Jacob Leistra / "Game Boy" / PCT 2019

Day 118: The Last Night

Mile 2609.9 -> Mile 2641.8

I was awake well before my first alarm of 5:30 AM. The sky was dark blue and the trees above blocked most of my view. Nevertheless I put in my glasses and things became clearer. I counted nearly 10 stars speckled in between the tree branches. I lay awake, almost sleeping, thinking about the day to come. It’s my last full day on the Pacific Crest Trail. Tomorrow by midday I will be in Canada.

With every few blinks of my heavy eyelids the dark blue fades to grey blue, and then to light blue. When my last alarm rings it is 6 AM and time to get moving. It is light enough to see my surroundings, but not light enough to hide the one last star directly above me.

I begin my morning routine just like any other day. I eat two Pop Tarts (this time organic Trader Joe’s copycats) and set aside the food for today. I take a leak, brush my teeth, and then complete packing my things. By 6:30 AM I vacate my home and have all my meaningful possessions on my back. The only missing piece is water, which I will find throughout the day.

It feels weird to write this out so simply, but I want to remember it later. When life returns to normal and I begin to take things for granted again, I want to be able to remember the time when all I cared about was food,vwater, and sleep, and all the physical goods I deemed important we’re strapped to my back. Everything not with me was extra–a luxury. I counted on only what I could carry. I carried only what I could count on.

The morning was beautiful. Everything out here seems to be just what I need to see before I’m done. A little bit of forest, a little bit of a burn area, some exposed ridgelines, and some towering mountains. The morning had a bit of all of this.

I arrived at Hart’s Pass by 11 AM. Hart’s Pass is a trailhead on the last road before Canada, at about 30 miles away. Most thru hikers not going into Canada will turn around and hike back here and try to catch a ride. I walked up to the trailhead to use the privy before getting back on trail. In a truly bittersweet but wonderful occurrence, a group of people were doing some amazing trail magic. Sandwiches, snacks, cold beer, soda, etc. It was put on by Pilgrim and Easy, with help from Tyler. Pilgrim was an older hiker who put in 1000 miles this year before taking time off due to injury. Tyler was a class of a 2018 hiker who drove down from Canada. Their combined forces made for some amazing trail magic on my last full day of hiking on the PCT.

After chowing down for a while and drinking a non-zero number of beers, I got back on trail to meet my goal of the day. The rest of the day was as beautiful as earlier and even more mountainous.

Washington has been a state of firsts. I picked my first huckleberries, I stayed in my first log cabin, I camped on my first mountain peak, and I saw my first mountain goat. Tonight nim camping bat a pass for the first time. Just a couple hundred feet above me is Woody Pass, the second to last pass of Washington and the PCT.

Tomorrow will be a relaxing morning of 11 miles to the border and the monument. I’ll spend some time there soaking it all in before hiking into Canada. I may go all the way to Manning Park, a whole 8 miles, or I may stop before then. I’m going to not plan something for once and just go with the flow.

Main Photo: The earliest view of where I was camping ahead–Woody Pass. September 5.