2622.5 to 2646.7, 24.2 miles
Such an awesome day today. I woke to a cool breeze stroking my face through my mesh door of my tent. The sun had just come up and looking outside, blue skies were all around. Summer is finally here and not a day too late. I was going to make the most of a day like this.
From Hart’s Pass the trail initially slowly climbed, cutting across the contours to gain some height and then biting into the hill side to stay level for a while.
The miles were coming easy as my body did it’s thing, my mind wandering all over the place in a sort of meditative state. Every step taken is one less towards Canada and closer to finishing this project.
I got my 10 miles by 10am in and stopped at Shaw’s Creek to refill my water. It was here I met Data and Click, section hikers who have slowly been chipping away at sections of the PCT and about to close out another. They’re also headed to the border and into Manning Park. I haven’t met many Americans who go into Canada. Quite a lot just hit the border and turn around the walk the 30 miles back to Hart’s Pass.
Data and Click were great and we got chatting for a while. One of them, I forget which, has been doing trail interviews over the years and is piecing together a bit of a doco on hikers of the PCT. So I had my 2 minutes of fame being interviewed. They were particularly impressed by my trail tatts and had to get photos.
Shortly after leaving Shaw’s Creek the trail led into the Holman Fire area, the fire that shut me down last year. It was great to be walking through it this time around. There were quite a few trees blown down across the trail that had to be negotiated but they were no problem. As a firefighter, one thing that stood out was the fire area – it wasn’t that big at all and it didn’t look to be that intense either. Fire did scar both sides of the trail. Damn stupid thing, closing the trail on me like that 12 months ago. Too bad. To be quite honest I’m sure I could have negotiated my way around tis fire while it was still burning last year.
From Shaw Creek it was up and down for the rest of the day. Climb up to one valley to a pass for awesome views and climb down into another valley, and repeat.
The climb out of Holman Creek to Rock Pass was a killer. A steeper grade than usual and not that many switchbacks. It was an effort for sure. But that is fine as there were only two more climbs in the whole PCT and I’d set myself the challenge to complete them today.
From the top of Rock Pass the whole next section of trail could be seen all the way, descending in long windy switchbacks, cutting across a rockfall and the more switchbacks up to Woody Pass.
Negotiating the switchbacks down I could see a train of horses headed my way. As they approached I found a spot up slope and sat back to let them pass. Horses have right of way on the trail. 15 in total, the lead bunch were a couple of cowboys with mules in tow, loaded with gear. The second bunch, I’m fairly certain were paying clients being lead on horses by guides. Now that is the way to do the trail.
Yet more tough climbing got me on top of Woody Pass. Most hikers choose to camp here the night before reaching the border but the sites didn’t look that great to me and I had the hot tip of better sites near Lake Hopkins. As a bonus continuing on means I get the last climb of the trail out the way and it puts me within 6 miles of the border. Woohoo!
The last climb wasn’t as steep but my feet told me it was. Towards the top I was more shuffling uphill than hiking. It was so good to reach the top knowing it’s all down hill from here.
I pressed on the final 1.5 miles for the day to Hopkins Lake. My feet had had enough.