Day 141 mile 2,642.1 – 2,653.1 (plus 11 extra miles back to camp since Canada is closed, and 8 for lost InReach)
Elevation: ascent 3,845 ft, descent 3,845 ft
Today was the day we had been looking forward to for 6 months. Today was Terminus Day!!! We both woke up excited to finish off the LAST 11 miles of this adventure. Since we aren’t able to complete the journey how we had planned, entering into Canada, we will be hiking back to this same campsite later today. This meant we were going to be able to slack pack to the northern terminus. Slack packing is when you take minimal items in a pack (ie food, water) or you don’t take a pack at all. We didn’t have to breakdown our tent or sleeping system which made the morning routine pretty simple. I got our celebratory lunch and drinks into my pack, making it feel like it was floating on my back compared to how it usually feels. Then we headed off to finish this journey with Zach G at 6:30.
We still had quite a bit of smoke in the air, but it didn’t dampen our spirits as we hiked off towards Hopkins Lake. The 11 miles to the terminus was great. The trail didn’t have much climbing this morning and the tread was fairly smooth. This allowed us to hike and reflect on this incredible adventure!! I was thinking about that first day and how excited we were to get to the 1 Mile marker, yet here I was now at mile 2,642. I was reliving everyday in my mind as we hiked. The cold yet beautiful desert. The snow travel through Southern California. The joy of finishing the desert section. Entering the Sierra and the pure majesty of those mountains. Castle Crags and Mt Shasta in Northern California and finally hitting that Oregon border. Then Oregon with Crater Lake, Mt Jefferson, 3 Sisters, Goat Rocks ( Knifes Edge), Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier and Mt Hood areas. Then entering Washington and it’s beautiful forests and skylines. The fall colors and Glacier Peak. I also thought about all of the hard climbs the mental hurdles and feeling pretty damn proud of the two of us for getting to this moment in time.
After passing Hopkins Lake, the count down started. Only 6 miles to go!! At one point the trail provided us an escort, as a grouse showed up to guide us down the trail. Just thinking about seeing the monument was causing me to get choked up and having goosebumps all over. Now we were down to 1 mile. It’s incredible that our bodies have gotten us to this point in time!! We had passed Thomas (now a triple crowner) and Couscous on the way down. They had already been to the monument and were heading back. Since we were slightly ahead of Zach G we knew we were going to have the terminus to ourselves. This is exactly how I envisioned the end, Double Down and I ending this trip like we started, all by ourselves!!
Only three switchbacks to go. We could feel it coming!! We both took out our cameras to video this, because we wanted that raw emotion as we got our first glimpse of the monument. As we rounded that last turn, there it was!!!! The chills that went through my body were indescribable. Double Down was overcome with emotion. WE DID IT!!!!
We were able to take about 5 minutes together sharing our joy knowing we had just completed our journey, which started 6 months ago. We heard Zach G coming and made sure to step back allowing him to take in the finish on his terms. We also made sure to get pictures and video of him since he was doing this hike solo. This was also his second thru hike, as he had completed the AT in 2016. Then it was congratulations all around!!
We all then took our turns writing in the final trail log. It was a great way to feel some closure to this journey. It was fun to look through and see the names of all the hikers we had come across over the past 6 months that finished ahead of us. Then it was time for all of the photos with the monument.
Double Down and I then had our celebration brunch. We had packed out a White Claw for her and I had picked up a beer to have at the finish. I had made sure to save one of the cinnamon rolls from Stehekin as well…YUM!! The three of us talked about how proud we were of maintaining our continuous footpath from Mexico. Only about 20% of the hikers who start actually complete this trail and the number that maintain a continuous footpath is even fewer. So we feel like we are in an elite group!!
It was hard staring at Canada knowing that we would have had only 8 miles to go if the border restrictions, because of COVID, had been lifted. Instead we were going to have to gather our things and head back to camp, and eventually 30 miles to our pick up spot. The only cool thing will be seeing the hikers behind us as they near the end. We spent an hour and a half at the terminus before we felt ready to go.
Now, the trail which had been a nice downhill to the terminus turned into an uphill climb back to camp. On the way up I tripped on a rock for the millionth time, but this one came close to making me fall as I lunged forward. I was only saved by using my hiking pole to stop my forward momentum. Little did I know at the time this would come back to haunt me later. We ran into Wooter and Sparkles who were on their way to the terminus. We shared congratulations with them for a few minutes. Then we reached a stream where we needed to get water before the steeper ascent of the trail back to camp. As we packed up to continue on, is when I noticed our Garmin InReach (communication device) wasn’t where it normally was. I quickly asked Double Down if she had grabbed it. Her answer was no. OMG….I knew exactly where it was!! When I had tripped, that forceful lunge must have been enough to dislodge it from the pocket of my pack…NOOOOOO!!!! How were we going to communicate with my dad who is picking us up tomorrow, will family worry if they try to track us or send us messages with no response? All of these thoughts raced through my head. Without really thinking it over, I made a snap decision to go back for it.
So Double Down would take the pack and head back to camp while I would go back 3-4 miles looking for the device. So I filled up a bottle of water and grabbed a Cliff Bar before hurrying back off down the trail. As I descended back down, power hiking and jogging at times, I was planning out how I would find the device. You see I still had the Bluetooth on and I knew the location of the last message that was sent out. So I figured I could locate the device that way.
I got to see Wooter and Sparkles again as they returned from the terminus. I asked if they had seen the device after congratulating them again. The answer was no….BUMMER. After a little bit of searching I was able to connect with the device. Problem was, the brush was so thick I couldn’t see it. So I tried to send a message, knowing it would beep and help me locate it, no luck. It must be deep in the brush with no visibility to the sky. So I continued to scour the area for 45 minutes, without any luck. Now it was 4:00 and I knew a storm was predicted for this evening so I made the decision to call off the search and try and get back to camp before rain started to fall.
I had 10 miles to go and needed to hustle. I somehow convinced my weary legs to jog up hill when the grade wasn’t too steep. I knew I needed to get back quickly so Double Down wouldn’t worry and I needed to try and beat the rain since I didn’t bring my rain jacket with me.
As I neared Hopkins Lake I remembered Wooter and Sparkles were camping there. I made the decision to make a side trip to their camp hoping they had a Garmin I could use to send a few messages. They did and I also found out they had left me a message on trail telling me to find them to use their Garmin (the trail community is so AWESOME). I was able to get a message to my dad about pick up the next day and one to my mom (who I know follows us through the tracking) so she wouldn’t worry about not seeing us moving. Once I did that I still had 6 miles to go and it was a little after 5:00. Time was running out for me as clouds were getting darker.
My pace quickened even as the trail got steeper. The wind was picking up and the temps where dropping. I probably never should have gone back to look for the device in the first place, is what was going through my mind. Little did I know at the time that Double Down had spent 30 minutes collecting water for dinner, cleaning up camp and organizing our stuff, also realizing that I probably shouldn’t have gone back either.
I somehow got back to camp at 6:15, exhausted. Having now logged 30 miles and depleting the emotional high I had from the morning. I quickly got cleaned up and right as I did the rain started to fall. Thank you Mother Nature for holding out until I got to camp!!
We gathered all of our stuff and got into our tent with our last trail dinner (beans and chicken) with the rain becoming harder. The storm only intensified over the next few hours unleashing heavy rain and ridiculous thunder and lightning right over head. We knew we were leaving the wilderness tomorrow and I guess this is how the trail wanted to say goodbye. We didn’t bother cleaning our pot and couldn’t even find a break to get out to brush teeth or use the bathroom. Exhausted from the day we both lied down hoping for some calmer weather to hike out in tomorrow.
I can’t thank you all enough for following along with us on this journey which started 6 months ago!! We will continue to post over the next week as we transition from trail life back into normal living. Please let us know if you have any questions about this adventure, as we will be happy to answer those in upcoming posts.
Once again, thanks for following along as we finished this crazy and amazing dream of ours!! Link (and Double Down)