Ballard and Walker: PCT Thru-Hikers
September 17, 2000Day 133Mile 2655Manning Park, CanadaAngela's Diary: As we came around that last switchback Duffy started whooping, running, and twirling his Leki's like a drum major's baton.
"Canada! Canada!" he yelled, jumping up and down, racing towards the monument, then running back to pick me up, pack and all, for a big black bear hug.
Monument 78, a 4-foot pillar of gleaming silver, perhaps steel, marks the border between Washington and British Columbia on the PCT. On either side, a swath of forest about 15 feet wide has been cleared, indicating the international line. How different from the iron and barbed-wire barricade at the trail's southern terminus on the US-Mexican border.
Surrounded by evergreens and mountain larch beginning to turn gold, we used nearly a whole roll of film commemorating this, a moment I didn't really believe would ever arrive. There were no border patrol to check our permitsthank goodness, because they're in our last resupply box, which we never received. There were no cheering crowds, no beers to crack open, not even a rock, let alone a bench, to sit on. Just us and Monument 78. But for the last four-and-a-half months, during the toughest and most memorable moments, "us" has always been enough.
It was about 4 p.m. when we arrived at Monument 78. While we lingered for nearly an hour, Lady Godiva and her horse Livingston arrived, quickly followed by Feather Dave (or Wingnut depending upon when and where on the trail one has met him) running across the border with his feather-light pack. He'd just completed 40 trail miles in 10 hours but looked fresh and elated. Of course, since he's another Haverford grad (class of '89), you can expect such eccentricities. For a small college, Haverford does seem to churn out more than its fair share of crazy folks. Anyway, as we three bipeds exchanged congratulations, stories, and Kodak moments, Livingston took a well-deserved nap.
Although I've complained about horse manure and other stock-associated messes on the trail, Lady Godiva and Livingston easily softened my heart on the subject. But since the Lady intends to write a book, I'll leave the real storytelling to her. Let me just say that the times when I scrambled over and under logs, balanced on moss-covered rocks amid frigid, rushing creeks, tried desperately to avoid crashing through ice-crusted snow, and had my legs skid out on scree were infinitely more difficult for Livingston, all 1200 pounds of him.
As a final gesture, Duffy stuffed his Nerf football (carried all the way from Mexico, tossed on Mount Whitney and in sundry other wild locales, nearly lost in a river, and most frequently used as a pillow) in the monument. You'll have to heave the top off ol' 78 to find it.
Then we took a few minutes to read aloud some of the thoughts fellow PCTers had recently recorded in the trail's final register:
"August 16 - That is one hell of a groove in the ground from Mexico to Canada. I am glad I took time and put forth the effort to reap the reward. Live long and prosper. - Silver
August 17 - Dog got into porcupine. Had to shoot it and bury it at international line. Finally made it to Canada.
August 19 - The PCT reminds me that it is important to stop just being a human being, and become a human doing.
August 21 - Journey Film Crew rolling through. Mexico to Canada 2000. It was worth it. - J.B.
My toes frickin hurt and my shoes are full of frickin holes. - Kimmo (Finland)
September 2 - Protect the wilderness we have left, there are many generations yet to come. - Jess
September 6 - Eat, sleep, hike. Eat, sleep, hike. Eat, sleep, college, work? Yuck! What an incredible journey. Beyond words. - Gordon
September 11 - Just had my last Snickers Bar and now for some champagne congratulations to all behind. - Swiss Miss" [MORE. . .]
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication