Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My own personal Canada

My campsite had been a pretty good choice. I was warm all night. The mosquitoes weren't bad at all. It was quiet. The lumps weren't as bad as I expected.

The breeze came up again in the morning. I packed up and made tea again for breakfast. I ate grapenuts after the tea. I wondered if grapenuts would taste good in the tea, but didn't try it.

The esbit stove was a failure. I used up my mini-bic lighter on two esbit tabs and had to start on the second lighter to make my tea. Esbit was too difficult to light.

After breakfast, I walked the final mile on the PCT to the trail junction where in 2008 I quit the trail in tears. Every PCT hiker should be careful where they leave the trail. It could become their own personal Canada someday.

There was a trail register at this junction. I opened it up and signed my name. I didn't find the register at the real Canadian border but I found the register here. I signed that I had completed the PCT and took a picture of my signature. It felt good to document my achievement. Now it was time to hike the final 12 miles up and over Bishop Pass.

I began the climb to Dusy Basin. The slab waterfall was still there, still flowing.

I met a man while I was taking a picture who had the usual huge pack and big boots. As he let me go ahead of him, he warned me not to be too surprised if he needed to pass me later. He told me he thought my sandals were pretty silly but I told them how well they had been working for me and that I would backpack in them again. He said he was going to do some cross-country hiking and I agreed that shoes would probably be better for that, but I wasn't doing any cross-country hiking, so I was happy with my skirt and sandals. Then he faded into the background never to be seen again. I thought about how maybe instead of planting a seed of the possibilities of lightweight hiking, my sandals, skirt and tiny pack mocked some of these heavy-weight macho men. On the first Sierra Club hike I ever led, as I was trying to tell people how difficult the hike would be, someone was overheard saying "if that little albino girl can do it, how hard could it be?" If someone could sing and skip up the 12,000 foot passes in a skirt, sandals and carrying nearly a day-pack, did that devalue the accomplishments of those who toiled against gravity in this land of extremes?

Dusy Basin was really pretty. I took many pictures. I stopped and washed out my hiking tank top so I would have something clean to wear on the bus to Mammoth later. Then I began the climb to the pass. Storm clouds were forming on one of the big mountains. It looked pretty and ominous. I passed a lot of people on the way to the pass. A few looked like JMT thru-hikers, real serious ones who would probably do the PCT someday. It looked like they were heading out for a resupply. They passed me on the way down and I was unable to catch up to them.

I took a break at the Pass to take my picture and have a snack. Then I began the long climb down. Gratefully there were no snow patches on the switchbacks this time. No snow anywhere really, except one near the top. It was much easier than in 2008.

I made it to the bottom, passing all the pretty lakes and forgetting to fill up my water again. I ate my lunch in the parking lot and bought a soda at the store by the lake.

I walked one mile down the road to Parcher's Resort where I got a $5 shower. The lady working there in the store was going to give me a ride to Bishop, but not until 6:00. I decided to try hitchhiking instead. I got a ride right away with 4 men out fishing on a day off from building a hospital in Bishop. Three of them were named Jose. Los Tres Joses. They thought it was pretty nuts that anyone would walk 80 miles. They couldn't believe there were trails up in those craggy peaks.

They took me to Bishop. I had three hours to wait for the bus. It was 100 degrees. It felt really odd to be in town and not be hungry, to hike all that way and the first thing on my mind wasn't food but a shower and now in town I still didn't want any food. I wasn't a thru-hiker anymore.

It also felt strange to be in town and not see anyone I knew. But all the hikers I would have known in the past were long gone, and those hiking this year would be in Oregon by now.

It felt good to finish the trail. Now I felt ready to start it all over again!

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