The End of My PCT Journey (Mile 907-703)
Cruising the JMT
The John Muir Trail is a 211 mile trail from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney. The JMT essentially follows the PCT the entire time, and in my opinion is one of the most beautiful sections of the PCT. Essentially each day we would walk up a mountain pass, swim in a lake, and just bask in the sun. We were hit with absolutely perfect weather, in fact I think it only rained on us once in the Sierras.
My group and I had decided that we wanted to take the last days of our trip, and our only days in the Sierra at a slower pace to enjoy it more. I could feel my energy so quickly regain after we stopped averaging the 25 miles a day and began averaging 20 miles a day.
I think every person can probably think of a few moments, or string together a few days that feel like you are walking through a dream. The sights go hazy with beauty, there seems to be a constant whisp of laughter in the air, and the sun is always hugging you with warmth. This is how the entire Sierras felt to me. It’s strange how I haven’t been to most of these places, but they still felt like home.
Each mountain pass had its own unique flare of gorgeous lakes, desolate alpine environments, and breathtaking views. One advantage of leaving the Sierras for the last section of my PCT journey is that now my body is created for one thing: walking. It wouldn’t matter how long or tall a mountain pass was, it all seemed to come naturally, without strain. I feel like I would have out-of-body experiences at the top of some passes thinking to myself, “How is my body not tired? She’s still going!”. If you do one simple thing for 5 months, you get pretty good at it.
11 Days in the Wild
Pineapple’s family was meeting him at the bottom of Kearsarge pass and was kind enough to bring our ‘resupply’ (a hiker term referring to any groceries/goods you need from town) to us. This meant that instead of going into town, we would have 11 days in the wild. No town food, no random hitches, and no showers for 11 days. On our way back up Kearsarge Pass we ran into quite a few people we had seen on our way down Kearsarge Pass. I ran into one backpacker who was very new to backpacking. He was from Ohio and had flown out just for the weekend because of how beautiful he heard the Sierras are. He realized that I was a PCT hiker and asked to take a picture with me. This may seem simple, but to be honest is probably one of the highlights of my trip. I first learned about the PCT around Kearsarge Pass from a hiker who was resupplying off of the pass. It felt like full circle. I was now the person telling people about the PCT and living my dream.
Traditionally, the Northern Terminus is the end for north bound hikers. However, I tagged that terminus over a month ago and still had about 600 miles more to walk in the Sierras. Mt. Whitney soon became what I would think of as my ‘end point’.
We had packed up camp by 2am so we could reach the summit by sunrise. The elevation made me a little loopy, but the whole way up was beautiful. Glitter, Lab Rat, and I talked and laughed underneath the stars all the way to the top. As soon as we reached the top, we saw the first light of daybreak. It was gorgeously, watching the red and orange slowly paint the sky, knowing that the last big landmark of the trip was complete. It was hard to hold back tears on such a beautiful peak, with incredible friends, knowing that the PCT was about to end.
I’ll save you the details, but essentially each one of my group members had slowly trickled off of trail around Mt. Whitney till it was just me in the woods. I had the last day and a half on the PCT all to myself. It seemed all of the animals came out in that last 24 hours to greet me farewell. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more baby deer on trail, the coyotes kept me up all night with their celebratory howling, and the owls would softly hoot me back to sleep. I cruised on my last full day, taking loads of breaks, trying to take it as slow as possible. However, since I had exited the Sierras and had pretty conditioned legs, I hit the 25-mile mark before dinner time.
The last day was equally as beautiful. Loads of day hikers filled the trail in the last 5 miles with their eager faces and town-smell scents. I felt as if I was sharing my home with them. The trail that I had grown so fond of and lived on for the past 5+ months was giving them the same joy that it had given me.
My parents and Lab Rat met me at my true end of the PCT, Kennedy Meadows South. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of my accomplishments than I am of completing the PCT. It was full of toil, beauty, and friendship. It began as simply as it started, and I guess that’s why I loved it so much. All I really did was put one foot in front of the other. It doesn’t take that much skill, or experience, but it takes a whole lot of heart.
I’ll be posting at least two last blogs to sum up (1) the practical side of the PCT (2) the emotional side of the PCT. So stay tuned!
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