PCT: Day 172: End of the line

PCT Washington

Miles today: 14.6
Trail miles sum: 1970.8
Trail location: 2653.1
Elevation: 4247
Spinning on the turntable: Yann Tiersen: EUSA

Guthook Screenshot
Weather Report

Looking at the weather forecast this morning and seeing snow isn’t so surprising. It’s been cold and damp the past few days and felt like snow. Looks like I’ll miss it by roughly twenty four hours.

PCT Washington
Taped up feet

Two weeks of hiking, on and off, with wet feet, hasn’t been kind to my feet. I started developing blisters on the top of my feet so I patched them up with Leuko tape. I have several more toenails that are ready to exit stage left.

I opted to start the day with the same music that I began the trail with on day one. I wanted to close the loop, so to speak.

PCT Washington

Snow clouds on the horizon

As I hiked I tried to think deep thoughts. To dig really deep to find something profound. I failed. I just came up empty.

PCT Washington

So cold

The clouds obscure most of the mountains so I’m left with my music for entertainment. What I really want at this moment is to be done with Washington. I’ve hiked in and around the rain for two weeks. It’s enough. If I had initially started hiking the trail and the conditions were like this, I would have quit. It’s not very much fun.

I’m seeing SOBO’s that just left the border and are trying to make it through both WA and OR by the end of October. Ouch. Wet.

I’m also seeing thru-hikers that touched the border monument and are returning to Hart’s pass to hitch out. (No Canadian entry permit.)

PCT Washington

Alpine lake

I was looking at this lake when another hiker asked me if they should hike to the border or turn back and return to Hart’s pass due to forecasted snow. I tried to help them logic their way through the decision making process, but they wanted me to make the decision for them. I would not make their decision. They opted to turn back, just 5.9 miles short of the border.

PCT Washington

PCT Northern Monument

This is the northern PCT terminus. If you follow the tree line down the middle you can view the separation between the US and Canada.

I knew what the border monuments looked like, but I was expecting it to be a larger open area in the woods. It was actually pretty dang small.

Noelle had hiked in from Canada to meet me. It was a very nice way to wrap this section up. We took the obligatory border pictures and headed up the trail into Canada.

PCT sign post

Welcome to Canada

We hiked 8 miles out from the monuments to reach the trail head.

PCT Washington

Noelle on the trail

I was very happy to reach the trail head. The trail head equated to the ability to stop hiking! I gave Noelle a big hug and a kiss. Together we started hiking this trail at the Mexico/California border and together we hiked on this trail at the Washington/Canada border.

Within a half hour of our reaching the trail head it was pouring. I am grateful that I’m no longer in the rain.

Time to dry out and figure out what comes next.


  1. Ashley

    Started and finished together!!! Amazing!!! You both are incredible.

  2. Paul Bennett

    Congratulations. I have been following your adventure all year. Excellent updates. I will hit the PCT in early 2021. Love to hear about any reflections, packing list or lessons learned. I am also a mature hiker and I live in the Seattle area. My wife loves the idea of following me in a van. Thank you both for you entries this year

  3. Anonymous

    Steve and Noelle, CONGRATULATIONS ON THE ACHIEVEMENT! What a wonderful journey you have completed. Mom and moi are so proud of both of you. You will have many years to share and enjoy. the memories. Love, Mom n Dad

  4. Steve McKaig

    You can’t just stop like that. I’m unable to go cold turkey. Your blog was better than any morning coffee. Congratulations to both of you!

  5. Briget

    I’ll miss you, Steve and Noelle! I have to Couch Hike these days, and every summer I choose a few PCT thru-hiking blogs to follow. I enjoyed yours so much, not least because we are (fairly) close in age. I loved the notation each time about what music you were listening to, and I particularly loved how you and Noelle made it work when her physical issues kept her from doing as much hiking as Steve.

    Best of luck in your next ventures, and – final thought – I’d be willing to bet that the Deep Thoughts will come through over the winter. Nothing like hindsight to help you see what you missed when your face was pressed up against the day to day –

  6. A Foulon

    Loved your honest facts and feelings along the trail, great blog!

  7. Mark Appleget

    Thanks for the summer of inspiration. The hike was quite an accomplishment and one that I expect I will never do. The to of you will have memories forever to share. Hopefully someday we can meet up over a case of beer, and you can fill me in on all the of the stories that never made it into the blog. I bet there are more than a few. Mark

  8. Marilyn

    Thank you for sharing your inspiration, pictures/videos, and love for each other. Congratulations to you both on a magnificent accomplishment! Clive/Marilyn

  9. matt Denham

    Congratulations Steve and Noelle. What an amazing accomplishment. I was thinking about the daily miles you are hiking and can scarcely imagine it. But you have done it.

    Sorry about the miserable September. The weather is one of those things we can’t change, but must simply endure. Glad you will now be able to dry out.

    Hope to have a chance to talk to you when you are back in the area.

    Take care,

  10. Anonymous

    I will miss reading your daily log. It was such an adventure. You should be proud of yourself
    Have you considered doing a presentation on y’all’s journey at the next ICM? I’m on the commitee. It’s gonna be in the wonderful town of San Antonio. Warm weather , almost no Rain!! Looking for new and fun breakout sessions. We would love to hear how this adventure has brought you closer together as a couple.

  11. Chris Leedle

    Steve and Noelle, Congratulations to you both. What an adventure to follow, I will also miss these daily posts. Steve, I have known you for more years than I care to admit. You have shown again your drive and commitment to finish whatever you start. Noelle, I have never met you, buy you also displayed your drive and commitment to follow through on this adventure. You both make quite a team; driven, flexible, thoughtful and very much together. All your posts were inspiring, humorous and very fun to read. Telling the real story and not leaving anything out gave everyone the idea of what this trek took out of and gave to both of you. At least the toenails will grow back. :-)

    I hope all your future life’s adventures give you both as much joy as this summers long walk. If you decide to take on the Sierra Mountains I will be following right along with you.

  12. Marian Duff

    Hello Steve and Noelle, I believe the deepest thoughts and emotions will gradually come to the surface as you head into your next phase of life…. “All the flowers of all the tomorrows, are in the seeds of today” ……….every good wish to both of you. and CONGRATULATIONS…..Marian and Pat – Retrouvaille Ireland

  13. VFat

    Achievement unlocked! And a smiling face to meet you on the trail too!

  14. wickmanslostinamerica

    Like you, I have no deep words of wisdom to share except to say your journey has been an inspiration and entertaining to follow. I’m not sure what you will decide about finishing the last 600+ miles through the Sierras, but regardless you have undertaken an incredible feat and you have to feel a great deal of satisfaction and accomplishment. Especially in light of your health journey over the last few years ( way to bury the lead!). Selfishly I hope you continue because the Sierras are my “church” and I’d love to experience them from your viewpoint. But if this is the end of the trail for now I understand. Either way, thank you so much for your candor (although I don’t miss the poop updates!) and humor and allowing us to share this journey with you!

  15. Anonymous

    Congratulations ❤️ God bless both of you. I’ll miss your postings. Enjoy warm meals, warm showers, comfy beds and all other amenities we often take too much for granted. You two are such awesome folks. I look forward to hearing about the next chapter in your journey in life. But for now, May you savor life together in this present moment.

    Liz from RetroFresno


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