Friday, October 19, 2012

After the End

Breakfast at Manning Park

It's been three weeks since I made it to Canada with Portrait right behind me.  That night we camped at the PCT Camp roughly four miles north of the border. The next day we hiked to Manning Park and then caught the bus to Vancouver. We didn't see much of the city beyond our hostel window. Portrait might have been up for sight seeing, but I know I wasn't. I had a hard enough time moving from the kitchen upstairs to our room on the main floor.

My tendons have been healing. By the time we caught our flight back to the east coast more than a week had passed since we had finished and I wasn't hobbling around anymore.  While still hiking we had talked about how we would be a couple of slugs on the sofa at Portrait's uncle's house. I took that daydream to heart and read a book cover to cover on that couch with a blanket, snacks, and hot drinks.

Hiking in New Hampshire
Since being back in Vermont I have gone on two very short day hikes--both only a couple of miles. It was nice not to worry about miles, to be packless, and not hiking through pain. I was much more interested in the PCT party my parents threw for me and Portrait. There was another Castle cake and sugar cookies decorated as boot prints, mountains, and the PCT symbol. There were friends and family members that I hadn't seen for months--many well before the start of the hike.
PCT sugar cookies

A few days after my party I finally got around to weighing my pack. I had started with a 17 pound base weight. I had sent home my first round of stuff after hiking 110 miles. In Washington, with my tendons hurting more every day, I sent stuff home or left stuff behind at every town stop, Steven's Pass and Stehkin being the most dramatic weight drops. I have updated my gear list to show what I was left with by the time I made it to Canada. At the border I had an 8 pound base weight plus food and water and that was still more weight than my tendons wanted to carry.

While hiking Portrait and I spent many hours planning how I could have a lighter pack next time. We are already planning on hiking the Continental Divide Trail next year. Hopefully we will be hiking northbound from Mexico to Canada, but that depends on the snow this winter. We'll have plenty to keep us busy over the winter: making super ultralight packs, a new sleeping bag for me, a new tent, different rain gear, dehydrating my food, route planning, applying for permits. There will be no end to the tasks. 

Neither Portrait or I plan on keeping a daily blog on the CDT. At the beginning of the hike I enjoyed writing my blog and I still enjoyed it later on in the hike when I was waking up at 5 a.m. to write for an hour because I no longer had the energy or the time to write in the evening. Blogging started to eat into my hiking time and I could hardly afford to loose hiking time and on the CDT, with a more rugged and longer trail, I doubt I can keep up with a blog.

Blogging also ate into my town time. I wasn't good at staying up to date. At each town stop I needed to write a few entries and ended up spending hours on the computer typing away. In town blogging was a chore that I came to dread. My favorite town stops were the ones where I wasn't on the computer: Independence, Sierra City, Burney, Siead Valley. I am glad to have a record of my hike, and I do feel a sense of disappointment that I won't have such a record for the CDT.

We are planning on keeping some kind of record of our hike. We talked about it often while hiking and have some ideas. Our goal is to do something fun and easy. Stay tuned.


  1. Wow, 8 pounds! That's awesome. Though, not so awesome that you arrived there by such a painful necessity. After I got off the trail, I really appreciated reading your blog and following your hike. Thank you for being so faithful in keeping it. I'm looking forward to hearing about your hike on the CDT with Portrait, however you end up documenting it :)

  2. Sorry I couldn't be there for the party. At least your tendons made it through without permanent damage. Welcome home!

  3. Congratulations on finishing your hike! I've enjoyed reading about it on your blog and am amazed at the journey you've taken.

  4. Congratulations to both of you. I was following Portrait up the AT when he first met you, Castle, and was reading his PCT journal when the two of you got together this year. I am both very happy for the two of you and really envious because big hikes are not in my life (at least until my second son graduates from college). Enjoy your winter jobs and your prep for the final leg of your triple crown. I am looking forward to your "documentation" of it. Peace!

  5. Congratulations again and thanks for sharing your journey. Heal well this winter!! I'm also glad that you did not incur permanent tendon damage; I was quite concerned. I'll be interested in reviewing your updated pack list as I was curious about why you were at 40lbs after all these months when Portrait was at 11. I'm really looking forward to continuing to trim mine. I know the first thing I need to do is find a lighter weight pack that has the support of the mid-weight packs.

  6. I really appreciated you taking the time to write such an interesting journal. I followed it often and learned a lot from your hike.