I woke up in the middle of the night and stared at the full moon. In just a few hours I would be packing up for the last time. The excitement is a little more bittersweet now. It's cold and beautiful out and I'm sad that tonight I'll be in a house in a city miles from the trail.
The thing about the border monument is, its in the middle of the forest. You yell and jump around and then as you calm down you have to laugh because the nearest major road is almost 9 miles away in a place called Manning Park, Canada. Yes you are done, but you aren't really done yet.
I had to face the fact that there was hiking ahead of me. Everyone slept in, but that just seems to mean 6 instead of 5. Oh what wild lives we lead. There is nothing quiet about our gear, trash bags rustle, clothing swishes, even my body audibly creaks. Basically everything we own makes noise. Noise and cold are great motivators. The thing is, when you look around and see people wearing their sleeping bags you know its cold. Sitting around eating cold trail breakfast, no thanks. Today is the first day of September and it really feels like fall.
I dragged myself out of bed and decided not to hang about. There was no rush but if I'm not moving I become frozen and I really just wanted to hike.
Across a bridge and onto some genuine Canadian trail. Definitely not PCT grade, rocks and roots and pointless ups and downs. Is this a taste of my future? (thats an AT reference by the way...no decision made yet). But the excitement is still there and as I climb I just look at the mountains and grin.
The rest of the group passes me but I decide I want to stay hiking alone. I'm not in the mood for talking or rushing and just wander alone up the trail. A few miles later I hit the top and as the trail becomes a fire road it starts to drop down into the valley. The descent feels long, but so short too. Every time I glance at a sign or a mileage marker I realize how truly close this all is to ending. So many thoughts are running through my head. I'm happy and thinking about food (as usual) but really I'm thinking about other trails and other adventures. The Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail are debated thoroughly as I head down the mountain and no decisions are made but it's hard not to dream. The trail levels out, follows a river and there are people all over the place. Then I'm walking down a road and there it is. A giant bustling parking lot, Manning Park Canada. Talk about overwhelming. But I'm still laughing and happy and there are Caveman and the cousins and Pika. And we are all really here and have actually finished this thing.
The place seems like a giant fancy rest area and we camp out on some picnic tables, celebrating by devouring a box of peaches.
Caveman has some friends near Vancouver BC who have offered to let us stay with them and show us around but it's hours until they are picking us up. Pika gets a room at the hostel and we all shower and eat and mostly just look sort of dazed. Or maybe that's just me, it's hard to tell. We finally head back to the parking lot and an hour or so later are crammed into a car speeding away from the PCT.
What a drive. I do pretty well but about 15 minutes before our destination I start to panic a bit. I've never been one to get car sick but it's been a bit too much and I feel dizzy and jittery and all cramped up. We pile out of the car somewhere in suburbia and I breathe a deep sigh of relief. I do not like sitting in cars right now, I do know that. It's dark and past my bedtime but our hosts are so excited that we stay awake eating and talking until far too late before completely crashing.
Tonight I'm sleeping in a house in a bed. It feels amazing but so alien. Let's see how the next few days go.
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