Day 172: A Last Cold, Snowy Day

Since before we even began, I’d heard and remembered tales of hikers coming over the last hill before getting to Canada, and seeing their destination stretching out before them. I’d wanted to experience the same thing myself, and really looked forward to doing that today. Except today, when we got there…you couldn’t see a thing. The clouds and snow meant that all we saw was one giant mass of white.

It was 35 degrees when we woke up this morning, with a stiff wind going — cold. It didn’t even break 45 the whole day, and mostly stayed below 40. The morning was spectacular, with the kind of dramatic weather-on-mountains we’ve learned that Washington throws at you often enough. It was amazing. But by midday, when we ate lunch, a strong wind started…and, not long after, the snow. We climbed mountains with snow blown in our faces by an icy wind. It wasn’t the kind of winter storms hikers fear that stop them from continuing — or even close — but it sure was freezing cold and unpleasant. I almost laughed through it, though, in many ways. After all, we’re less than seven miles away from the border with Canada, and only a little more than fifteen from Manning Park. At this point, it’d take a whole lot more than that to stop us.

We’re camped tonight beside a lake, along with easily six or eight other campers, some of whom started a campfire. It’s snowing on and off, and very cold out, but, without a wind, it really isn’t all that bad. It seems so fitting, this, like a reminder that winter really is coming — and so it’s time to end our hike.

I still can’t really wrap my head around it, either — that we really will fall asleep tomorrow night indoors, in a heated room, in a real bed…and, much more so, that that’s the way it’s going to be from now on. My mind keeps thinking of it as an extended zero — as if, sure, we might do that for a few days, but surely we’ll soon enough get back on the trail again. The idea that we won’t, that there in fact is no more trail, just doesn’t seem to make sense. In many ways it seems heavenly, but it’s also hard to understand.

In the mean time, we have just over six miles until we’ve completed the entire PCT. Six, out of two thousand, six hundred fifty miles. Wow. I’m a bit speechless — I really don’t know what to say. We’ve almost made it!

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