On the Final Stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail

With the finish line just a few days away, our PCT correspondent mulls over what that means.
Photo by Amanda Jameson

Photo by Amanda Jameson

As I approach the end of my journey, timing is of the essence. I've made arrangements to get home, and while those plans are a bit flexible, I'm coming down to the wire. So when I arrived in Stehekin—a town only accessible by boat, plane, or the PCT—and learned that the postal service had failed me yet again, I was a little grouchy about it. Still, I had a good time: the town is stunning in its stillness, the Stehekin Pastry Co. soothed my roaring stomach, and the stories I heard from the locals and workers sated my curiosity. Plus, after waiting a day, not only did I get to see people I hadn't seen in 2,200 miles, but the lovely Undercover and A-Game—who I camped with during the rainy days before Stevens Pass—caught up with me. Being on a similar timeframe, we all walked out of Stehekin together with the goal of finishing in four days.

We've found ourselves constrained, however, by the availability of campsites. North Cascades National Park requires specific permits for all campsites within its bounds. The landscape of northern Washington hasn't helped either: in the past, the topography has been such that you can find places to camp even where there's not a campsite labeled on the maps. Here, the topo lines on the maps are so close together, and unless you want to camp on a pass—which are usually exposed and cold—there really isn't much else in the way of camping opportunities aside from the noted sites. So yesterday, we did 14 miles out of Stehekin in the afternoon, and today, we made 26 miles, leaving us on top of Glacier Pass. Thankfully, Glacier is a bit lower than we're used to, and our site is a little warmer and in the trees.

We've also been graced with gorgeous weather. Rainy Pass, which we climbed into and out of this morning, threatened us with its signature precipitation before clearing off as we climbed to Cutthroat Pass. It was a strange but welcome feeling to take layers off instead of scrabbling to put more on. I don't think we could have asked for better weather.

That weather, according to the report the rangers showed us in Stehekin, is supposed to stay this way for the next few days—which, barring unforeseen changes, will be long enough for us to get to Canada. My whole hike has come down to the next two days, and I'm just hoping everything comes together.