October 28th, 2018
Mm 18 to The End, mm 0
Distance: 18 miles
0600 – 1200
I was on the trail early to ensure that I finished around mid-day. My friend Jon (same that dropped me off at Harts Pass) was driving all the way from Phoenix, AZ to pick me up. He had made the offer a few weeks ago and I thought it would be pretty cool to be greeted by the same friend that had seen me off at the start, almost 4 months ago.
Stellar and I would also be finishing together. We had been hiking buddies much of the way since just before Tuolumne Meadows, a stretch of nearly 1,000 miles. That is the farthest I have ever hiked with another and it blows my mind to realize it now. Perhaps because we always had such an easy-going and non-reliant relationship, I took for granted how far we had traveled together. He also had the most similar schedule and pace to me of anyone I have met. I tried many times to ditch him (just kidding) but was glad he was there at the end. Thanks for putting up with me all that time Stellar Sparkles.
As we were packing in the dark, MECA and Natty came by. They had stayed at the campground and got an even earlier start. Everyone was excited to finish. Sunrise on the trail was very nice as we headed down and back out of Hauser Canyon.
I picked up the pace with about 10 miles to go. We were finally down to single digits, when only months before, the miles were marked by the thousands. Then all that was left was a 5k race, a distance I knew all too well from running cross country in high school.
About 1.5 miles out, we stopped at the store in Campo to buy festive beverages. I was thirsty, to be sure! We walked just a ways out of town and suddenly it was there, the border wall and the PCT monument up on a hill. It was such a contrast from the Canadian border, which is remote and surrounded by trees and mountains. There is also a welcome sign into Canada, as opposed to a huge wall and barbed wire, with border patrol vehicles roaming the perimeter of Mexico. It’s a sad state of affairs that such a negative situation exists with our friends to the south. It was quite distracting from the positive energy of coming to the end of this epic journey. A bite of the reality of our political and social constraints.
A look back when I was at the Canadian border, July 7th, 2018. There are no walls, just forests and a welcome sign. What a contrast.
I couldn’t help but get emotional as I walked up the hill. I had to stop for a bit and Stellar came back to wait for me. The kindness and camaraderie of all the people on this trail is what stood out to me at that moment. I also thought of all the people that couldn’t make it this far and lamented that their journeys had been cut short.
I was simultaneously proud and ecstatic for being able to walk the entire PCT. For some reason, it felt like a much grander achievement than walking the Te Araroa. It was indeed about 800 miles longer, though it had only taken me a week longer (108 vs 115 days). And I finished healthy and strong. I felt like I could take on the world in this moment.
We found Zappy enjoying some solitude at the monument. But he seemed happy for our added company, given that we had brought festive beverages to share. We broke out the champagne and began to celebrate. I dedicated my first swig to Flowers, who had to get off the trail due to injury. He will make it all the way next year.
Then came all the rounds of photos. I had spent a lot of time dreaming of this moment and planning all my poses. In the end, I just felt like being silly. I wanted to show off how much weight I lost, so I stripped down to my sports bra. My white torso belies the fact that I have been out in the sun for months.
The 3 of us had a nice time just reminiscing about the hike until Stellar and Zappy’s ride arrived. Jon was delayed a bit so I got a ride back to the store with them. Saying goodby was tough. When Jon arrived, we of course had to go back to the monument to get more pictures.
So that’s about it. I spent another few days afterwards enjoying Arizona, eating and unwinding. On a tour around the local area, we drove right past the Arizona Trail. Just like that, I could hear another long trail beckoning, almost like it was my destiny. I also fell in love with the AZ landscape and want to see more. Just look at these awesome pics.
Scorpion hunting with a blacklight…awesome!
Four points mountain…the outline of the AZ license plate
A gila monster!
Solado cliff dwellings
I don’t know for sure which long trail I will do next but there will be more. I’ve uncovered an affinity for long-distance hiking like no other passion I’ve had before. I am happiest and healthiest on a trail and I’m pretty darned good at it. So the saga is to be continued.
I will also later post a PCT summary with all my stats and highlights. In the meantime, I’m taking a vacation from my vacation to visit Spain. Thank you all for following and offering support along the way. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect PCT experience and am glad to have shared it. Cheers!
Absolutely amazing story and trek – so very glad you got through it with no injuries – a testament to your fortitude and mental and physical condition. I can just imagine the emotions. I am also reminded of a story yesterday on the news about a NOBO that almost died, found by a helicopter crew sent out by a good friend. She was doing the trail by herself also and was from I believe Germany. She just barely got out alive, found in snow and ice, wet and apparently with some frostbite. They estimate she had about a day left to live.
I think I met her and to everyone’s recollection, she seemed a bit out of her element. This stuff isn’t for everyone, I guess.
It was fun walking with you Twig. I figured I would not see you again after Kennedy Meadows South, but afterwards we kept crossing paths. I was glad to finish the trail with you as well. I know I am not done with long distance hiking yet (Hayduke / CDT 2020?) so I may see you out there again. And I hope that one day you too will discover your full MLP name ?