lots of hiker trash.  The campground had been full.  The parking lot was full.  The store was a real buzz of activity all the time.  Now, in October?  Nothing.  The campground was closed.  The store was mostly closed.  The hotel was closed for the season.  The parking lot was empty.  There was almost nobody around.  We had the trail to ourselves almost.

Back to the Scene
Are you ready?

It was a crisp morning, but a gorgeous day.  We slogged up the hill, anticipating great views of the lake and the scenery to come.  We argued about where we would find water.
And then there it was.  Crater Lake.  Awesome.


We had a nice lunch and then enjoyed the views around the lake.

Crater Lake
We're still having fun?

Mt Thielsen in the distance, with some puffs of smoke from the forest fire that was still burning

Soon, we were North of the lake and back into the trees of Oregon.  Now we had about 9 more miles to hike to Highway 138 and our completion of the PCT.  Nine long, boring agonizing miles.  Now we really did just want to be done.  It was a beautiful day for hiking.  But we'd had a lot of beautiful hiking days.
And then we were finished.

I'm Done!
Return to our drop off spot


We crossed Highway 138 and tagged the PCT sign on the tree at the trail where we had been dropped off after skipping around the Crater Lake Fire Closure back in August.  We made it.  We finished.  Good Time Grant and Starboard hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail.  Woohoo!!!!

Starboard had stashed a bottle of champagne in the woods to celebrate with and we stood around smiling and laughing and drinking champagne to celebrate.  Amazing.

We just hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail!

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