Day 172 & Finish Day

​Day- 172

Date- 10/4/16

Location- Side of mountain

Elevation- 5,951 ft

Distance Traveled Today- 23.6 miles

Distance Traveled Total- 2,630.5 miles

Weather/Temp- foggy, clear, rain, snow, hale, 50s, 40s, 30s

Injuries- none

Pain level- none

Spirits/Morale- excited yet somber

Days without shower- 9

Hunger/craving- grandmother’s cooking

Thoughts/Stories-

Today is the last full day and night of my journey from Mexico to Canada. As I lay in my hammock tonight,  the Canadian border sits 19.6 miles away.  Tomorrow,  the trek to Canada will end, but my hike and journey home will not. Katana and I will hit the border tomorrow, but will not be going any further north.  I do not have the necessary permits for her to enter and leave the country,  so I’m simply going to avoid those logistics and headaches all together.  Instead, we’ll be hiking back south for 31 miles until we hit the last road we crossed. I have no other plans on how to get home from there.  I will take the first ride offered to us, to wherever it’s going,  then figure it out from there.  I don’t think we’re going to fly, bus, or train home; I’ll probably rent a car, or buy a beater. A beater will probably cost as much as a one way rental across the country, but at least I’ll have equity in a beater. I can’t speak for the reliability though; that’ll come down to luck.

Had a funny thing happen late last night.  I sleep with my food in a pocket beneath my hammock, but I’ve never had a single issue with wildlife until last night.  It was maybe 2 am when I was awoken by the hammock moving, as well as the sound of tugging and tearing of fabric.  I happened to have my face laid right up against the pocket that my food was in,  so the noise and movement was literally right against my head.  When I first awoke,  I was a little disoriented. I heard the noises and felt the ruckus, but my first instinct was that it was Katana readjusting somewhere in the hammock.  I reached out in the dark to feel for her, and when my hand found her, she was stock still,  but I could feel her sitting up at alert.  At that moment I instantly realized something was trying to pull my food bag out of my hammock pocket and immediately smashed my hand against the pocket to scare whatever it was.  The creature disappeared before I saw what it was,  but I assume it was a racoon.  It didn’t get my food out,  but it did manage to put two good tears in my thick food bag.  It was more comical than scary.

Our last full day of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was quite possibly one of the most uniquely beautiful days so far, and despite the very cold conditions,  I wouldn’t change a thing.  We – had – it – ALL! Rain, sleet, hale, snow flurries of every size,  clear skies, clouds,  white outs, snow on the ground,  mud,  ice,  rock,  loam, gorgeous views, shrouded non existent views, ridge walks, green tunnels,  EVERYTHING! It was like a snap shot of the entire trail squeezed into one day; minus unbearable heat and lack of water.

Everything about today revolved around the constantly changing weather,  and it was a marvel in and of itself.  It was too impressive to let the cold and wet conditions get you down.  I will say this however, my umbrella was the line in the sand between painful, chilly misery, and an incredibly comfortable day hiking in uncomfortable conditions. I will never hike without a good umbrella ever again.

Katana was a monster in her element today; unstoppable.  This little animal has eaten Washington alive,  kicking and screaming the whole way down. I’ve hardly kept up with her for this entire state.  I can’t wait to come back and hike Oregon with her; I have no desire to do northern California though; too much heat,  too much rock, not enough water. We could do it like we did the desert,  but anything we do together in regards to this trail from now on,  will be fun and pleasant.

Aside from the weather,  the terrain was not hard,  but quite enjoyable.  Extremely open most of the time,  affording spectacular views (fog permitting) of the northern cascades, now peppered with snow and ice.

As I lay in my hammock tonight, knowing the journey concludes tomorrow, I can’t quite describe my feelings.  Excitement, sure; but nothing like the excitement I felt on the night before summitting Katahdin and finishing the AT. I find myself trying to reflect on the journey as a whole; to put it all together in my head before the final steps.  I cannot.  The entire trek is a blur,  and although this hike has not lasted as long as my AT hike,  the passage of time out here has felt dramatically slower; lifetimes. I have seen so many mind numbingly beautiful things, I don’t know how I’ll ever recall them all in their own pristine moments.

While I would consider this hike to be much less eventful than my AT hike in terms of colorful characters, crazy misadventures, and relationships/friendships with my fellow man; this journey held different experiences and lessons that contributed to my personal growth in ways that the AT did not. The AT opened my eyes to a new perspective and approach to life, and the PCT gave me the chance to further apply and expand upon those learnings.

Something I’ve found/observed in myself and others since the AT, is that a great deal of the personal growth and lessons you learn out here do not fully manifest until a short while after the hike.  Once you’ve had time to decompress and look back on everything from the now alien and confusing world of modern society that you’ve rejoined for the time being; everything that happened to you during your “time away,” begins to make more sense.  You become more observant of contrasts between the person you were, and the person you’ve become; as well as the actions and tendencies of those around you. Some things you’re going to love, others, you’re going to despise. As you make more observations within yourself and the modern society you’ve come back to, the more sense your hike is going to make in hindsight as you put the pieces of your new life back together.

I can’t make complete sense of this most current adventure at this precise moment,  or even put it into words that would make sense to you or myself for that matter,  but I will…soon.

I’m very anxious for what emotions tomorrow will have in store for me.

Canadia; Day 173

10/5/16

2650.1 miles

19.6 + 3.6 miles

This entire day passed in a sort of quiet slow motion. The weather held out; there were sunny skies, cloudy skies, and overcast skies,  but no rain or snow until the late evening.

The final 20 miles had its beautiful ups and downs,  but the final 8 miles to the border were all down hill. A very leisurely, gradual descent filled with a handful of blow downs that provided the only obstacles.  Very anticlimactic compared to Katahdin, but anxiety inducing nonetheless as you draw closer.  I can’t describe to you my feelings for the situation other than the words “calm acceptance.” I wish I had more to say about today, but descriptions escape me.

You descend a gentle slope through the pines, dodging blow downs here and there for several miles. You walk over a number of small creeks cascading across the trail, then switch back several short times, turn sharply to the right… and there it is, you see it; the wooden monolith on the border you’ve seen in countless photographs. Your enormous investment of time, energy, and emotion. Just. Paid. Off. Now what?

19 Comments

  1. Congratulations on finishing the PCT journey. I have really enjoyed reading your blog and seeing the pictures. You are coming home to our beautiful panhandle at one of the best times of the year. I hope you and Katana continue to do well. Looking forward to your next adventure.

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  2. Congratulations! I wish I was in WA – I would pick you up and drive you home just to hear amazing stories of your incredible journey. Hugs to Katana, you go girl!

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  3. Kyle, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings on your amazing journey with Katana. As you know, I read your book and loved it and have read your blog from the start. Your pictures, stories, humor, and descriptions have entertained me all along your adventure. You have a special gift and I hope you keep writing and sharing with others. Inspiring and introspective writing such as yours is a rare blessing. I admire your physical and emotional strength and appreciate your honesty. I’m looking forward to future works from you. Hugs to Katana and blessings to you and your girlfriend. Congratulations on finishing the PCT!!!!!

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  4. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing so much in this blog. Your photos have been stunning and inspiring. Katana is precious. I look forward to reading about your next adventure. May you have peace and happiness going forward.

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  5. Woohoo! Yall did it! I’ve been reading along with since the beginning and feel as if a part of me has been hiking along with you. Thank you for sharing. It’s been a great journey to be a part of. I really really want to do what you’re doing one day. Peace. And cheers to you on your next adventure!

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  6. So glad you got to the end and that Katana was there for a final Lion King moment 🙂 Congratulations with your achievement and good luck with your return to civilization. I hope there will be a book on this adventure as well. You left us hanging with several stories along the way 🙂

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  7. What a journey you have let us share! Thank you…..I feel sad because it’s over and happy you and Katana finished together. Please keep us posted on any future hikes….best wishes for you, your girlfriend & of course your precious Katana!

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  8. You finished your second thru-hike on your grandmother’s birthday! Another special day to remember with pride and joy in this latest chapter of your adventurous life. We are all very proud of you! Stay strong and carry on…
    Te Amo.

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  9. Congrats on your amazing accomplishment! It was fun to follow your and Katana’s journey over the last several months. The pictures of Washington are amazing. Makes me want to go back there to explore. I was not a hiker when I lived out there many years before and was too busy working and raising my family to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the state. Hope your transition back to real life is not too difficult for you.

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  10. Kyle, thanks for the great story. I have been following you since mid-California. I was in Stehekin for a week at the end of September and was hoping to meet you, but it wasn’t to be. Looking forward to following your next adventure.

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  11. Congrats on finishing this hike, a very impressive accomplishment. Your blog was a great read and I followed your journey in entirety, eagerly waiting for more posts. I will be purchasing your AT book to begin reading until your next adventure.
    How was your trip back to FL? Will you be blogging about that? Did you see the gentleman that broke the PCT record while you were out there? What are your thoughts on that?

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  12. I wanted to write a bit more. I’ve been following your journey but haven’t commented as I normally would. I had “eye surgery gone bad” in Oct 2015. Actually, it began to spiral downwards in March and has gotten progressively worse. I just started using a dictation app until the “bad surgery” is corrected by a different doc in early Dec.
    You have grown so much as a writer; found your niche. You also use something called cadence which, through the flow of your words, makes the reader feel as if they are experiencing the event with you. Of course I will want CatFox’s autograph on the next book as well!
    I’ve also started tweeting links to the blog and the book. Take care and congrats again to both of you!

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