PCT miles 2651.3 to 2663.5 – Castle Pass to Manning Provincial Park – Total PCT miles 2663.5
This morning Roo, Chili Dog, Seahorse and I started out from Castle Pass, just a few miles from the US-Canadian border. We knew this was our last day on the trail. Our conversations and our rhythm of walking matched our anticipation. We felt on the verge of a great accomplishment. Joyful. Excited. Eager.
We walked into a clearing, mid-conversation and stopped in our tracks. Silent. Smiles spreading across our faces. Before us was our first view of the mowed-over 20 or so foot strip that slices the sub-alpine forest to denote the dividing line. The border. The end.
In other words, the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail was just a few switchbacks away.
We heard whoops ringing up from Monument 78. The cheers of Pepe Lopez, Boots and Bubbles. Friends who’d reached the border the night before and camped out to take pictures in the morning light. Chili Dog and Seahorse ran ahead to join our fellow thru-hikers.
I slowed down, wanting to savor the final steps and enjoy the last minutes before the culminating moment. To breath in the cold morning air of this chilly, shaded valley. To admire the delicate pattern of frost crystals on leaves. To fully imprint the feeling of the trail beneath my feet.
And yet, I was so excited I had to fight my need to rush ahead. So I’d pause. Savor. Breath. Snap a photo. Run up to Gabriel. He who calmly, steadily kept an even gait-just as he’d done every day of this journey.
A few more steps through the tunnel of Pacific silver fir and we were at the abrupt edge of the mowed strip that bisects Castle Creek valley. The end and the beginning. We crossed hand in hand into Canada.
Then began the ritual of photos, cocoa and celebrations that await PCT hikers when they reach the end of the trail. Our celebration included our last two cinnamon gummy bears.