Trail location: 1954
Cumulative miles hiked 2019/2021: 2620
Cumulative miles hiked 2021: 623
Miles hiked today: 24.9
High/low temp/humidity: 70/52/10
Spinning on the turntable: Yann Tiersen: EUSA
So here we are, you and I, on this last day of my thru-hike. Part of me wants to savor this moment, to split the post today into two or three posts, just to savor this moment for a bit longer. I’ve enjoyed writing and sharing with you, just as much as I’ve enjoyed hiking the PCT. So, even before we dig into the meat of the post today, thank you so very much for following along the past two and a half years. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along as much as we’ve enjoyed sharing with you.
I slept horrible last night. It’s crazy just how poorly I’ve slept on the trail this year. I’ve never been a deep sleeper when I backpack, but this year, ouch. It’s been horrid. This year my hips are bothering me and I wake up from them aching. I’ve tried to do some light/medium stretching at night before I retire to the tent. It helps some, but not a lot. Tylenol or ibuprofen hasn’t done much either. So I’d guess that I was up/awake every hour or so. Tossing and turning, really just waiting for 5:30AM to roll around so that I could start my day. The other hiker I met yesterday told me that he’s getting up between 4:00 and 4:30 every day. No thanks!
Having slept quite poorly, my decision today is how hard do I want to push it? Can I do 26 miles in a day? I think I’ve had a few 17 mile days this year, but I’ve not cracked the 20 mile threshold. We’ll see. It’s hard to predict trail conditions. If it’s a decent trail, I should be able to wrap this up. If it’s a crappy trail, 26 might be a stretch.
I wish that I could say that I bounded up the hill with vigor, enthusiasm and grace. I demonstrated none of these three characteristics, but I still made it to the top of my last (significant) hill climb on the PCT.
I was happy to make it to the top of the mountain, and happier that I’d soon be headed downhill. Enough of this hill climbing business. Time to hustle and make it into town with enough time to spare to snag a hamburger.
The downhill trail was pretty relaxed for the first mile or so, but then sagebrush and other sharp, pokey, jabby bushes started appearing and extending their tendril’ous instruments of torture out onto the trail. Wearing running shorts, I have no leg protection from foliage that wants to scratch the skin off my legs. There was an awful lot of cussing….I tried stepping on the bushes that were in the trail, but I still ended up with scratched legs. Ditto for stepping around the bushes, and ditto for walking off the trail to go around the bushes. In the end, I just forced my way through and expressed my irritation in the most colorful and profane terms.
I met a herd of cows. They were a bit skittish. Guess there’s not too many hikers traveling through this section right now.
I did stop and try to talk with the cows, but learned that they weren’t cows of faith. I offered them a “peace be with you” and they all ran away. Literally, they ALL immediately ran away. Guess I was in the Baptist cow section. About a quarter mile later I tried it again. This time the cows were receptive to my sign of peace and didn’t run away. Whew. I wonder if they sense that I want to eat their brother or sister for my dinner…
I stopped here for lunch and to evaluate continuing on for the day. I’m at the 12 mile mark. If I want to continue I need to bang out another 14 miles. It’s about noon. Two miles per hour will put me into KMS around 7PM…The general store, with burgers, closes at 6PM. I think I’ll try anyway. A burger, and a good nights sleep, sounds divine. Maybe I’ll get lucky on the store closure time!
I was chatting with a 60’ish couple that was heading North. I was a bit concerned at how much water they were loading up. I’m guessing that they had three gallons between them. I told them about the water sources I found that weren’t listed on Guthook in hopes of them dropping a little water. Turned out they were hiking another two miles and calling it a day. It sounded like they hike about 5-7 miles a day. They have two cars and do a relay run every time they come off trail. I’ve met a few other hikers like this as well. It’s a serious dedication to backpacking.
There’s definitely a feeling of the changing of the seasons in the air. It’s warm, but it’s not hot like it was when I started hiking in July. Plants are dying back and flowers are transitioning into shades of fall colors.
I filled up on water at the bridge, but I was on the lookout for a fresh water spring in hopes of getting fresh cold water…yet somehow I managed to miss the spring by .1 of a mile. I was too lazy to turn around and go back and look for it. I’ve found that the signage on the trail is heavily geared towards North bound hikers. Or maybe I just missed the sign. Don’t know, don’t care at this point.
The afternoon trail, the trail itself, down to KMS, just drove me batty. At times on the trail my impression is that the trail itself, the direction of the trail, the locations that the trail “goes to and from” has been designed by a kindergartner with a Crayon. Seriously.
I was looking down into the valley that I was about to descend into and I could see the trail rolling around on one side of the canyon, meandering back to the other side of the canyon, lollygagging back towards the center of the canyon, only to start the process all over again, kind of like this sentence. I swear, an angry kindergartner laid out this section of the trail. Oh a side note, I spoke with another hiker who had come through this exact section and he was just as annoyed as I was. Seriously! I was also aware that I was hiking “down” and feeling peevish, but if I was hiking “up” I’d be downright hostile.
I expected the trek down the final hill would take me about two or three hours, instead it took me about four hours. Bye bye burger and fries!
As I plodded into Kennedy Meadows Campground, I was surprised to see a PCTA log book. I haven’t seen a trail registry in a few hundred miles. The last one I recall seeing was at mile 1325. So it’s been awhile. Anyway, it was fitting to sign our names into the log book one last time.
Exiting the campground I had about another two miles to hike before reaching my trail termination. I wasn’t really sure what I should be thinking about. SO many folks share how life changing the trail has been for them. I tried to think deep thoughts, I really did. It didn’t work.
Since the deep thoughts weren’t coming to me, I instead decided to meditate on you dear reader. For those that have commented on the blog, for those that have followed along with emails, for those that traveled with us in spirit, for those that gave us shelter, I meditated on your peace, your health and your happiness. If I knew your name, I used it. If I didn’t know your name, I tried to throw out good vibes to you anyway.
Any then, almost as soon as it started, it was all over. It was a day, just like any other day, but on this day, I completed my thru-hike of the PCT. According to the PCTA: “You’ve accomplished something extraordinary—the physical and mental determination to walk or ride your horse for months along the lofty spine of the American West. We salute you! And we welcome you to one of the most unique alumni communities in the world—one you’ll be a part of for a lifetime.“
I was thrilled that Noelle had hung onto Marmot/Sloth’s whiskey shot finishers gift to us from 2019. I drank it today as I finished the trail. I freaking love the full circle.
If you were a student of our PCT adventure, you know that I really appreciate when things come full circle. Today, as you read this, is a important day in my own PCT history. Two years ago today I hit the Canadian border. Today, two full years later, you’re reading about the conclusion of my hike. Full circle. Full stop. I can’t help but smile.
Which brings me back to you, dear reader. Thank you for you your support, kindness, comments, .txt messages and open hearts (and homes) the past few years. I had expectations of how I thought folks would react to our adventure. I didn’t, not for a single moment, expect that so many folks that we had never met would be so kind to us. Thank you. You became our tramily and hiked along side us on our journey.
When I’m dead and gone my obit will read:
Husband, Father, Brother
See you on the Trail!