Date: Thursday, 31 August 2017
Start: Camped by Hopkins Lake near Mile 2643.7, 6254 ft
Finish: Officially the US-Canadian border at Mile 2650.1, but then continued to Manning Park Resort in Canada at Mile 2658.9 on the unofficial PCT extension, 3910 ft
Daily Miles: 6.4 PCT, plus 0.1 from lake and 8.8 to Manning Park
Total PCT Miles: 2109.8
Weather: Mild and partly sunny
Accommodation: No bed tonight. Waiting at Manning Park Resort for the Greyhound bus to Vancouver that will arrive at 2:00am tomorrow morning.
Lunch: Salad, cheeseburger & fries, ice-cream.
Dinner: Nachos (way too big), ice-cream
Aches: Toothache bothering me a lot and now on Tylenol. Will try to find a dentist as soon as I get to Bellingham in the US late tomorrow morning.
Highlight: Reaching the Canadian border, the official northern terminus of the PCT, at 8:45am this morning. Had the place to myself and took a few minutes for selfies and to reflect on the journey so far. I feel a little cheated that the High Sierra snow deprived me of the chance to complete a contiguous journey, but know of others prevented from travelling through Oregon because of wildfires that have closed vast tracts for months, so appreciate that I’m lucky enough to at least have the chance to complete the whole trail in one season, even if not contiguously.
Lowlight: The worsening toothache took away some of the enjoyment I was anticipating on reaching Canada and Manning Park. It’s just something that is always there no matter what you are doing, and especially eating!
Pictures: Click here
I woke at 5:15am and was hiking by 6:15am, keen to get to the Canadian border (6.4 miles) and then to Manning Park Resort (15.2 miles), distances that weren’t great relatively, but which I knew would be likely to drag because of the anticipation of finishing this leg. My best guess was that, depending on the trail, I would get to Manning Park around 1:00pm.
The six miles to the border were some of the easiest miles for some time. It was gently downhill, mostly through forest, but with some scrub, on a relatively soft surface. Not much opportunity for views, but it helped me get to the border monument around 8:45am. It was in a nondescript valley, with the border itself seemingly marked by an adjacent survey post and a thin line of cleared brush disappearing up the hill into the distance. I was happy to find I had the place to myself, which seemed appropriate given my solo journey, and savoured reaching this major milestone.
Then it was onwards into Canada and some trail that was quite eroded, overgrown, and in poor repair, in parts for the first four miles, as well as being generally uphill. I wasn’t in a hurry, and took care with my footing, not wanting any accidents on this stretch. After four miles, it passed through a saddle and the trail condition improved significantly before joining a firetrail for a long downhill plod. The last part of the journey was along a nice path through deciduous forest before joining a road for the last mile or so. Then I was there, at the Manning Park Resort, at exactly 1:00pm.
I visited the Lodge’s front desk and was given, at no charge, a key to the Resort’s swimming pool and shower facilities, a chit for a free drink at one of the Resort’s eateries/bar, and details of the coin-op laundry. They also have a large basement room set up for PCT hikers like me, who will be catching the 2:00am bus to Vancouver. (I soon found out from other PCT hikers here that they had been unable to get seats on the full bus, and I was thankful for the nearly two hours I spent on the woeful internet at Stehekin three days ago booking a seat and getting the Ranch to print out my ticket.)
First, I went to the restaurant and bought some lunch, served by a girl brought up in Coober Pedy (a unique and very remote underground opal mining town in the Australian desert), of all places, then showered and did my laundry. Having checked online that my new boots had been delivered to the Post Office in Mammoth Lakes where I will collect them next Tuesday, I consigned my current boots to a waste bin. They may have got me to the end of the hike in the High Sierras, but if not, it would have been a big problem. I’m also hoping that new boots will be good for my battered feet, even if they are the same make and model, but half a size larger, than my existing pair. Nevertheless, I felt a pang of sentimentality as they dropped into the bin.
The rest of the evening has been spent doing some research on transport options if I miss my bus connection in Vancouver (first bus is scheduled to arrive at the same time the second is scheduled to leave) and dentists in Bellingham in the US where I hope to be by late morning.
This will be my last blog post until Tuesday, 5 September, the night before I intend to resume hiking over Kearsarge Pass into the High Sierras.