Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Heading East

I've finally got some time to put a bit more time into a post, being in the familiar Holiday Inn in Bozeman, Montana. I've got much to share from the last moments on the PCT to celebrating my 25th birthday in my old backyard, Yellowstone National Park.

It was exactly 5:45 pm pacific standard time on September 16th, 2010 when I completed my walk to Canada from Mexico on the Pacific Crest Trail. A few hours before crossing the border I remember very well, standing atop an unnamed summit, 7126 feet above the sea. I stood there alone with aching ankles and sore shoulders gazing down on the surrounding stunning Washington landscape. Rugged mountains, some with glaciers slowing gauging deep ravines into their bellies, in all directions. The mountains that would usually lay in front of me to the north while standing atop a mountain resembled the next few days' challenges. Not on this day. The mountains north of me that Friday were ones I would not traverse. They towered over land beyond trail's end in the heart of British Columbia, Canada. Stepping off that summit onto the rocky trail is when my emotions began to fly in every direction like the views that surrounded me. I knew it would be my last mountain top on the PCT. I realized I really was, "almost there" this time. Only eight more miles of downhill to the Canadian border.

Before I knew it, I could hear the booming voice of Baby Steps, chatter of Fox Trot and pure joy of Flash Back trickling through the trees from below three switchbacks in the trail. I let out a loud "YEEEEEEEEHAW!!" It was of course returned with more hootin-n-hollern as they waited for me on the United States-Canada border. I made sure to wipe the remaining tears of joy off my smiling cheeks before arriving at the bottom of the hill and in the arms of Baby Steps with a celebrating hug. There are too many, and not enough words to fill in the blank of how I felt to be finished. Pure joy! Proud, relieved, and completed are a few others. A monument, very similar to the one at the Mexican border, where I started 5 months and 3 days prior, stands on the Canadian border in the middle of a long clear cut, that is the international boundary in a thick forest. The only difference, one of the wooden tiers reads: Pacific Crest Trail Northern Terminus. The rain started to fall from the heavens no more than ten minutes after my arrival. So the four of us took the classic pictures of celebrating by the monument, quickly gathered our trash of Snicker bar, Hostess cherry pie, and Slim Jim wrappers and emptied and dried celebratory beer cans into our packs and decided to push on to the real trail's end, eight more miles into Canada's Manning Provincial Park, where we'd get to the closest road into civilization. Flashback, Fox Trot, and Baby Steps are much faster hikers, and I knew this meant I'd get to the lodge in Manning well after them, and all of us would not finish there before the skies turned black and filled with more rain. It didn't matter though, because we would be DONE!


msm said...

Zac, you are truely amazing, and this is beautifully written. I look forward to reading about the next part of your journey!

Cindy said...

Zac, I love this post! Congratulations on finishing the PCT. Take care and good luck on the AT. I love you!!