Welcome to Canada!

by Gillian Larson | posted: September 22, 2016
Gillian Larson and Shyla at the northern terminus of the PCT

We did it! Today we finished our ride to Canada, arriving at the monument and then going on to Manning Park. It was a tough last section as we seemed to enter a winter wonderland as we neared the border, and it feels as if I am getting done just in time, as the weather is definitely changing fast.

snow blankets the trail as we approach the Canadian border

Since leaving Stevens Pass, the trail has thrown one obstacle at us after another, from downed trees to rain and freezing weather and now snow, but we made it safe and sound and are now in Manning Park where Shyla is pigging out on hay and I am enjoying a long, hot shower in the lodge.

coming over Woody Pass

We camped off trail last night just below the snow line because I was warned by a couple of hikers that all of the places that I was planning to camp at were under about a half a foot of snow. I thought it would be best to stop early, even if it meant more miles the next day, so that Shyla could possibly have a chance to graze (which she couldn't do if everything was covered in snow). Then when we set out the next morning, we climbed up Woody Pass, where everything was suddenly blanketed in white. It was beautiful and dramatic--but also very cold! I wore every piece of clothing I had, even the long underwear I normally sleep in, as well as two pairs of pants and two pairs of socks.

a taste of winter during the last few miles to the border

The snow got deeper on the last climb of the trail, where only the tramping of the hikers' feet made the trail visible.

finally descending out of the snow

Then as we dropped in elevation the closer we got to the border, the snow began to lessen and gradually gave way to a clear trail again.

nearly to the border

But even during the last few miles, surrounded by beautiful fall colors, we also encountered some more obstacles with fallen trees. Most were small, but there were a couple very large ones, and probably some of the worst were in the last quarter mile to Canada!

one of the couple dozen trees across the trail in the last two miles

It was a good feeling to finally make it safe and sound. And one of the best things about these last 200 miles was the fact at last I was moving in the same direction with a group of hikers, and we all traveled these sections together. I got to meet some really amazing people, both on and off the trail, and I made lasting friendships, something that I didn't have a chance to do in 2014. The photos above that show me riding were all taken by my friend Ruben, who was hiking the PCT as part of the Warrior Expeditions, which is a veteran non-profit program that sponsors vets and gives them the support they need to make a thru-hike.


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