Washington L

August 2, Tues.–17.5 miles–Manning Park, Canada

Tues. August 2    Miles today: 17.5          Total so far: 1,491        Manning Park, Canada

Brrr!  It was 31 degrees this morning, with frost thick on the meadow where we were camped, and our tarp was totally covered with ice.  I did NOT want to get out of the warm sleeping bag, but Canada was calling!  Our platypus drinking tubes were frozen, my shoes were frozen, and the camera refused to work.  I just stuck my feet into the stiff, cold shoes, figured the “platy tube” would thaw eventually (it did), and put the camera inside my shirt next to my skin,  hoping that would thaw it out.  (It did, too!)  We packed up quickly (shiver, shiver) and Bill stuffed the stiff, frozen tarp into the big net pocket on the outside of his pack.

The early morning light was beautiful on all the frost, and the trail was pretty much downhill into Castle Creek Valley, but the air stayed cold for a long time.  At 9:00 am, I was still wearing my fleece jacket, hat and gloves, and the plants bordering the trail were still silver with frost.  What a switch from just two days ago!  I guess that Washington was trying to give us a tast of ALL of its weather!

Around 9:30ish, things finally began to warm up, but that meant the FROSTY plants along the trail were now the WET plants, which meant we were soon very wet, too, as we pushed past them!  The mountains around us were not as “dramatic” as others we’ve seen here in Washington, but they were still interesting.  When we stopped for our midmorning break, Bill pulled out the tarp and shook all the ice off it onto the ground–looked like snow! 

A little while later, we finally reached the USA/Canada border!  Talk about two excited hikers!  Bill carefully took the top off the monument so we could sign the register in the base.  It was fun to read other people’s notes!  Cat’s Pa had written something like, “Hey, I made it!  Where’s the brass band?”  There was also a very kind note from a couple of Manning Park trail angels, offering hikers a place to stay.

Since nobody was around to take our picture, we balanced the camera on a rock, set the delay function, and got a couple of shots of us at the monument.  What’s interesting about THIS border as opposed to the Mexican border is that there is no fence.  The “line” is marked simply by a narrow clearcut running straight east and straight west.  AND, there is a great big “Welcome to Canada!” sign.  Yahoo!

The PCT began its journey into Canada with a nice wide, comfortable trail into the woods, and a little while later a plank bridge across Castle Creek. But I was puzzled to see how many trees looked dead.  They were all reddish brown–sometimes whole hillsides of them.  I wasn’t sure if they were actually dead, or if they were some sort of deciduous conifer.  In any case, I would hate to see a fire get loose here.

Then the trail got moody.  Instead of wide and comfortable, it turned into a long, hot, rocky, overgrown path up to Windy Joe mountain.  I had to resort to my “just hike to the next tree” mode to help myself keep going in the heat.  (Seems amazing that just a few hours ago, we were freezing!)  Finally we reached a very nice, large backpacker camp, and shortly after that, the top, where the PCT joins the Windy Joe Trail, a closed gravel road.  Now it was DOWNhill for several miles, then follow a creek for a mile or so.  We stopped for a rest and Snickers by the creek in the hot afternoon.  And then at last, the very, absolute END of the PCT at a road.  There is no special sign, no special monument–just the end of the trail.  We hugged each other, cheered, thanked God for all His help, then headed for Manning Park. 

Along the way, we passed a very nice horse stable with a tepee out front.  Looked like a fun place!  Then at last it was Manning Park, with lots of people, cars, green lawns, and the Canadian flag flying to let us know, “Yes, you really are here!”  We two sweaty, dirty PCT hikers strolled up to Manning Park Lodge, where I doffed my pack and went in to ask about the bus to Abbotsford.  Turned out there was one headed west in only an hour!  Talk about timing!   We had just enough time to clean up a bit, put on our “town shirts”, get ice cream, and then head for….California!  (That’s how we were thinking of it, anyway!)   

Soon we were back in front of the Lodge, waiting for the bus (it was late) and being entertained by people-watching (many different countries) and the antics of a score of prairie dogs.  Those little furry rascals were running everywhere and popping out of their holes in the Lodge’s nice green lawn!  Finally the bus came–ahh, soft seats and a chance to just SIT and watch the scenery go by.  The bus stopped at the town of Hope, where we paid for our ride, then it was on into the wide, beautiful Fraser River Valley.  Wow!  Lots of very neat, prosperous family farms, surrounded by rugged Cascade Mountains.  It was truly beautiful.  And the city of Abbotsford turned out to be a great place! The bus station was only a couple of blocks from the road to the USA border.  We walked to the nearby Super 8 motel, booked a room, took showers, and then went looking for FOOD! It was after 9:00 pm now, so most of the restaurants were closed.  Of the few we found open, all of them featured “low fat, low calorie cuisine”, which was NOT what we were looking for!  Finally we spotted a Burger King and ate as much as we could hold (which is getting to be a lot, even though we are both much thinner than we were at Campo!).  Back at the Super 8, I can literally say that the moment I laid my head on the pillow, I was “out like a light”.   What a relief to have “made it” and what a joy to be going back to finish up the California PCT! 

August 1, Mon.–26.7 miles–Washington L

Mon. Aug. 1      Miles today: 26.1        Total so far: 1,473.5             Washington Section L

There were lots of clouds this morning, which made for a beautiful sunrise, and I had a bit of fun taking pictures of it!  But the lovely clouds also boded rain, so we made sure to pack our rainjackets where we could easily grab them!

The first project of the day was “get water!”  We didn’t even have enough for breakfast!  So we contoured on the PCT around Tatie Peak, with scary dropoffs at times, but a great view, then through a gap and down a side trail to Meadow Campground, where there were supposed to be a couple of creeks, and there were–but barely running.  It was hard to collect water from such tiny trickles.  Once we had enough water, we ate breakfast, and quickly–it was cloudy, windy and chilly.  What a switch from yesterday!

For the last several days, Bill has been having real problems with one foot.  As far as we could tell, it was from the roughness of the trail, and/or maybe the hot weather. It was swollen and sore.  But today it was a lot better, so Bill retied his shoes a bit tighter before we left the campground.

Back to the PCT we went and on to Harts Pass, stopping to sign the trail register at the little ranger station.  All the Nobo’s like us had signed with some variation on “Canada, here I come!”  Next came a very long but fairly level mountainside contour–it was really nice to have less up ‘n down!  Then came a whole succession of passes–Buffalo Pass, wide Windy Pass, around Tamarack Peak, then to Foggy Pass and Jim Pass.  We met a couple out backpacking with two sweet Labrador dogs, and leapfrogged with them through much of the day.  At Shaw Creek, one dog ws lyng IN the creek, soaking its paws!

Meanwhile, the sky grew cloudier and darker, and looked more and more like rain.  As I was cooking dinner at noontime, it actually did rain for a little while.  No problem–that’s what umbrellas are for!  After dinner came a long downhill (with views) to Holman Pass, followed by a long uphill (with flowers!) to Woody Pass.  When we stopped to rest at a big trail camp along the way, some horse packers went by.  From there we climbed steadily higher and higher, till suddenly the trail switchbacked down into a valley.  The former PCT route in this section contoured over to the pass, but to do that it had to go across almost entirely talus/scree steep slopes, and was very hard to maintain plus dangerous in early season.  But the “new” trail is VERY rocky, so rocky that Bill’s foot began to hurt so badly that he could barely walk.  Taking a supper break and lots of Motrin did not help much, and he was still hobbling when we tried to go on.

Things did not look good.  So close to Canada, and now this!  But we came to a small creek, where Bill soaked his foot and cut up the empty cardboard box from our supper crackers to make himself more arch support and foot protection inside his shoe.  He decided that he could make it to the top of the pass.  Then at the top, he felt he could go on, so we ended up doing two more miles and camped in a flat meadow area  way below the trail, with a gorgeous sunset view.  Finding that campsite was a bit of an answer to prayer–there were nothing but steep mountainsides everywhere.  It ws very windy and cold, but the clouds were clearing.