NORTHERN WASHINGTON, THE TERMINUS, AND CROSSING THE BORDER INTO CANADA!

[NB: This last section of my blog is unfortunately rather late due to the sudden tragic death of my iPhone on Day 152.. as a consequence I’ve had to rewrite a large part of the initial blog through memory.. as well as the latter part due to a sudden lack of enthusiasm due to the aforementioned death of the phone and subsequent loss of all pictures and information?!

I am unable to remember much at all of what happened on both Day 151 and Day 153 so my account has been kept short on these two days as they were the last I wrote.. and felt the need to finish and get this posted!

Presently the pictures throughout these last days have been borrowed from the internet.. and will hopefully be substituted with my actual pictures if and when I am able to retrieve them from the chip at some time in the future?!)

(NB: All pictures with a black border to the left and right are kind curtesy of Bennet Murch.. also known as ‘Strider’.. Thank you!)

F248A68C-1236-4F99-835B-D3A8AD29C48APCT DAY 147.. August 30th Mile 2405.3 4800 feet 14.8 miles

Departed the little town of Snoqualmie just after mid day climbing the nearby mountains and traversing the far side with spectacular views to the horizon due to a cold front that came through last night clearing the lingering smoke of the fires that were plainly visible to the east in the distance!

5BE6DD6C-FDC8-49A3-83CF-1F785BC300D7Today was all about traversing enormous tracts drawn into the surrounding mountains and distant peaks! I was able to see my path for many miles and hours ahead.. so very different from much of the past weeks where the trail has been cloaked in the greenery of the encompassing forest.. As the sun was setting.. I stopped for the night and set up my tent by a small pond at the edge of yet another magical forest..

img_5596PCT DAY 148.. August 31st Mile 2432.1 4300 feet 26.8 miles

YAHOO! Huckleberries are in season!! For the last month as I hike.. huckleberries and blueberries have been so plentiful that I.. like most hikers have been supplementing our daily intake with copious amounts of fresh berries picked on the trail! For those that have never tasted a huckleberry.. they are very similar in appearance to blueberries.. but the flavor is uniquely full bodied and sweet.. they are absolutely delicious!

342F0B78-7239-452C-B5C0-6D6819E4EB73Getting closer to that line that defines the border to the north! I know I’ll be over the moon to arrive.. however at the same time I am mindful that I will greatly miss this trail.. and all the amazing people on it.. Together they have defined the path and direction of my life for the last 5 months!!

FA621AB3-FBF6-487F-ADA5-2B0985BB6AE7PCT DAY 149.. September 1st Mile 2454.2 4600 feet 22.1 miles

Today I met a group of 4 amazing young individuals.. Julianna.. Everett.. Jackson and Thomas.. who represent some of Americas youth that have an interest in discovering and experiencing the incredible beauty of the outdoors and all that it has to offer! They are seniors in High School and amongst their busy schedules.. their greatest pleasure is living and hiking the numerous trails that abound in this gorgeously picturesque state!

4443E419-D643-4E94-BF41-18CED972CC70I had hiked the day over breathtaking mountains and pristine turquoise lakes..to finish in a valley at a place called Mig Lake.. It was here I met the group.. all of whom were to individually inspire me as the evening progressed! Full of the fun and laughter of life.. we swapped stories and chatted over dinner and throughout the evening.. Amongst other things.. they had created a hikers club at school with over 50 members.. and since this was their final year together.. had undertaken this 4 day hike creating memories that would last a lifetime.. Each will go on to colleges of their choice next year and though life will temporarily though inevitably separate them.. each from the other.. the union they share in friendship will remain.. forever unbroken!

“From youths seeds of friendship propagated.. evolve enduring bonds of love sustained!”

7977D5DD-3FCB-43C5-A67E-30623142A71APCT DAY 150.. September 2nd Mile 2476.1 5500 feet 21.9 miles

In the early morning as the group still slept.. I packed up my tent and continued on my way.. a solitary figure in the early morning mists through to Stevens Pass and from there on to the summit of a solitary mountain curiously named ‘Grizzly Peak’!

13AB950D-C79E-4B45-A6E7-827B53CB7384At Stevens Pass.. a ski resort.. I bought additional food to supplement my resupply and instead of hitching a lift into the small town of Skykomish.. decided to continue through the mountains and on into valleys abundant in lakes and clear water springs.. I arrived in the early evening at Grizzly Peak where I set up camp somewhat reassured in the knowledge that a family of section hikers were similarly camped nearby!

733DD15A-2208-43AD-8994-173A26F55333EDF7D8B5-241A-4302-94D0-55CE15D3B6FDThe night was uneventful and I was never able to fully understand the origin of this unusually named peak?!

D15E085F-54D8-43BA-9B2B-F3389840FFCEPCT DAY 151.. September 3rd Mile 2504.0 5400 feet 27.9 miles

The day began as it ended.. cloaked in the mists of oncoming winter and chilled by the winds at elevation! Time appeared to stand still as I waded through steps bogged down in imaginary treacle and the day seemed never to end! It was not until late afternoon that the trail dried and the sun made it’s all to brief appearance.. Night descended early no doubt assisted by the blanket of cloud above.. and I retired once again for an early nights sleep!

0782F5A6-D487-4A73-B837-6EEE95F3EB39PCT DAY 152.. September 4th Mile 2526.8 5900 feet 22.8 miles

Milk Creek!! Milk Creek will always have particular significance as a water crossing for me on the PCT?! Hidden in a forested valley between two enormous mountains requiring countless switchbacks.. the creek itself is a raging torrent of whitewater with a slightly milky hue due to its glacial origins only a mile or so upstream! Boulders worn smooth by natures incessant flow.. river beds and the rocks therein have all been shaped through the ravages of time.. and their likes are seen constantly throughout the PCT.. this one however stands out as it had quite a substantial footbridge seemingly locking the two mountains together! A footbridge that by all counts should have prevented me from plunging headlong into the icy waters of this wild torrent!

That I almost drowned in this innocuous creek is a constant reminder of the need to always consider the perils surrounding us.. and the need to always be mindful of hidden dangers lurking unsuspected.. at any moment in time?

C5631F3D-7930-4F14-B2C9-C5BB19C373DD1D0A81CC-8E42-4B81-BBC3-456BEE3A955BI needed water before the next climb.. the last of a spectacular day of switchbacks.. both up and down.. a testament in themselves to the severity of the gradient in Washington’s jumble of mountains! The bridge above the creek was too high to collect water so I climbed down the slope and ended up perched on two of the aforementioned boulders.. With the aid of a ‘seemingly substantial’ branch which I grabbed for support in one hand.. I reached down to collect a bottle’s worth of water! Unfortunately the now.. ‘not so substantial’ branch abruptly snapped off and launched me headfirst into the middle of Milk Creek!!

93696A16-A2BE-4B0E-8187-E65DBD368736The breath was instantly knocked out of me due to the extreme cold.. and still under the seething whitewater.. I knew instantly I had to grasp hold of a boulder.. any boulder to prevent myself being dragged downstream and over the near falls?! I had already narrowly missed cracking my head on several boulders as they’d rushed by.. and as I surfaced I found myself clinging to yet another.. midstream! Hauling myself to the side and subsequently out of the turgidly frigid waters I suddenly realized my iPhone.. (literally my right arm!) was in my pocket.. and had therefore suffered similarly! Reaching my pack I instantly surrounded my understandably ailing phone with rice in a zip lock bag.. and then to warm my own ‘shaking’ body.. I took off up the switchback totally drenched.. my trail runners and socks soaked.. but feeling justifiably lucky to be alive.. and once again on the trail?!

Unfortunately my phone never did recover.. but rather suffered a tragic end.. and as a consequence I lost most of my Washington pictures for the last few weeks.. all contacts and information.. and all my notes for this blog?! (They had yet to be backed up..) I am.. and have therefore been rewriting as much as can be remembered.. and will be substituting my ‘lost’ pictures taken of the PCT in Washington.. for ones curtesy of ‘www’ (the worldwide web)!

A7830274-0602-4130-A460-F8E241A332C6PCT DAY 153.. September 5th Mile 2557.0 3500 feet 30.2 miles

As I come back to this day.. the day after Milk Creek.. I find I am unable to remember anything of significance that defines this from a myriad of similar days over the past weeks? Still frustrated and saddened at the loss of so much information and the associated pictures since my arrival in Washington.. I have unfortunately let too much time lapse between the actual hike and the writing of this days events!

CD2510F0-FFEE-4B27-B302-68700F26D4809AB1F89A-4E7A-4997-B46C-2A8C0429B71CThe scenery was certainly spectacular but without any means to record such magnificence I temporarily lost the incentive to physically write an account of the day! By evening I had once again camped by a river.. refilled my bottles and ate hastily before retiring for the night with the promise of redemption at Stehekin tomorrow!

DD6DE93C-F408-47A6-8209-88752AB2F391PCT DAY 154.. September 6th Mile 2574.3 2100 feet 17.3 miles

This morning hiked the 12 miles through to the ranger station upriver from Stehekin (a little settlement in the middle of a reserve) and caught the shuttle bus down to the town itself.. initially with the intent of camping and staying the night there.. get some laundry done and clean up in a shower?! In the end however I settled for a small resupply at the one tiny store and decided to catch the next bus back up to the ranger station to continue the hike for a few miles before making camp for the night!

B5344F7A-F5C0-4DB6-9FDA-C409078A581AUnfortunately I stubbed my big toe on a piece of granite that ‘apparently’ happened to be the top of some enormous mountain buried right beneath the trail with only the slightest hint protruding through the middle of the PCT.. presumably to catch unsuspecting hikers like me??!! I’ve managed to miss countless rocks.. stones.. roots and all the debris the trail has thrown at me.. generally only lightly stubbing my toes 4 or 5 times a day.. (something every other hiker does too..) but nothing too serious.. this time however it was eye wateringly painful!! It instantly tore the nail from the top of my big toe (Double ‘OUCH’ and #=>*!) I didn’t even want to stop for an examination as I knew exactly what it would look like.. so continued on down the trail cursing everything the PCT stood for.. before setting up camp for the night.. a few hours later?!!

Once settled.. I peeled back my sock and washed the rather mutilated and particularly bloody area around my big toe! It had throbbed throughout the day.. and was at the same time.. a sharp pain that was with me throughout the afternoon.. but in the end.. is just another foot problem to add to countless others accrued on this awesomely beautiful trail littered with innumerable.. constantly unexpected hidden perils?!

B41275C3-9689-423A-9D0E-FC6E2DCBEE8EPCT DAY 155.. September 7th Mile 2604.1 4400 feet 29.8 miles

Today I felt more like a goat as I traversed the sheer ledges that formed most of the trail for miles at a time as I crossed the mountains.. from one to the next! The tread was almost solely one of rocks and shale.. a particularly treacherous combination whilst ascending and descending!

Late in the afternoon I came across a note left on the trail by ‘Harry’ and ‘Brown’ warning of a possible closure of the trail from a place called Harts Pass through to the Canadian border and ‘Terminus’.. all due to a new forest fire here in Washington?!!! Damn.. not again!! *#!*

BF38932B-D016-418C-B3D4-36E4471951C7I knew this would be bound to stress and fire up the guys behind me!! On my end though I will hike this hike.. hopefully all the way through to the end.. as long as the trail doesn’t close.. without the need to rush and the associated stress involved!!

Camping with two other wonderful section hikers.. Jan and Nancy.. with whom I shared a deliciously cooked dinner prepared by Nancy! Fell into bed around 7pm with the prospect of a big day tomorrow?! With these fires now starting up here in Washington I don’t want to delay my arrival in Canada.. I won’t stress.. but at the same time it really would be a devastating blow if after all these miles.. the Forestry Department was to close the trail and I am unable to finish due to similar fires that closed Oregon?!! This really is turning out to be a ‘nail biting’.. will I.. won’t I finish ‘hike’.. right through to the bitter end when that very last step is taken!!

BE2952ED-A42E-44B1-8CE8-53643C3D6674PCT DAY 156.. September 8th Mile 2630.5 5900 feet 26.4 miles

I woke this morning at 5am after having heard the guys ‘Mike’.. ‘A.M.’ and ‘Gator’ fly by in an attempt to catch the rest of the crowd at.. or near the ‘Terminus’.. the border between the USA and Canada?! ‘Spider Bite’ quickly joined the former three on this rather stressful ‘run’ for the border on the pretense that the ongoing Diamond Creek Fire might yet close the trail.. ordering the evacuation of those still hiking.. and preventing us all from attaining our goal of reaching the ‘Terminus’?! If that is the case.. it would without doubt be a devastating blow.. but so be it?! I packed up and continued on my way.. at my usual pace.. I will not let the stress of the unknown affect my growing mood of excitement!!

ECD70DED-F9FD-43DF-894B-2A7DB7040D0EAs I climbed through the mountain passes.. the mists and fog of the lowering clouds formed droplets of water on my skin.. soon soaking me as surely as if it had rained.. then later.. as I was traversing the subsequent mountains.. the sun appeared and though the wind was still bitterly cold.. the two slowly but surely managed to dry me out.. Around mid day I cruised through Harts Pass.. the last place the Forestry Service would close the trail if fire or smoke had threatened.. and continued on to camp solo on a mountainside slightly protected from the still howling wind and inevitable rain yet to come?!

The border and ‘Terminus’ is now less than 20 miles to the north along a trail well over a hundred times that length winding away to the south behind me! Tomorrow I will have completed a personal dream of crossing this enormous country on foot.. and though I had a trail on which to walk.. resupply options and GPS.. through continuity and immersion.. I am in the tiniest way possible.. able to feel a sense of what it must have been like for the pioneers and early settlers of this then emerging country! They risked the lives of themselves and that of their families.. in a climate of adversity and danger the likes of which we will never fully contemplate.. all for the goal of a better life! In the face of their accomplishments and reaching out towards the myriad goals I have yet to come.. I am truly humbled!

45554D6E-FCC6-4DAC-8701-B9544743B769PCT DAY 157.. September 9th Mile 2658.9 3900 feet 28.4 miles (Manning Park Lodge.. Canada!)

GOOD MORNING WORLD!! Today I have a very exciting announcement.. today is my very LAST day hiking this incredibly awesome.. frustratingly challenging trail called the PCT or Pacific Crest Trail! Today I will reach the ‘Terminus’ (the border between the US of A and Canada) which is officially the end of the PCT.. and from there I will continue on into Canada with my ‘special entry visa’ in hand.. and finish as mentioned at the rather remote but poignantly significant Manning Park Resort!

Let’s hike!!

4A435592-4F1D-4E98-84A0-03B500D8841CThrough the early morning mists that eventually turned to rain.. over the tops of the mountains and down through the forested valleys.. much the same as had been done throughout most of this trip.. but today.. today nothing.. not the rain.. the snow or howling wind could dampen or eclipse the anticipation of my arrival at firstly the ‘Terminus’ and thereafter Manning Park! The excitement amongst those I passed was palpable! We were approaching the end of this breathtaking odyssey that had completely absorbed us throughout the last months.. the best part of half a year.. of our lives!

C99F63B0-B358-4E8A-8754-B46822D6C0C5YAHOO!!!! I did it.. the hike is now over and I find myself 2658 miles or 4277 kilometers from my start point on the Mexican border! 156 days ago on the 6th April I set out and have since battled the rains of Washington.. the snows of the Sierra and the merciless sun of the deserts in Southern California! I’ve endured touches of heat stroke and dehydration.. trench foot and hypothermia.. sprains and strains.. and other minor ailments?! I’ve negotiated snow covered granite peaked mountains.. forested valleys.. lakes of ice.. raging rivers and swampy marshland! In summary I’ve experienced a great deal! A fantastical adventure of epic personal proportions.. and apart from a few microseconds.. I’ve LOVED every moment! 😊

20 thoughts on “NORTHERN WASHINGTON, THE TERMINUS, AND CROSSING THE BORDER INTO CANADA!

  1. A poem that really spoke to the end of my PCT journey. Maybe it will speak to you as well. Congratulations and well done!

    Sparkles

    Finisterre

    by David Whyte

    The road in the end taking the path the sun had taken,

    into the western sea, and the moon rising behind you

    as you stood where ground turned to ocean: no way

    to your future now but the way your shadow could take,

    walking before you across water, going where shadows go,

    no way to make sense of a world that wouldn’t let you pass

    except to call an end to the way you had come,

    to take out each frayed letter you had brought

    and light their illumined corners; and to read

    them as they drifted on the late western light;

    to empty your bags; to sort this and to leave that;

    to promise what you needed to promise all along,

    and to abandon the shoes that brought you here

    right at the water’s edge, not because you had given up

    but because now, you would find a different way to tread,

    and because, through it all, part of you would still walk on,

    no matter how, over the waves.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Chris, indeed, you had lots to tell about the last strech. Congrats (again)! You’ve made it, finished walking the PCT. This hike is belonging to you now, with or without pictures and detailed account of the last few days. It will ‘walk’ with you from now on wherever you go. Be proud of it, and enjoy walking on!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations Chris, what an amazing achievement. Thank you so much for sharing it all with us. Simply awesome, awesome, awesome! With much love and admiration . Jan and Rich xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow Chris, what an achievement, you’ve done it! Cannot put into words the admiration we have for you and your tenacity, well done that man 👏👏👏 such a hard final leg, and one that would have beaten a lesser being, but you’ve persevered through it all, love and hugs from us both J & D xxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations, Chris! It’s humbling to think about all that has happened to you in what feels from the outside like such a short time. Such a huge amount of experience condensed into a few summer months! We’re looking forward to hearing more about your thoughts on hiking the PCT and we look forward as well to your next big adventure. Appalachians next year?

    Best wishes for a long, well-earned rest.

    Paul & Marci

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Holy Moly, you did it. Can’t wait to catch up with you in NZ and hear it straight from the horses mouth…… not that you look like a horse!! Well maybe a skinny horse yet to fatten up a bit! But if you are not too over telling your tale , I have so many questions to ask! What an achievement, dwarves anything my end. Look forward to seeing you soon. Lots of love from Martin and Susan.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rattler… you rock!
    I’m so happy for you. You did it, giving a new meaning to facing Fire and Ice. I wish I’d had the grit to face those fires. Congratulations!
    I’m so thankful my first goodbye wasn’t the last.
    Cyber Hugs of Happiness and Celebration
    Karen (Sazzy) (3Zs)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well done Chris! Your dedication and determination to successfully complete such an immense task is greatly admired.
    CONGRATULATIONS! !!
    We look forwrd to seeing you later this year.
    Marrea and Warren

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you Chris for sharing your 156 days in such graphic detail. Thank heavens you survived Milk Creek and a ripped toenail so near the finish! Fantastic achievement! Now relax a bit, eat like a horse and plan the next expedition! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a Herculean adventure and achievement Rattler 🙂 All that beautiful scenery, great friends met along the way, the narrow escapes (EISH), and pushing yourself to the limit. I look so forward to reliving it with you when I see you. A huge relief that is finally over as I thought in the beginning when you told me you were doing this, that you are MAD!!! And I hope you survive. LOL!!!!!! I think all of us living this with you through your blogs, feel the same as I do. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Chris that was a Herculean achievement – you have done what many of us can only dream of, but rarely achieve. We have loved the vivid descriptions and excellent photography and feel we have lived through it by your side -lucky us. Congratulations and thanks – we can’t wait for you to return home and re-live the adventure again with you. All our love xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Chris, thanks for sharing this absolutely breath taking journey , your words combined with the photos put us right beside you every step of the PCT , but less the a yes and pains.
    It truly was an accomplishment and congratulations and well done to you for noth completing it and letting us take the journey with you .
    Can’t wait for the next edition .
    Get some well earned rest .

    Liked by 1 person

  13. We can only express our awe and admiration for you Chris in this incredible journey. It’s been wonderful sharing with you. What an amazing achievement. Congratulations and hope to see you soon. Much love D&S xx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hey Chris awesome effort and adventure, loved your blogs, the scenery on that final sector is just breathtaking, congratulations on such a mammoth achievement, we are all in awe and so very proud of you , mentally physically, a huge obstacle to overcome, you knocked the bastard off ! Now eat some Kai for heavens sake, look forward to catching up in December , xox John Shirl Teah Chloe

    Liked by 1 person

  15. W0W,Well done Chris,you deserve a medal,badge,plaque,piece of silver ware,dinner for two,travel to a remote resort,all for putting up with what the P.C.T had to throw at you.You’re resilience,true grit determination,stickabilty,”NOT DONE YET”Attitude got you over the finish line,with arms and legs and “mind” attached.Just one more thing to do,CHECK YOUR BAG FOR HIDDEN STOWAWAYS,”RATTLERS”!!!!!!.Congrats Big Brother on your epic journey,your my Hero,Big Brother,cheers Rob.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hey, this is Everett one of the aforementioned American youth. It was a pleasure to meet you, I apologise for not responding sooner I had not seen your post. Congratulations on the end of your journey! The time spent talking with you has inspired me to set off on a trek of my own, I will be walking the PNT next summer.

    Like

    • Hey there a Everett.. Thanks so much for you message and hoping you.. your friends and family are all well?!
      Sorry for taking so long to get back to you but life has been a whirlwind since finishing the PCT!
      I am now back in the States and planning ahead for my upcoming bicycle ride across your great country.. from coast to coast (New York to San Francisco!)
      You guys inspired me.. and I have nothing but admiration for you all.. keep up the good work and fulfill your dreams!
      Keep in touch.. cheers for now.. Christopher

      Like

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