The final 88 miles of the trail are before me.
Just 88 miles to Manning Park, BC.
88 miles has never seemed so far.
‘It’s the end of an era’ my grandma wrote in her last care package.
The journey of a lifetime, I’m told. And it’s true. A journey full of unexpected surprises.
It’s November, there’s another snowstorm coming. Why am I still out here?
Quite frankly. Why not?
There’s never been a reason not to be out here. This is what I thrive on.
I was asked once (or perhaps many times) why I was so slow if I didn’t have a problem with speed or injuries. My reply: ‘I’m not slow (or late), I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.’
Just exactly where I’m supposed to be.
So much of the joy of this journey happened because I was right where I was, when I was there. So many people were met, new friends made, sunsets watched, stars gazed at…
Life happens because of the choices we make.
I chose to hike this trail with my dad and sister, we picked what seemed to be a random day in April.
Team No Hurries was born after we hiked one mile and walked into the store at Campo to spend all the change in our pockets on V8 and use a flush toilet one last time.
Everything that happened after that, happened because of that first choice.
We had a blast. Took days off when we needed them. Enjoyed sitting on porches. Laughed at our devolement into hikertrash.
Then, one by one, I lost my hiking partners.
It was a bit lonely in Oregon. I discovered I really don’t enjoy hiking solo. I’m glad I did for a week. Gained some perspective. Talked to myself way too much.
Then I ran into Silent D again. (Actually, my dad and our friend Gnarly were looking for me at Willamette Pass and saw Silent D first, and sort of kidnapped him).
There’s a friend out here!
We hiked on.
We became the Lollygag Crew.
He jokes that I’m cursed with having slow hiking partners. Perhaps.
Probably would have been done with the trail a couple months ago, and on with life (whatever that might be).
But I don’t mind. I don’t think I would have had nearly as much fun. I’m rather glad to have been slowed down.
I was once told that at the Kickoff event, I looked way too relaxed, like I was just going for a walk in the park. Probably wouldn’t make it. (Yep, that comment almost set off the redhead fury).
But it was a walk in the park. A very big park.
Pitting yourself against what Mother Nature throws at you is where the adventure starts.
I want to find out just exactly what I’m made of. Discover my limits, my perceived limits and what I can push through.
This is why I spend about half of every year living in the wilderness. The beautiful days are great. But you learn the most about yourself when the going gets tough. Throw in the inclement weather and roll with it.
I’ve hiked through about a month of storms. I know I can survive them. Got the right gear, the right training and skills. The game becomes mental. I wonder sometimes why I’m doing this after three days of rain, or slogging through snow and slush. But then the sun comes out again! It always does eventually. It’s like a breath of fresh air when the clouds lift a bit and you can see an epic view, or there’s a ray of sun through the clouds.
Then I remember.
That touch of beauty in the world is more precious when it’s fleeting.
I was told I was crazy to think I would make it to Canada when I was hitting the Oregon/Washington border early October. (These comments actually started in the Sierras when I was told I was late, should give up the dream, set a lesser goal. As I kept hiking, I started to be called insane. Insane for trying? Isn’t crazier not to try?)
I am a dreamer. And I am a doer.
It’s a tough road to dream big. You have to fight for it. Work for it. Struggle with it. Give everything to that dream.
And it’s worth it.
In the end it’s always worth it.
I’m 88 miles from accomplishing this dream.
This close to the goal, and yet there’s still a question mark if I’ll make it or not.
Makes the end exciting.
It’s going to get colder. There’s going to be more snow coming. We know our last exit points. We’ve been studying the map for over a week now. Giving ourselves seven days to get there. Talking on the phone with my dad, he asks if we have enough food. Next to me, Silent D has just filled his food bag with 20+ pounds of food. ‘Oh yeah. We have food.’ In fact, after a few miles we’re going to start looking for people to give food to. We’re also packing snowshoes as our insurance policy. (And no, I haven’t weighed my pack since I left Oregon.)
Ready for some more high passes. Ready for more snow. Ready for colder nights.
Up to the end, there’s no easy on this trail.
I have to earn Canada.
Earn it with everything I’ve got.
I’m still hiking North.