First of all, an apology. It’s been a long time since I updated. But we’re alive and well. And at home.
We didn’t make it to Canada. We had a tough but absolutely amazing trek through Washington. We made it to Stehekin, just 80 miles short of the Canadian border, before learning of an unusually early-season storm system threatening to wreak havoc on the Northern Cascades. We’d hiked into Stehekin through another storm which took a huge toll on us and nearly took us off the trail, and this next one was forecast to be much larger with a much lower snow level. We holed up in a hotel room for a few days, trying to determine whether we could continue. It was an emotional couple of days. We went over and over all of our options. We considered whether we could wait out the storm. We price-checked the gear we’d need to go forward through the snow. Deep down, we knew we weren’t just lacking the proper gear. We lacked the snow skills to take on the conditions we knew we were likely to face if we headed onward, but we wanted so badly to make it work. The thought of leaving the trail so close to the end absolutely gutted us both, but after several days of (me) breaking down into tears every time we talked about this being the end, we accepted it. And in the end, I have no doubt that it was absolutely the right decision for us. The storm dumped three feet of snow everywhere we would have been hiking for the next section, obliterating visible signs of the trail and leaving anyone who attempted to hike through postholing up to their waist in fresh snow with each step, which is an exhausting experience. There were several hikers that were caught out on the trail during the storm who required emergency assistance from search and rescue. Thankfully, all of them made it out unharmed. Several more hikers attempted to hike through the last section in the days following the storm only to turn back around after finding it too difficult to pass through.
Ultimately, leaving the final 80 mile section for another time in better weather was the right choice for us but it still hurts. We weren’t aware of the rough forecast until we’d arrived in Stehekin, so we had no idea when we woke that morning that it would be our last day on trail. We’re still reeling from a lack of closure and we’re both missing the trail so much that it’s a physical ache. I wouldn’t trade our final days on trail for anything, though. If the PCT is a lesson, then Washington is the hardest final exam I’ve ever taken. Every day in Washington brought with it new challenges but it’s also where we forged and solidified some of the most amazing friendships we made throughout the whole trip. We’re hoping to go back next summer to finish up the last 80 miles into Canada, ideally with several of our hiking buddies as a reunion of sorts. In the meantime, we have about 200 miles to mop up in Southern California, so we’ll be working on getting those done as soon as we can get out there. Right now we’re keeping busy catching back up with family and friends and adjusting back into life off-trail.
We still have lots to share about our time in Washington, and I am working on blog posts for the last 4 sections we completed. Those will all be up over the next few days. We also have a ton of photos to share from the trip (as well as the road trip home), so I’ll be getting those up, too. Thanks so much for sticking with us and for being part of our PCT experience. It meant so much to us to have so many people cheering us on!