Sept 4: Exit to Manning Park

Today is a four mile hike, mostly downhill to the small community of Manning Park, the closest town to the northern end of the PCT.  It is technically illegal to hike south on the PCT into the US, but there is nothing really to stop anyone.  Not that I condone it: Don’t do it, who knows what will happen!

I arrived at Manning Park and visited the lodge where they have (slow) WiFi and free showers.  I tried to get in touch with a driver (“Yeti”) that provides rides to Vancouver (roughly 2.5 hours away).  I was unable to get ahold of Yeti, but I did get my shower.  I decided that I’d better start hitchhiking because it may get crowded.

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I had heard both happy and sad stories about hitching to Vancouver from Manning Park.  Luckily mine was one of the happier ones!  I got a ride within 15 minutes from a young guy going to Vancouver.  He also knew the area where I was headed and drove me all the way there.  I offered to pay him or at least buy him lunch for his kindness, but instead suggested that I “pay it forward”.  I promised I would.

I found a Starbucks for snacks and WiFi where Liz helped me arrange my travel home — it truely was a “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” way to get home: Car ride to Vancouver, Train ride to Seattle, Plane to San Jose.  I also found a laundromat to clean all my clothes!

Last year I met Quiterie (AKA, Kit or “Mens Shoes”) in Chester and hiked with her and Cloud Rider through Lassen NP to Burney.  Kit lives in Vancouver and offered to let me crash on her couch for the evening and drop me off at the train station the next morning.  Thanks Kit!

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And so ends my epic, five year journey on the PCT!  It started as just wanting to fulfill a teenager dream to hike the John Muir Trail and morphed into so much more.  More than 2650 miles from Campo, CA to Manning Park, Canada.  While it was physically demanding, the real challenge is mental.  There were days when I wondered if it was worth it.  I kept telling myself  “Don’t quit on a bad day.”, and so I did not quit.  I did have one injury that suspended hiking last year, but I returned!

So many thanks!

I truly believe that I could never have accomplished the initial 240+ mile Horseshoe Meadows-to-Yosemite Vally Hike (my extended JMT hike), the 180+ mile Tuolumne Meadows-to-Tahoe hike, the 750+ mile Campo-to-Horseshoe-Meadows hike, the 600+ Tahoe-to-Ashland hike, and this years 900+ mile Ashland-to-Canada without the help and encouragement of family and friends.

The biggest sacrifice came from my wife, Liz, who not only encouraged me, watched a bazillion YouTube videos about backpacking and PCT adventures, joined me on practice hikes, helped me plan, offered advice, shared equipment, earnedthe money, paid the bills, ran errands for me, and maintained the house while I was out doing my thing.  She didn’t complain (much), but I do know that it has been hard on her and she has had to spend the last few summers alone.  Thank you so much Liz!  I owe you a lot!

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I also got support from a host of other old and new friends: For my extended JMT in 2015, a friend from NJ, Kevin Psarianos, flew out to join Liz and I to start my trip. 

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We hiked up Mt. Langley together, but Kevin had to leave early due to a family emergency.  A few weeks later, Mark Ostrau climbed over Bishop Pass and braved the mosquitoes in Dusy Basin to bring me a food resupply that included a TwoFish Sticky bun and a very nice Pinot Noir.

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Mark and Sandy joined Liz to meet me in Yosemite Valley to feed me and celebrate: Of course, they all wanted to go hiking and dragged me along until I pointed out the place we were renting had a very comfy looking reclining chair that I intended to try out.

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In 2016, Jan and Patricja Schwoebel drove me up to Yosemite and dropped me off at Tuolumne Meadows.

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After I arrived in Tahoe, Dana Kreitter met me and delivered me back home.

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In 2017, my father, Pat and his wife, Janet dropped me off at Trail Angels Scout and Frodo’s house in San Diego, where I would get transported to the Southern Terminus.

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Liz drove down to Wrightwood to bring me supplies and spend a weekend with me.

Greg Watson met me (and Medic) at Warner Pass, delivered us to a hotel in Ridgecrest, bought us dinner and lunch the next day and then dropped us back off on the PCT.

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Mike Park and David Carnivale shipped a care package to me for pickup at Kennedy Meadows containing a nice bottle of wine, a cigar and a flask of whiskey!

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Piyush Kothari drove up to Kennedy Meadows, hiked section of trail with me and cooked me an awesome dinner and breakfast.

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Steve Schaniel met me in Lone Pine and drove me home by way of his family’s cabin in June Lake.

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After I returned to work, my friend Lisa Lee presented me with an amazing gift:  She created a Tie-Dye T-Shirt commemorating my hike.  The skill of capturing mountain peaks, trees, lakes and terrain are just amazing.  Thank you so much for this treasured gift Lisa!

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In 2018, Liz drove me up to Lake Tahoe and started climbing Mt Tallac with me before heading back home.  She then drove up to spend a weekend with me in Dunsmuir where we played board games and did some sightseeing.

Alice and Rob Diefenbach picked me up near Ashland, OR and drove me all over to buy food and send resupply packages out.  They also hosted me an extra week to try and help my shin splints heal, but alas, it was not to be.  They then couriered me to the airport to return me home.

This year, Alice and Rob once again took me in and delivered me to the trailhead.

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Mike Hobbs picked me up at Snoqualmie, housed me and showed me around Seattle.  He helped me get to and from my niece’s wedding in Anacortes and then returned me to the trail.

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René and Jack Hulbert met me in Skykomish, fed me an awesome lunch, took me sightseeing and delivered me back to Stevens Pass. Kit took me in Vancouver and delivered me to my train home.

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To all of you, and to all the friendly Trail Angels, hikers, and just nice people I met along the way, and to all you blog and Facebook readers that viewed, read, commented or liked my ramblings, I cannot thank you enough for all your help!  You are all as much a part of my adventure as the trail was.  I am in debt to each and every one of you!   Especially you, Liz!

Duck has left the trail!

Thanks for reading!

 

Sep 3: campsite above Holman Creek Trail junction to Northern Terminus (PCT miles 2638.3 to 2653.1), and then 4 miles into Canada!

Today is the day I finish the PCT!  I’m so excited!  I have a big uphill in the morning and believe that I’ll be lunching at the Northern Terminus monument.  The sun was rising as I started hiking up and over the next-to-last pass.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2666UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2667

This is the start of the final pass on the PCT.  I’ll hike up into that gap, then traverse to the right on the other side.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2669UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_266b

Here’s a view from the top of the final pass!

I hiked pass Hopkins Lake – it looked so inviting to take a swim, but I’m so close to the end that I passed on the opportunity.

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So, join me now as we hike the last bit of the PCT!  That’s “Doin’ Stuff” greeting me at the border, waiting for someone to happen along and take photos of him.

I made it!

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Many people asked me if there was a wall at the border with Canada – there is not, in fact, there is an un-wall: a clearcut that runs east-west:

And so, I took photos of “Doin’ Stuff” at the border and he took photos of me before he started hiking south, back some 30 miles to Harts Pass. I am surprised how many PCT hikers choose to hike back to Harts Pass as opposed of entering Canada and hiking north another 8 miles.  Some failed to request an entry visa, others failed to bring their passports, but some just decided it would be simpler to stay in the US.

I ate lunch and entered Canada.  I arrived a very nice campsite, had an early dinner then dove into my tent as a thunderstorm struck right above me.  It was loud, but the rain light and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Tonight I will sleep well!  My PCT is done!

Thanks for reading!

Sep 2: Glacier Pass to campsite above Holman Creek Trail junction (PCT miles 2612.6 to 2638.3)

I awoke before dawn to get a jump on the long uphill I have today.  Low clouds were rolling into Glacier Pass as I climbed the ridge above it.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2650

Today is another day full of great views:UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2651UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2653UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2654

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After getting above Glacier Pass, the trail is a very gradual up/down traverse, as seen in the photos below:

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I passed by the last PCT road crossing, Harts Pass.  I was hoping for trail magic but found none.  Then I passed a couple of day hikers and chatted with them.  They gave me a Honey Crisp Apple as Trail Magic.  It was the best apple I have ever eaten!

I hiked up into a high valley where I would set up camp.  It will be my last night actually on the PCT: Tomorrow I will reach the Northern Terminus (the end of the PCT) and then hike another 4 miles into Canada to camp.  I decided to find a remote location in this valley to camp.  Unfortunately, this valley seems to be a Mecca for horse campers.  I found some very remote camp sites, but they were all fouled with horse dung.  I’m not sure how horse camping works – is one really camped next to piles of horse dung and piss?  Perhaps they bring cots and I guess they are quite comfortable with the smell.  But, it’s not for me.  I found a place a little bit away from the listed PCT campsite, and enjoyed my last night on PCT.

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Here’s the view looking south at where I came from today.

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I can’t believe that my PCT adventure is almost over!

Thanks for reading!

Sep 1: Rainy Pass to Glacier Pass (PCT miles 2589.3 to 2612.6)

I got up early and hiked up to the Rainy Pass Trailhead.  There were a ton of cars in the parking lot, which is to be expected since it is Labor Day Weekend.  I may have some problems finding a campsite tonight…

There were ominous looking clouds in the morning at the aptly named Rainy Pass, but they soon dissipated and a beautiful day emerged.

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In this photo you can just barely see how the trail follows a very long traverse along the ridge to the right:UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_264d

And in this photo you can see a very long traverse on the ridge to the left.  These were spectacular hikes!  To my Washington-based friends: the section north of Rainy Pass is a fantastic place for a day hike or weekend backpacking trip.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_264f

It was great to be out of the trees again!

I had hoped to camp at Bush Creek, which is a good water supply and has a few campsites.  I arrived there at about 3pm and all the sites were taken, more hikers were behind me, and there was a group of about eight weekend hikers cooking dinner and planning to hike up to Glacier Pass to camp.  I decided that I too needed to camp up at Glacier Pass, but I wanted to get there before the crowds so I quickly filled my water bottles for dry camping.  I decided to take an extra liter of water in my collapsable water bag since it would be a warm afternoon climb up to the next pass.

After about a half mile up the trail I noticed that my back and pants were wetter than normal and quickly learned that my water bag was leaking, and worse, I had put it inside my pack so it was leaking on everything.  Luckily I always assume my pack will get wet inside, so I put my sleeping bag and clothes in trash compactor bags.  I moved the bag to the outside of the pack and oriented it to not leak so much.

I arrived at the campsite at Glacier Pass and found it empty.  It was much bigger than I had expected, so I relaxed a bit – no overcrowding tonight!  A few other PCT hikers showed up and we set up our little section of camp.  There were a few thin trails leading out of camp and downhill that I decided to explore.  I found a beautiful meadow with a running stream and multiple empty campsites about 100 meters away.  I was surprised to not see it on the map, but it just goes to show you that there are always more and better places than the one you’ve selected.

Liz had informed me that there was the possibility of seeing the Norther Lights tonight, so every time I woke up I looked through the trees to the north.  No luck.  I guess I’ll have to experience that on some other trip.

I’m making such good time, and the trail is such a nice trail, that I think I will finish yet another day earlier at this point: Arriving at the Northern Terminus on Tues, Sept 3 and exiting to Manning Park the next day.  That is so exciting!

Thanks for reading!

Aug 31: High Bridge Ranger Station to just south of Rainy Pass (PCT miles 2572.4 to 2589.3)

I tried to sleep in this morning: the first shuttle is at 9am and includes a trip to the bakery for breakfast.  Once it got light at about 6am, I just had to get up, so I packed up and moved down to the tables near the store.  My food resupply had provisions for 6 days at about 15 miles/day.  I reviewed the maps and now think I can reach the Northern Terminus in five days and walk to Manning Park (Canada) on the morning of the sixth day (Sept 5).  My food resupply is so heavy, so I crawled through everything and donated a lot of good food to the hiker box.

Stehekin has no cell service, but you can purchase (purported very slow) WiFi from the store.  But, it has one really cool thing: a free land line!  I had used it yesterday to call Liz and some friends.  Today I’m using it to add a note to my REI “World” card that I will be traveling to Canada.  That did not go so well: the concierge service listed on the card has nothing to do with the Credit Card company, they just try to be your go-between.  I was unable to get the note added — it left me wondering why it has the word “World” prominently stamped on it.  I’ve now corrected the card:

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I caught the first bus out, picked up a pumpkin muffin and coffee for breakfast and started hiking by 10am.  Today’s hike starts a 25 mile gradual uphill stretch of the PCT past Rainy Pass and Cutthroat Pass.  With my late start and general uphill trail, I am not sure how far I will go today.

I passed by a lily pad filled lake where people have reported bear sightings.  I still have not seen a bear this trip!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2643 This section of the trail is also very popular with day hikers and weekend backpackers.  There is a lot of horse poop on the trail, a lot of it very fresh.  I aldo chanced upon a more permanent type of horse dropping.

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There was not a lot of scenery to see today, so alas I did not take many pictures.  I am told the area north of Rainy Pass has tons of great views.  I’m hoping so.

I set up camp just south of Rainy Pass and was joined by a pair of southbound PCT hikers.  We were visited by an all-too-friendly buck that hung out in the camp site.  We tried shooing it off, but it kept returning and waking us up.  Seems this section of the National Forest needs a few more large predators.

Finally the deer left us alone and we all slept well.

Thanks for reading!

Aug 30: Pass Creek to High Bridge Ranger Station (PCT miles 2568.2 to 2572.4)

We all got up early to hike the four miles to the High Bridge Ranger Station to catch the shuttle to Stehekin.  Here’s the “High Bridge” near the Ranger Station and Shuttle stop.

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The shuttle runs every few hours and wanted to make sure we were on the first one.  We also had no idea how many other hikers might be there.  It turns out we arrived in plenty of time to hang our tents to dry and the shuttle was nowhere near full.

We stopped at the bakery on the way to town and pigged out on the way to town.

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I collected my resupply box from the Post Office (thank you Liz!), swam in Lake Chela, had a nice lunch and a great dinner.

I camped at the PCT group camp.  Tomorrow I start hiking the last section of the PCT!

Thanks for reading!

Aug 29: Miners Creek to campsite near Pass Creek (PCT miles 2545.0 to 2568.2)

I packed up and hiked up and over a 3,000 foot ridge.  It is finally not bothering me so much that I have large climbs.  My shin is doing fine and only complaining every now and then, the weather is not too hot and the trail is smooth with more great views.

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I also came across a late-blooming flower and a tree/shrub with autumn-colored leaves

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I passed through an area that burned last year and closed the PCT.

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I arrived at my targeted camp site and found that two other hikers, “More Food” and “Moni”, beat me there.  I found a camp site above theirs on a moss-covered domed rock.  It looked like it might rain, so I gathered some large stones to anchor my tent’s rain fly should I need it.

I joined More Food (Patrizia from Switzerland) and Moni (Monika from Germany) for dinner.  I really nice talking with them.  I learned that More Food is always short of food.  I grabbed my food back and offered her some of my extra food items, which she took all of: Fritos, Snickers, candy and Oreos.  It was great to be a traveling Trail Angel, like Metric Ton, but without carrying quite so much gear!

I mentioned that the clouds looked a bit like rain, but we all convinced ourselves that it wont.  At about midnight I felt drops on my face and quickly put the rain tarp on my tent.  The stones held the fly in place and all was well.

Tomorrow I will arrive in Stehekin for my final resupply!

Thanks for reading!