Then I calmed down. I looked around after climbing out of my tent and saw that everyone else was still sleeping. I had plenty of time. The world wasn't going to end because I had slept in a little.
This stretch of trail was high! We climbed up in elevation and pretty much stayed up. On the first day, we hiked gradually upward for 22 miles, down into a saddle between 2 mountains, and then up again for 3 miles. Although the climb wasn't steep, it was so tiring!
I camped the first night with a bunch of other hikers and with a big group of teenagers on a short trip. It was nice to have a fire, but man! Do teenagers talk incessantly! Until around midnight. Good thing I was so tired from hiking so I had no problem sleeping through the pubescent chattering.
So high up in elevation, the mornings were really cold! Hat, gloves, and rain-gear-for-warmth kind of mornings. And then, after it warmed up, t-shirt and shorts kind of afternoons. Followed, once again, by hat, puffy jacket, and warm socks kind of nights. Varying temperatures and beautiful terrain.
We were traveling through remote wilderness with steep and wild mountains. It FELT remote! Strangely, though, it was one of the more crowded stretches of trail. (Much like the 100 Mile Wilderness on the AT, which sounds remote and sort of scary but in reality has tons of people) We passed many large groups of people, south bounders, and group camped every night.
It was also this sense of something ending...like somehow we had to savor every last bit of time on the trail we had. That last week on trail, I felt closer to my fellow hikers since I started. Campfires at night, discussing what our first big meal would be, talking about what shows we would binge watch on Netflix when we got home. And how lucky we all were to be out here in this wonderful place, hiking all day and sleeping under the stars.
My luck with the weather appeared to be holding out; the days were sunny and warm, the nights clear and cold. As we neared the terminus monument, many of my fellow hikers were hurrying along; the NOAA satellite was predicting that our high pressure system was coming to an end and that rain was moving in. I was winging it!
I reached the monument around 4:30. Beans was there with his mom and dad, who had hiked 8 miles in from Manning Park to see him finish and to welcome other hikers, as well. They were handing out shots of Canadian Whiskey to people as they reached the end of the PCT! (I had a half a shot) And after taking the obligatory pics on the monument, I ate my last snickers bar and walked into Canada.
I had originally planned on camping at the campground right past the border. But then, I decided I'd go another 3 miles to the next campground. It was a nice compromise between pushing big miles to get to Manning Park in one day and staying at the border. That way, I could minimize the rain but still have one last night sleeping outside.
My last night was spent with a big group of Canadian hikers who had hiked 5 miles in for a weekend of fun. They were pretty amazed at the PCT hikers! And even though I had only been on the trail 6 weeks, they declared me an honorary thru-hiker and gave me some chocolate and wine as I hung out at their campfire.
Life is so good!