As we climbed to the crest, we met Just John, returning to Harts Pass after reaching the border yesterday. Although most hikers finish at Manning Park in British Columbia, Canada, some choose to hike back to Harts Pass for logistical reasons, or because they do not have a passport or the necessary papers to enter Canada via the PCT.
From the crest we descended briefly to avoid a steep scree slope before climbing again to Woody Pass. From there we traversed a rocky hillside, climbing slightly to reach Lakeview Ridge (7,126 ft), our high point of the day. Looking ahead at the mountains to the north, we wondered which of them were in Canada.
With mixed feelings -- both excited and sad that this incredible journey is coming to an end -- we began our descent to the border. With less than a mile left to go, I spotted a familiar figure down the trail. "Daddy!" Sierra screamed. We had not seen him since we left Ashland on August 11, six weeks ago.
Together, the three of us continued to the border. Jeff and I were deep in conversation when I heard a shriek up ahead. Sierra had discovered Monument 78 (4,240 ft), the PCT monument that marks the border between the United States and Canada!
But the trail doesn't end at the border. So, after a short celebration we continued down the trail to Manning Park, British Columbia, Canada.
We reached the trailhead parking lot with mixed emotions. We were excited that we had accomplished what we set out to do: we hiked the entire official PCT with no flips, no skips, no shortcuts or alternate routes, leaving a continuous, unbroken line of footprints from Mexico to Canada. And in meeting that personal goal, Sierra set a new record for the youngest PCT thru-hiker, becoming the youngest person on record to have completed a continuous thru-hike of the PCT. But our excitement at these accomplishments was tempered by other feelings: we were sad that the adventure was coming to an end.
Many hikers talk about how difficult it can be to transition from the trail. We feel thankful we were able to finish a little earlier than planned so we will have some time to ease the transition, taking time to explore alternate routes not taken (we want to see Eagle Creek and Tunnel Falls) and to get caught up on schoolwork.