Day 159: Penultimation

159. September 16: Mile 2625.28 Campsite to Mile 2646.19 Boundary Trail Junction 
The penultimate day on the PCT. It was a bitterly cold morning. So cold that my water actually had iced over a little bit over night. Getting up was once again a challenge but once we got moving everything was Kosher. The sun was able to warm the Earth just enough to be comfortable by lunch where we had a incredible spot view the mountains. This whole part of Washington has a feeling of classic American West with mountains and pine trees, but also has a vibe of Tuscany with dry yellow grasses covering hillsides. It’s very cool. Throughout this whole hike, actually as we’ve been in these amazing places you’d think that what you have been seeing in these photos must feel even better in person. But in some ways we’re still somewhat detached from it all. Since we’re still confined to the trail, it still just seems like a blown up picture. 

As we hiked a lot of hikers coming Sobo that had just come from the border and were exiting the trail via Hart’s Pass instead of Manning Park since they didn’t have the proper border paperwork. There was one small group in particular that caught my eye heading sobo. It was Belle, an Australian Cattle Dog that we had last seen entering the Sierras. Her owner uses her as a hearing alert dog and she thru hiked the entire trail including the Sierras! Other hikers coming back from the border were absolutely elated and on a total high. Tomorrow morning I too will be on that same high. 

In the afternoon we climbed up to the top of Rock Pass which then plummeted us down into a valley to them climb back up to Woody Pass. The whole section was just so breathtaking. I can’t even begin to describe it with my fourth grade vocabulary so here’s some photos to hopefully give you a sense of what it was like. 

Shortly after reaching Woody Pass we reached the peak of the final climb on the entire PCT. It really is all down hill from here. Hikers that we’ve hiked with at various times along the trail were all resting there taking it all in. Stephanie from Italy, Acorn and Jackie from Germany, Bin Chicken from Australia, a French couple, an Israeli, and others. I was actually the only American there. It was so cool to collectively be there together and soak in the last ridge views before descending to the border. 

While most of the group we had taken a break with were headed to the border tonight, we camped about three and a half miles from the northern terminus. There was a British guy named Martin, Chewy, Dave and Judith from Switzerland, Coyote from Japan, and a few others. We all shared our last on trail meals together and reminisced about our journeys by laughing, sharing stories, and discussing what we’re taking away from our experiences. For dinner, I decided to splurge and buy myself a dehydrated Mountain House meal and polished it off with what was left of the cinnamon roll I got at the Stehekin bakery. A fantastic day to end the day! The next time I sit down to write this, I’ll be in Canada! So stoked!

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