|Woke up to rain... look at that water running down the trail!|
The trail climbed towards Woody Pass, and the rain turned to snow. SNOW!? I had a few choice words for the PCT, but I really shouldn't say them on this blog. =) I had to trudge through a lot of snow in the High Sierras, but it never dared to actively snow on me. I wasn't terribly concerned about the snow. Snow had not been in the forecast, and I doubted it would accumulate much. Route-finding without a map was not my idea of fun, but I didn't expect it to come to that. It's just the principle of the matter. I felt like the PCT was just trying to rub me out, adding insult to injury. The trail hated me. I just knew it. It wanted me to get off. I agreed--I wanted to get off the trail too.
|Here's a close-up of that trail. Wet and muddy!|
Most of the day, I was trying to decide if I would actually hike all the way to the Canadian border today or not. I could set up camp at the Canadian border if I had to. I'd seen photos of the border before, and I could camp there. The data points from the page Walrus gave me showed an official campsite less than a quarter mile away on the Canadian side of the border I could also use.
But I was also a little bothered at the thought of reaching the Canadian border, officially completing the trail, and still being stuck on the trail for another night! Damn it, when I reached the Canadian border, I was done! I should be off the trail and indoors where it was warm and dry that same night! But there weren't any campsites listed as being near the border on the US side.
Late in the afternoon, I finally decided to make a run for the border, and use the campsite on the Canadian side of the border. Once the trail descended in elevation again, the snow turned back to a cold, wet rain. It pretty much rained or snowed constantly the entire day.
|Snow begins to accumulate near Woody Pass.|
Late in the day, I reached another trail junction with a sign pointing towards the "U.S. Border."
"Crap!" I thought. "And all this time, I thought I was hiking to the Canadian border!"
It was rather a shock to see that sign. I had been so focused on Canada and the Canadian border, it completely slipped my mind that it could also be called the US border. I really wanted a sign that pointed the way to the Canadian border! But at least I knew I was walking in the correct direction still.....
I estimated how long it would take me to reach the Canadian border, and expected to reach it at around 5:00 in the afternoon. It was too cold and wet to stop for a break, so I pushed on.
Ahead, I looked for that line through the trees marking the Canadian border. A line of trees had been cut down along the border, marking the boundary of the United States and Canada. I'd seen it in photos and knew it was out there somewhere. I was sure some of the mountains I could occasionally see in the distance was Canada, but I looked for signs of Canada--I looked for that line cut through the mountains, but the fog and rain was so bad, I couldn't see much of anything. If Canada was out there, it was hiding from me.
|The dusting of snow is rather scenic.....|
I whooped loudly in return, and he--or someone--whooped again in return. Hmm... Okay....
I picked up my pace a little, to catch up to whoever it was, and found Hui crouched on the ground with his camera, with his umbrella positioned over the camera to keep it from getting wet, pointing it at the monument marking the end of the trail. Whaaat? I was a little disoriented. Why was this monument here and not at the Canadian border? I blame the cold for my slow reaction.
I had reached Canada! I made it! Mexico to Canada! I dropped my pack and Hui and I threw an impromptu celebration. It didn't look like I remembered in photos I had seen. The swath cut through the trees was a lot narrower than I had expected. And the photos always seemed warmer and drier than the weather we had today.
|Those footpints... they must be Hui's, I thought.|
And he must not have been far ahead, because
those prints haven't been there long!
Hui set to work to retrieve the register from Monument 78. The monument is hollow and the register is inside, so he tried to lift the top, and I started taking photos. He pulled up, hard, saying how heavy it was, and I couldn't help but laugh--it looked like he was trying to vandalize the monument. Like someone knocking over the gravestones in a cemetery.
"This is heavy!" he said, straining his voice. "I might need your help here!"
I didn't help, though. I was too busy laughing and taking photos. The monument started to tip over, a little at first, then finally fell over with a significant thud and broke into two pieces. Hui and I didn't realize that the monument came apart in two pieces. It would have been a lot easier to remove them one at a time than both at once like he did. =)
Hui took photos of each of the last dozen or two pages of the register--people sometimes write e-mail addresses or contact information, or notes to other hikers behind him. He didn't want to copy it all down, so he just took photos for later reference, then signed the register himself. I noticed that White Beard, Third Monty, and The Graduate had logged in earlier in the day. Danny--who I thought was behind me and I kept hoping would catch up with my maps!--had logged in the day before! Damn!
|Then the snow turned back into rain as soon as the trail|
started descending again. (There are actually flurries when
I took this photo, but it was turning back into rain by this point.)
The scrawl looked like something written by a first grader learning their letters. The letters were an inch tall--hesitant and crooked, not following the lines on the paper at all. But it was so darn cold, I just couldn't get my fingers to work. I put the register back in the hole in the ground, then picked up the base of the monument to replace it.
$@*%! That thing was heavy! I suddenly had a new appreciation for how difficult it was for Hui to knock the monument over in the first place. I was only trying to pick up half of it and was having trouble. My frozen hands weren't helping matters either, and I had to be careful not to pinch my fingers between the base and the monument. My fingers were so numb, I could probably have pinched one off completely and not even realized it. I finally maneuvered the first piece into place, then set to work on the second piece, getting it into place as well.
I needed to get into camp and warm up. I put my pack back on, picked up my umbrella, took one last look around, bade goodbye to the United States, and walked into Canada.
|The US border?! And all this time I thought|
I was hiking to the Canadian border!
After a half hour or so, I was sufficiently warmed up enough to set about cooking dinner, or my "last supper" as I decided to call it. After dinner, I wrote in my journal for about five minutes--I didn't actually write very much since I was pretty certain this day would stand out in my mind for quite some time--then went to sleep. The trail might be done, but my hike was not.
|The end of the trail!|
Hui attempts to "vandalize" Monument 78. That first monument marks the end of the PCT. This monument marks the 78th mile/monument of the US/Canadian border, thus, the name of Monument 78. (I'm not sure if there's a monument at every mile, or if this just happens to the be 78th one. But this monument is to mark the US/Canadian border--not the end of the PCT. The wooden one marks the end of the PCT.)
|Hui signs the register. Notice the line cut through the trees marking|
the US/Canadian border. The US is on the left (in this photo) and Canada
on the right.
|Gotta check the time that I finished the trail! =) About a half hour before I expected!|
|I did it! I did it! Even the cold can't wipe the smile off my face! =)|