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Lisa "Pinky" Curry
Begins: Sep 2, 2012
Date: Sat, Oct 13th, 2012
Start: Rock Creek Tributary
End: Manning Park, Canada
Daily Distance: 22
Trip Distance: 499.4
Entry Visits: 915
Journal Visits: 22,156
Guestbook Views: 579
Guestbook Entrys: 20
This was the day...after 236 total days of walking north I was going to reach the ending point of the trail, Canada! As I write this now my eyes moisten with tears, a smile tugs the corners of my lips upwards while at the same time my face twists in a contortion of emotions, a hard lump forms in my throat and my insides flip flop around and I juggle a wave of feelings ranging from elation, longing, relief, nostalgia, desire, awe, and a knowledge of a moment in life lived in total, pure, simple, complete happiness.
However, as I woke on October 13th I was less overwhelmed by these emotions and while I knew this was a monumental day it felt very much like all of the other days on the trail. Ahab, Stix and I chatted from our tents as we packed our gear and pulled on our extra layers and rain coats getting ready to step out into the clouds and drizzle that enveloped our camp. I was a bit hazy from the lack of sleep and flu like symptoms that I was struggling with but I refused to feel bad on this day. I made a full bottle of chocolate instant breakfast and drank the entire thing as I packed up. It was the first significant calories I had been able to consume in almost 24 hrs and I was thrilled that I was able to give my body the energy it desperately needed. I rolled up my wet tent, strapped it to the top of my pack and covered it all with my rain cover. I then joined the guys under Stix's tarp for a morning "meeting" before we hiked out together and moments later had to jump out from under the shelter and run to the edge of our camp before I threw up multiple times and emptied my stomach of all of the precious calories that I had just consumed. I was bummed as I knew the next 12 miles to the border, followed by the 9 additional miles into Manning Park, were going to be tough with no energy, but I was determined to enjoy this day and forced my mindset to take over and drag my body along with me. I brushed my teeth, drank some water and hoisted my pack on my back ready to hike into Canada.
The trail began to climb out of our camp and it became very apparent to all of us that I was not going to be moving at my typical pace. I encouraged Ahab and Stix to press on ahead of me saying that I would meet up with them down the trail but they refused to let me out of their sight. They walked ahead until I couldn't see them anymore and I would turn a corner to find them both waiting for me in the wind and rain with encouraging smiles. I could not tighten my hip belt as the pressure on my stomach was too much to take so all of the weight of my pack rested on my shoulders. My back was aching, my feet were dragging and my neck/shoulders were cramping under the weight. After a few miles I had to stop behind the shelter of a tree and rest for a few minutes. I set my pack down behind me and sat on the ground feeling bummed that my energy and excitement levels were not anywhere near where I expected them to be on this monumental day. As I sat there Stix asked me what he could take from my pack to lessen my burden and I told him, "Nothing, I need to carry my own gear into Canada." The trip leader that he is by nature would not listen to me however and I turned around when I heard my pack rustling and found him stuffing my tent, poles and sleeping bag into his pack. I protested for a few moments and then relented, thanking him. In our typical teasing fashion he responded with, "I'm just making sure you don't try and stop to camp early, you HAVE to make it all the way because I have your gear!" and he trotted off down the trail with a laugh. With a smile I put my lighter pack back on and followed he and Ahab up the path.
We fell into our hiking rhythm, within sight of one another on the trail, but walking alone most of the time lost in our thoughts. I tried to keep my eyes off of my feet and the trail in front of me, and soaked in the surrounding mountains and trees shrouded in mist. A few times I would linger a bit, slowing my pace so I would lose sight of the guys ahead of me and could have a couple a moments where I could feel totally alone on the trail in these woods. During these moments I reflected on the day that I began this trail, by myself without another hiker to be seen, without even the slightest idea of where this journey would take me. I marvelled at how many wonderful, amazing, unexpected moments I had experienced since that day. The people, the places, the incredible beauty that I found in both were beyond what I could have ever expected. These moments, while shared with many whom I now consider family, were really my own individual, private moments that shaped me and my personal journey. As I walked I was overwhelmed by a feeling of gratitude for this experience. Part of me wanted to stop in my tracks, stretch this hike, this lifestyle, these moments on for eternity but I knew it was time to move on, to conclude this trail and to step into the next stages of my life with a new perspective that I had gained from this experience. I smiled at this knowledge and hurried on to catch back up with the guys. I found them waiting for me just up the way and together we hiked on for a bit. Again, as our individual paces set in Stix pulled ahead while Ahab and I trailed behind him.
We had passed the last trail intersection/camp a little while ago and we knew we had only a few miles to go until we reached the end of the trail, but when I rounded a corner and saw the long swath of clear cut in the trees, indicating the border between US and Canada, I came to an immediate stop and my breath caught in my throat. I stood there breathless for a moment, smiled and skipped ahead, ready to touch the monument at the Northern Terminus. As we floated down the final switch backs we could hear voices, hoots and laughter coming from the trees below... a party in the middle of the woods. Just before rounding the last corner we found Stix sitting on the trail waiting for us. We linked arms and together we took our final steps on the PCT.
I couldn't help but slow my steps as the path opened up at the border and I halted completely when I saw the monument and other hikers gathered around. We were greeted with cheers, congratulations and hugs by all. Celebratory shots and wine were passed to us. My emotions were swirling but the party atmosphere kept me distracted from getting too weepy. It was not until I embraced Stix, my hiking partner for the last 1000+, miles that I finally began to cry...but only a little. We then began to celebrate with the others. After a little while the other hikers left while Ahab, Stix and I remained. We ate a bit of lunch (I was able to keep down a cliff bar, yay!), took more photos, signed the register and celebrated together. Eventually the thought of a warm bed for the night and town food enticed us to pack up our gear and push on for nine more miles to reach Manning Park.
Our journey was complete, our destination that had pulled us northward for 2650 miles had been reached. As we took the next steps onto the trail beyond the Canada border it somehow no longer felt like the Pacific Crest Trail, no longer had the familiar feeling of home. That path was behind us now and we walked on a new path, towards new journeys and new life adventures.
I began and ended this hike with PCT register entries that included lyrics from one of my favorite musical artists, Tom Petty, and I feel it is fitting to end my PCT journal with these words as well...
"It's time to move on, time to get going. What lies ahead I have no way of knowing. But under my feet baby, grass is growing. It's time to move, time to get going."
Returning Home To The Trail
The Journey is Everything
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