July 7th, 2018
Mm 2633 to the Canadian Border mm 2652.5 and back to Castle Pass mm 2648.3
Distance: 23.2 m
It rained lightly all night, which is great for sleeping. But it took me a long time to warm up. The rain had really chilled me to the bone and the elevation was just shy of 6,000 feet. My quilt did keep me warm but I also slept with all my layers on.
I woke at 5 am just as it was getting light and was on the trail by 6:15 am. I had 6 miles to go to Rocks Pass…the most challenging section in terms of encountering snow, and 19.5 miles to the border. Might as well get started early. But I would be packing a very wet tent…what’s new?
I was hopeful that it was clearing up but then it started raining again. I walked in fog and light rain most of the morning but could see the clouds lifting here and there. I was cold and walking fast, only stopping for a snack at 10 am. A highlight was seeing a mother grouse and a few chicks scampering across the trail.
I easily made it over the steep north-facing side of Rocks pass but could see why it would be problematic and scary with more snow. I met a few cool SOBOs, Tink and Sam, plus many more whose names I didn’t get. I finally caught up to someone going North and was pleased to make friends, as he had a working water filter. Arrow and I stuck together the rest of the day.
We pitched our tents at the last campsite before the border and then slack-packed the remaining 3.7 miles. At the border, we met some nice peeps, Storyteller and Elizabeth. We all took a bunch of pictures and marveled that the weather was so nice, as it rarely is. The sun had finally come out and it was quite warm.
I wasn’t feeling emotional about being on the border. This was officially the start but didn’t feel that way since I’d already hiked 30 miles to get there. It carried more significance for Arrow, who in 2016 hiked most of the trail but didn’t finish due to injury. This had been the goal he was striving for all that summer…a momentous and celebratory occasion which was now subdued. He was sad that he hadn’t been able to do the whole hike in one season and finish with his friends but here he was, back at it and kicking butt! Which is what counts, really, getting back in the saddle. Now he was going to hike SOBO to the point where he had gotten off the trail two years before. Arrow took this picture of me (illegally) stepping one foot into Canada…hehe.
The hike back to our campsite was a slog uphill but pretty easy since we didn’t have any weight. I was very tired though, dragging my feet. It ended up being a much longer day than planned. But it was great chatting with Arrow, who I was surprised to discover was also friends with Tuomas and Anna, my Finnish friends that I met on the TA. He hiked with them on the PCT in 2016! It’s such a small world this hiking community encompasses, but it never ceases to amaze me.
It was nice getting back to camp with everything already set up. It started getting cold as soon as the sun dropped below the ridge. I wanted to dive into my quilt but also wanted to hang out with Arrow. We also meet Taylor, who had pitched his Hyperlite tarp nearby. He had the whole kit, with a Hyperlite pack and jacket too. We both started on Friday and have been leap-frogging each other since.
Finally I gave in to the cold and settled in for what I could already tell would be a damp and chilly night.