Jacob Leistra / "Game Boy" / PCT 2019

Day 117: Rainy, Cutthroat, Granite, and Methow Passes

Mile 2577.5 -> Mile 2609.9

I’m in the last stretch. After a decent enough night’s sleep (I mean, how decent can it be when there’s mice running over you and there was the possibility of rain but you cowboyed anyway), I got on the trail by 6:30 AM fully intent on making my way 32 miles north without much ado. I succeeded, and had a fantastic day. And I only cried once, but it was for a good reason.

The majority of the day was climbing up from Stehekin. I’m glad I did the 4.9 miles yesterday to the Bridge Creek Campground, because if I hadn’t then I would be climbing for 20+ miles generally non-stop. Instead I climbed for about 17 miles of mostly gentle grades up winding mountainsides. For the majority of it, it was a green tunnel with little to see.

Around noon I passed North Cascades Highway at Rainy Pass and walked into a dirt road trailhead. The trail continued justt past the trailhead but I didn’t make it that far. Germanator, a class of 2018 hiker, and his mom Maggie were setup doing trail magic. And it was amazing! I saw Trademark and a few other unfamiliar hikers there totally kicked back and enjoying the spread. There was pastries, trail mix, fresh fruit, candy, chips… you name it. For drinks there was cold water, soda, Rainier beer (it really is a thing up here, I’m getting it now), and Starbucks bottled Frappucinos. Of course I instantly gravitated toward the coffee. I had two–but with a beer in between for good measure. You know, balance my intake of substances. I pigged out on snacks and a muffin and chatted with everyone for almost an hour. I also got the opportunity to charge my phone all the way up, which gave me the peace of mind to be able to listen to music for a few hours. I was worried my phone and battery bank wouldn’t last until Canada, but now I’m sure I can squeeze it out.

The whole show of generosity was (more than) what I needed before finishing the last 3 miles of the climb, the steepest part yet. Germanator and Maggie were truly amazing and made me feel a bit sad this is all coming to an end.

On my way up the last bit of the climb I chatted with some locals. They were happy I was enjoying Washington so much, and one even repeated a phrase I had heard a few times now: “The next section is even better.” Well, I was about 60 miles from the border at this point, so there wasn’t much section left.

She wasn’t wrong. After getting up to Cutthroat Pass I was treated to some amazing views. After winding my way around the ridgeline I was faced with an opposite mountain and the notch that was Methow Pass. I started ugly crying for a solid minute when I saw the trail wind its way to the pass. It was so indicative of the whole trail: a footpath taking you to beautiful scenery. It’s not everyday you get to see the trail off in the distance like that, and with just a day and a half left, I was pretty sad with the thought of leaving the trail.

I made my way through the pass and downhill a long way to Brush Creek where I’m camped for the night. I’ll do another 32 miles tomorrow and then I’ll be just a hair over 10 miles from the border on Friday.

I almost can’t believe it. I’m oscillating between not wanting it to end and wanting to rest my aching body. I can’t have both, not on my terms at least. So I suppose I should finish up and complete my journey. The familiar saying is true: All good things must come to an end. Especially amazing things.

Main Photo: The trail working its way up to Methow Pass on September 4.