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 before.
As I was 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. I was fnally 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, I stopped at the store in Campo to buy festive beverages. I was thirsty, to be sure! I 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 was remote and surrounded by trees and mountains. There was 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. 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 more (108 vs 115 days). And I finished healthy and strong. I felt like I could take on the world in this moment.
I found Zappy enjoying some solitude at the monument. But he seemed happy for my added company, given that I 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.
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 stripped down to my sports bra. My white torso hid the fact that I had been out in the sun for months.
I had a nice time just reminiscing about the hike for awhile. Jon was delayed a bit so I got a ride back to the store. 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 me, 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 didn’t know for sure which long trail I would do next but there would be more. I uncovered an affinity for long-distance hiking like no other passion I’d had before. I was happiest and healthiest on a trail and I was pretty darned good at it. So the saga was to be continued.
A PCT summary with all my stats and highlights followed. In the meantime, I took 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 was glad to have shared it. Cheers!