Mile Hiked: 18
Total Milage: 2585
It started raining this morning around 5:30am when it was still dark. Machine cowboy camped last night meaning he didn’t have his tent set up. When it started raining I told him he was welcome to get in my tent or under my vestibule since I have a two person tent and he didn’t have an ideal spot to pitch his. He refused and instead pulled out his umbrella and sat in the rain. Darwin yelled at Machine to get in my tent because he was being so stubborn and stupid. It gave me a good laugh. It stopped raining by 7am. When I crawled out of my tent, Machine was sitting against a tree under his umbrella watching Netflix. I can’t believe he just opted to sit outside in the rain. He said it’s not the first time he has done that and that he hasn’t pitched his tent since Wyoming?. A long time ago.
We all took our time packing up and getting ready to hike our last day on the CDT. It’s hard to believe the finish is so close! For breakfast I ate a biscuits and gravy mountain house and made some tea. I was running very low on food and had my meager rations planned out for the rest of today and the home back to the road tomorrow. It wouldn’t be fun to be hungry but it definitely wouldn’t kill me.
I left camp before everyone else. The day started with a small ascent through an alpine meadow and then a very long and somewhat steep descent down to the Waterton Valley. For some reason, before I descended, I was getting vibes about being in Alaska. The terrain looked like what I would imagine Alaska to look like. Wild, untouched, lush, and very green. On the downhill I was pushing through a lot of brush. Luckily I had my rain pants on to avoid getting soaked by all the plants otherwise I’m sure I would have a plethora of scratches up and down my legs. When I reached the bottom of the valley, the over growth didn’t really let up. Once again I was clacking my poles and yelling “hey bear!” To alert any animals that may be in the area that I was coming through. Spider Monkey, Fire Hazzard, and Wild Turkey were all walking south bound through the valley. They had touched the border early this morning and were on their way back to the road to get picked up. I congratulated them all. They all finished their triple crown! I hope to be doing the same next summer on the Washington/Canadian border at the Northern Terminus of the PCT. How surreal it must feel to have such a big goal complete.
When I was a mile from our campsite, Legs and Darwin passed me. Before I went to camp, I stopped at the Goat Giant Ranger station at the south end of Waterton Lake. It was really weird to see so many buildings far out in the backcountry. They looked like they were all recently abandoned. The dock on the lake was incredibly beautiful and I was so glad I went out of my way to see it. I thought that if the word “Closure” could be turned into a physical place, this was it.
I forded a stream right before camp absolutely soaking my socks and shoes. It was a bummer after having them dry for so long. At camp, we all hung out for a little bit and claimed a spot with our tents. Machine showed up as well. After about an hour or two we all left to hike the last four miles to the border. It was finally happening! The last four miles to the border followed the edge of Waterton Lake. The trail was still very over grown and the lake was hiding behind all the vegetation for most of the time. I was kind of glad I couldn’t see it. The end would be a little more dramatic. When I finally reached the border it looked like how I had pictured it. There were two monuments marking the international boundary and I walked up to touch both of them. The was a wide open view of the lake because the border was totally clear cut in a straight line. How strange.
We all took our time getting some pictures. I wasn’t really that emotional at all. It just felt great to finally be done. We all sat around just enjoying the moment until I walked down to the dock and started stripping my clothes off. I wanted to jump in the lake. It was so surreal that I was only trying to beat the snow here but instead the weather was so good I got to jump in the lake! I was dreading the ice cold water but I knew I would regret not jumping in. When else would I get to walk 2585 miles and jump into a lake at the end? Almost no other long distance hiking trail ends at a body of water besides the Florida trail. Legs took a video of me as I ran off the dock and cannon balled into the lake. It was freezing as expected but it was so refreshing once I was standing in the sunshine. Everyone else jumped off as well.
The other things I did at the border to celebrate finishing were drinking a YooHoo that I practiced some serious self discipline to not consume over the last five days, I made a fancy backpacking desert that my sister sent me, and I sent a check in message from my satellite phone with a location marker so my family would know that I was at the Canadian border. What. A. Day. Overall I think we spent 3-4 hours hanging out at the border and enjoying the lake. We took some silly pictures with life sabers that Darwin’s mom sent him in the mail as a tradition. Darwin and Machine both completed their triple crowns today. What a big deal!
Around 6pm we walked back to camp for the night. I didn’t want to walk southbound. I wished the trail could just end right there at the border. In a normal year we could have continued hiking 8 miles north to a road and then crossed back over the border in a car. Because of COVID, the border crossing was closed. We were all vaccinated and have our passports but there is no way to produce a negative covid test when it takes three days of Backcountry travel to reach that border crossing. Tomorrow we will have to hike another 22 miles from camp and ascend back up to the fifth mountain campsite. I’m not looking forward to it. At camp, I made some hot chocolate before bed and got in my tent early. I am so far behind on my blog and wanted to get some writing done before I reenter society and have no desire to write at all.
I just wanted to say thank you to anyone who has followed along and supported me by reading this blog! It wasn’t easy to stay disciplined and get it done everyday but it was worth it!
– Early Bird