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J. "Zippy" Reilly
Begins: Apr 18, 2014
Date: Mon, Aug 25th, 2014
End: Missoula, MT
Trip Distance: 31.0
Entry Visits: 3,791
Journal Visits: 28,690
Guestbook Views: 4,112
Guestbook Entrys: 40
Pacific Crest Trail Map
It's been about a week since Ann and I reached Monument 78, the northern end of the PCT. According to the International Boundary Commission, Monument 78 was the 78th boundary monument east of the Pacific Coast along the 49th parallel. The top of the monument lifts off, and inside is a collection of random knickknacks, not unlike a geocache, as well as a logbook. Inside the book, hikers write their goodbyes, thank yous, and next intentions, like hiking back to Mexico or other destinations. The monument was awkward and heavy to lift open, reminding me that my upper body has been neglected for 4 months. (That will soon change, as I am returning to my job as a carpenter.)
(Click image for full size)
at the end, in the slash
The most surprising thing about the US/Canada border was "the Slash." The Slash is a narrow clear-cut about 20 feet wide that runs across approximately 1400 miles of the northern border. It's strange. Certainly it is difficult to maintain, as the Slash climbs high up the steep and rugged Northern Cascades, a tiny v-shaped notch in the ridge when seen from far below. I would imagine that it would be even more difficult to maintain where it crosses the Rockies. An article I found in a Vermont publication called Seven Days says that it is there so the average person knows when they are on the border. Check out the article if you are interested in learning about the upkeep and history of the Slash: http://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/why-is-there-a-slash-in-the-trees-at-the-us-canada-border/Content?oid=2266575
Enough about the border, how was the trip? All in all, almost perfect. I found the hike to be extremely comfortable. The weather was nearly perfect, the views were gorgeous and the ascents and descents gradual. I was surprised at how quickly the miles ticked by each day. The trail is incredibly well maintained, allowing a lot of time to look around and enjoy the views as you travel, instead of watching your feet. There were plenty of great views. End to end, the PCT does not disappoint. If I am ever asked which leg of the Triple Crown should be tackled first, I will suggest the PCT. I believe that the chances of success and enjoyment are highest on this trail. Of course I have not thru-hiked the CDT yet so this may be a question to revisit later, but I expect my answer will remain the same.
Right now I sit in a laundromat in Missoula, Montana. I am washing my sleeping bag - a task I neglected for the entire hike. Using a bivy and sleep clothes kept my bag surprisingly clean. This is a time-consuming task - it takes hours to dry the down filling.
What is next? Ann and I spent last winter in Asheville, NC. We enjoyed a lot of what the town offered but didn't feel at home. We have decided to return to Missoula to live. We feel at home here. For the most part we are able to pick up where we left off when we left (in early 2013, to thru-hike the AT). Missoula is an incredible home base for outdoors enthusiasts. I am happy to be here and excited to see what is ahead. I am looking forward to winter sports. I hope to put the ice axe to use since the Sierras didn't give me much opportunity this year. It is good to be back.
Finally, I owe many thanks...
I want to thank everyone who has read my entries over the past four months, especially those who wrote notes of encouragement. I often thought of you all when I was on the trail.
To all the hikers I met along the way: You make this trail amazing. So many people hiking for so many reasons. It's been nice to travel with you all.
Also, thank you to the trail angels that I met in towns and on the trail. Many of these people didn't even know they were being angels - they were just being good neighbors. It is nice to be reminded that the majority of people are good.
Of course I am endlessly grateful to Ann for being the best support person a hiker could hope for, on or off trail. She was always right on with the food and supply drops. She is amazingly supportive of all the endeavours I get into. Hopefully there will be a chance for me to return the favor someday. It is great to be reunited.
I feel lucky to have a family that is so supportive of my rambling. I am grateful to all of you for the love and encouragement.
Most of all I would like to thank my mother for being so cool. I know it can't be easy to watch your son disappear into the wilderness. You are the best.