Where the Trail Ends (T-Fox)

September 4 – 2641 to 2660 (19 miles)
September 5 – 2660 to 2669 (9 miles)

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September 4 – 19 miles

This morning is like no other morning on the trail. Unlike all the other mornings, we don’t check the elevation charts and maps and plan our day. Our day is simple. Walk 19 miles to Canada. Don’t rush…don’t plan…just walk.

There’s a lightness in my heart like no other…I’m going to do this thing! No more “maybes” and “probably’s” and “man, I sure hope so’s.” Just a definite, sweet, glorious FOR SURE. No doubt about it Lorax! We’re gonna finish this “never-ending” hike, and we’re gonna do it today.

We are so laid back, that we ignore our alarm in the morning and sleep for another hour. The day is perfect – dare I say the most perfect day yet? Blue skies, amazing conversation, a chill hiking speed, no hurry, and even an extended lunch.

We lounge in the sun atop the last big ascent, eating our tuna wraps and cookies. Lorax comments on all the distant mountains…Canadian mountains. Home.

After lunch, the trail descends a few hundred feet, just to come right back onto the ridge we are standing on. There’s an alternate trail that has been closed because it is impassable, and it loses less elevation by traversing along the shale bowl of the ridge. One guidebook describes the route as only necessary if you want to die on your last day on the PCT. Sounds fun.

Lorax begs me to allow him to do it. It only saves a mile, but he’s drawn to it “just for fun.” I know my man well, and I know that he has a higher than average sense of adventure. While I’m just happy to hike the well managed trails, he likes more of a challenge, and the PCT has not really presented much challenge for him. So…what’s the harm…?

He starts his sketchy traverse, while I begin my long switch-backing descent into the valley. He promises me that if the trail gets ridiculous he will turn back and join me. I lose sight of him early on, and assume he got across early, but as I approach the beginning of my climb, I spot him walking along the loosest shale, with no trail whatsoever. It turns out the trail literally drops off into a shale field with no way across but down. He looks like he is managing well though, so I keep climbing. At the top he tells me that he wouldn’t need to do that again, but if he hadn’t, he’d always wonder “what if.” No harm done.

The afternoon is surreal. Did we seriously walk all the way to Canada? Is that even possible? Who does that anyway?! I am honestly in disbelief. What an accomplishment. What an adventure. What a character builder!

As we get within a few miles of the Northern Terminus, I get butterflies in my stomach – the same nervous feeling I had standing at the Southern Terminus at the Mexican border. It’s weird really, that one would feel nervous upon ending a hike. I have to pee more than usual (nervous energy!), and find myself getting a lot quieter. Lorax is his usual, chipper self, cracking jokes and keeping the mood light. I feel so heavy though…so introverted and somber. I’m excited and happy too…just feeling a lot of confusion over my emotions. This is a good thing to be ending….right?

We see the strip of cut trees that mark the border line – it’s so close! I beginning to run, and let out a nervous squeal. Running to the monument. Running to the end. I want it so baldly all of a sudden that walking seems inappropriate.

And there she is, in all her glory: The Northern Terminus, looking nearly identical to her southern counterpart. I drop my hiking poles on the ground and throw my hands to my face…tears welling in my eyes. “Wow,” is all I can say. Lorax takes a good look at the monument, and comes over for a great, big, celebratory hug.

“We did it T-Fox. We’re thru-hikers.”

We did make it. We ARE thru-hikers! Despite the numerous announcements of my quitting, and against several odds (as roughly 30% of hikers make it), we did it. The moment is like no other moment we have ever experienced, and we’re not likely to feel it again. We have stepped from a hopeful thru-hiker to a thru-hiker: all 2660 miles done in one continuous hike. We feel proud…and lucky that everything worked out.

We take several pictures at the monument, faces beaming with joy. WHAT A FEELING!

Lorax cracks open a mini bottle of champagne that he carried out from our last town stop in Stehekin. He sets the camera up for a picture, and the iPad to video mode. He times everything just right, giving the bottle a good shake, and releases the spray…all over me!! I let out a stunned scream just as the camera clicks, and we are left with the best monument picture of all time (in our biased view of course).

After signing the register, we reluctantly leave the monument, as two other hikers, Tim and Scott, are there as well and we want to give them some space to soak it in. We are in Canada…our home sweet home. We walk the 0.2 miles to camp, holding hands, all smiles. What a great moment to share with one’s spouse, partner, and best friend.

The evening grows cold, and Lorax builds a campfire. We invite Tim and Scott over, and the four of us talk about the trail for hours. We eat our final camp dinners…nothing fancy, but oh so familiar and comfortable. We retire to our tent, feeling awfully at peace.

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The hydro cut that marks the border!

The hydro cut that marks the border!

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September 5 – 9 miles

Sleep until seven. Toss around in my warm down sleeping bag, savouring her comfort and security.

Time to get up. While we have completed our thru-hike from Mexico to Canada, there are still 9 more miles to “civilization” that is Manning Park BC. They are not technically PCT miles, but they are part of this hike.

We’re happy today. I savour the last uphill climbs, feeling the burn in my chiseled calves and thighs. We talk of how we will maintain our bodies in the near future, but also how nothing will ever compare to walking all the time. The conversation even turns to future thru-hikes that we may want to do. Maybe the CDT that follows the same border to border idea, but does so through the Rocky Mountains. And then maybe the Great Divide Trail, Canada’s extension of the CDT. Maybe. Just maybe.

And then…the trail ends. It literally JUST STOPS. No more.

We stand there, looking back at the trail that we have called home for so long, and ahead at the paved road that leads to the rest of our lives. I feel so sad! It’s so final. So abrupt. But I guess there’s no easy way to rip away the best experience in one’s life.

We eat lunch where the trail ends, sharing a Corona (for Mexico, of course!) and try to keep things light, while both of our hearts are sinking.

We hike to the lodge, have showers, do laundry, and sit in deliciously comfortable couches.

“You don’t have to walk tomorrow T-Fox.” Wow. That’s so strange.

We hitch to the campground, which is 4 km away, and wait for our friends to arrive. Kyle, Mere, Ryan, and Barb all made the long drive to Manning Park, just to celebrate with us! Our BC friends! We feel so special, and very appreciative of their support. They arrive just after dark, and hoot and holler out their windows upon seeing us sitting at the picnic table. There are plenty of hugs going around, and Kyle quickly gets to cooking us the most delicious vegetable curry rice meal EVER. We all wear party hats…like children. Man I love my friends.

It’s the perfect ending to a perfect adventure. It feels good to be among familiar, loving faces…to transition back to society with the help of some really great folks. I’m not sure if they realize how helpful they were in reminding me that there is ALWAYS great people in my life – that I don’t need to hike the PCT forever to feel connected to something that matters. The PCT is incredible, but so is my life and the constants within my life – great friends and family, who love and support me.

And who didn’t think I would make it. 🙂

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At the end of the trail

At the end of the trail

Our welcome gang!

Our welcome gang!

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25 Responses to Where the Trail Ends (T-Fox)

  1. cenazwalker says:

    Good job you two. Most peoples trip reports bore me to tears but I’ve enjoyed following your journey. Best of luck with whatever comes next.

  2. Mother Hen says:

    What? Your hike can’t end..What’s Mother Hen going to do. You have been like my very own chicks that flew the coop years ago.. This old granny hen is proud of you two… So cool and and every other descriptive word for brave, inspirational, intelligent and role models for the young generation. Thank you for all the wonderful photos and the chuckles too.. God Bless you and keep you as you start another chapter of life together..0x

  3. Mother Hen says:

    Reblogged this on Words Like Honey and commented:
    This extraordinary young couple did it…Congratulations!

  4. Mahlon Frey says:

    Momma, & Poppa Fox, are so proud their little T-Fox, & her supportive Lorax !!!!!
    It was so fun to follow, your incredible adventure, through your blog.
    Best wishes, for your future journey.

    Love, Poppa, & Momma Fox

  5. Wow congratulations … so very exciting! I can only imagine …

  6. cmans says:

    I’m so glad to hear that you guys made it! He probably doesn’t remember my family and I, but we talked to Lorax when you guys stopped for a swim at Payne’s Lake in the Russian Wilderness in CA (back in July!). I’ve been following your journey ever since. Congrats on your accomplishment and best of luck to your future endeavors.

  7. Alyson says:

    Congratulations you guys! I’m really going to miss reading about your adventures, they’ve been a really wonderful part of my summer this year. All the best on you relocation to Victoria!

  8. Deb says:

    What a wonderful blog! Thank you so much! I have not commented before, but I was with you on your entire adventure, including a little tear for your success. Thanks much and best wishes on wherever life takes you!

  9. What an incredible adventure. I don’t even know you and I have chills and tears of pride! You are surely two very courageous and fortunate people. Oh and, I AM SO JEALOUS!!! 😉

  10. GGedney says:

    Congratulations to both of you!! Glad to see the hat was around to be part of the celebrations!

  11. mikki says:

    not gonna lie – i shed a tear for you guys. what an incredible physical and emotional journey with your best friend. hold on to every moment. hold tight. xo

  12. Congratulations…and thanks for sharing your journey with us “virtual-through-hikers-through-you” over the past many months. Enjoy settling down into a fewer miles per day life again. If you have the time and inclination to write up a gear review on what worked and what didn’t, it would be awesome. I’m curious how Dan’s hat worked out…did it provide him with sufficient ventilation and shade as the trip progressed? Enjoy your post-hike rest!!!! -Mammoth Codger

  13. dandurston says:

    Great write up Hun. That is the best monument photo of all time.

    Codger: Yeah I’ll likely write up a gear post in the next couple weeks. Most of our stuff worked well but we learned a few things and has some failures.

  14. Reta says:

    Congratulations! I enjoyed the journey with all it’s agony and ecstasy !

  15. Janet Firth says:

    so Amazing to see you do this journey and you both rock! Thanks for sharing your stories with us! Glad your home safe and sound!

  16. Congratulations! It was an amazing journey, and I feel privileged to have followed your adventure all these months. It was so much fun anticipating the next blog post, then reading your words and gazing at all those pictures. I honestly thought you were crazy when I first found out you planned to walk from Mexico to Canada, but you’ve changed my thinking. What an adventure! What a challenge! You two will never forget this. There’s nothing you can’t accomplish!

  17. jennihikes says:

    Thanks so much for sharing, I’ve really enjoyed following you – it was a great privilege. Congratulations to the three of you – T-Fox, Lorax, Still A Hat. Love and Light, Jenni

  18. Megan Firth says:

    So Happy! So Sad! Wowzers! I’m hear at home finished reading your blog and I’m all teary eyed. You are an amazing writer Tara. I have felt like I’ve been alongside you the whole time. I’m going to miss reading about all your adventures. Thank you for blogging, thank you for sharing this adventure with us.
    And CONGRATULATIONS! I’m doing a happy dance for you! I’m so proud of you. You’ve inspired me. I’m thinking about doing the Bruce next summer, or maybe in 2 summers.

  19. Congratulations on such an amazing accomplishment. It was wonderful to follow your journey.

  20. Jill says:

    I found your blog today (through traveling by trails Brent and Gypsy) and just finished reading…you two did an amazing job! It really takes a lot to push through those low moments and it was heartwarming to see you support each other throughout the hike.

  21. Congrats on your long walk home!

  22. Poppa Lorax says:

    Very proud of you two. One fun challenge over and may you have many more.

  23. Toto says:

    Congratulations guys. I just finished reading your blog while hanging out at the airport. Really enjoyed the whole thing beginning to end.

    • dandurston says:

      Aww thanks Toto! We’re so glad you enjoyed them. At times, it was a real pain to write from the trail, but ultimately I knew it would probably be the most crucial time to capture life in words and pictures. If someone asked me to write about the PCT now, I’m not sure if I could muster the detail…I’d just say, “Yup, it was pretty awesome.” It’s the little details that make the trail so uniquely interesting and oddly memorable. And what would we do without pictures?! Take care my friend…
      T-Fox

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