Day 169: (20.62 miles)
mile 2599.63 – 2620.25
All good things must come to an end, and so it was that we packed up and hit the trail early this morning after a scrumptious breakfast, and one last mocha for the road. Vicky dropped us at the Rainy Pass trail head for what is to be our last leg. In our packs are one 22oz bottle of Schoolhouse beer each. Paul has Ruud Awakening, and I have ESB. While this is “excess” weight, it is negligible compared to the joy it will bring whilst savoring it at the terminus. Today we will walk as far as we can, but a minimum of 20 miles, as there are 68.9 miles left for us to tread till we reach Manning Park and are truly done with this journey. We are anxious to finish. While it has been a trip of a lifetime, it is time to go home, and we are, for lack of a better term…homesick.
There is a reverence about this forest. The wind in the trees plays with our ears as hushed voices seem to surround us at times. In time, we hear actual voices as Sugar and Numbers have caught up with us. Soon Oozle and Thistle catch up as well. We may not be finishing as alone as we thought. We walk and talk. As Sugar is from Vancouver and essentially walking home, Paul quizzes her on where to stay and places we should not miss during our planned stay in Vancouver. She recommends the Sylvia Hotel in English Bay on the West End, Greenville Island and Stanley Park, as well as downtown. She tells us to expect the smell of marijuana all around as people seem to think it is okay to smoke it out in the open even though it is not legal.
As we continue down the trail, I spy a sole leather boot. I stop to take a picture, saying ‘I think I found Cheryl’s boot’. Everyone laughs. Talk turns to the book Wild, and how many times we’ve been asked if we read the book, or been asked, ‘Is that what made you decide to hike the trail?’, or we are told how “courageous” they think Cheryl was and did we have any mishaps like her. Grrrrr. We all would have liked to respond sarcastically, as the book is not about the PCT. Her hiking the PCT is a mere snippet of her life, as she only hiked 1000 miles of the trail and got what she “needed” out of it. As a rule, we all decidedly remained polite and saw it as a way for those asking those kind of questions to relate to what we have been doing for these past months. As we are on similar mileage plans, and while at the last water source before a 1500 ft, 2 mile climb to a campsite, we decide to crowd camp together and continue sharing our trail experiences.
Once we reach camp and set up, we essentially “dine” together and begin to quiz each other as to what our most and least used items were, what will we miss most about the trail, favorite trail food, things and food that we will no longer do or eat. We all agree that the people we’ve met has been the best part about the trail, and how our faith in humanity has been somewhat restored. Peeing whenever and wherever we want will be missed, along with the simplicity of life that the trail requires. Eat. Sleep. Walk. Repeat. What the actual time, day of week and or date as it relates to rotations around the sun have little meaning, unless it involves a resupply in town. Soon, we fear, that will all change. We all look forward to food that does not require rehydration, hot and cold running water, ice, showers, clean clothes and not walking from sun up to sun down, but will miss being able to eat whatever calorie rich food our taste buds see and or desire.
With regard to our least used item, mine was my hairbrush, Paul’s was his removable sun flap for his hat, Sugar said, “thankfully my emergency kit”, Numbers was his full and unused bottle of Advil, Oozle was his compass, and Thistle was her down booties, yet we carried these items to the end…just in case.
PowerBars, ProBars, trail mix, beef or any kind of jerky, flavored water packets and mashed potatoes made the “never eat again” list…at least for a long while. We talk about the trail magic we’ve received and the aches and pains we have endured. We all wonder when the numbness of our toes will go away. Soon we all begin to yawn and disperse to our respective sleeping dens. We all plan on an early departure to make the most of tomorrows available daylight.