Friday August 21
As I lay in my tent last night at the campground just beyond the northern monument, I found it hard to sleep. Like the ending of a good book, I didn't want it to be over. And yet, this adventure has come to an end.
I could have slept in, but it was getting light and I had eight miles to go to get to the lodge at Manning Park. The trail climbed 1,000 feet. Unfortunately, the trail was in poor condition with lots of trees across the trail and steep slippery slopes. It was unusually dark in the forest, so I decided to play music, both to pass the time and to alert other creatures of my presence.
The weather is turning this morning. Several times there were rain showers; just enough to wet the bushes. As the rain showers fell, the sun peeked through for just a moment and created an amazing rainbow pointing to the northern terminus. What an appropriate ending message from Mother Nature!
For the first time on this hike, I used my umbrella. I was rather awkward trying to maneuver with both hands full. The umbrella is one item I probably would not carry again.
I arrived at the lodge at 8:30. There were no rooms at the lodge, but I got one at the hostel. The room is tiny, and shares a bathroom with five other rooms. There is no phone service here and no way to contact my wife to let her know where I am.
I got a vegetarian omelette at the restaurant and then decided to wait for my wife in the lodge.
"More Cowbell" stayed at the hostel last night, so I got to visit with him one last time. He left on the bus headed to Vancouver.
I had a Wi-Fi connection at the lodge, so I posted my successful ending on Facebook. I immediately got many congratulatory messages. A few other hikers showed up throughout the day, but none I knew.
My wife arrived in the early evening and I discovered that she had reserved a cabin! The manager at the lodge was gracious enough to refund my money on the room at the hostel.
We had a wonderful dinner at the Pinewoods restaurant. Because I was a PCT hiker, we both got a free drink. For dessert we enjoyed chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream!
It was odd this evening as I took a shower and removed the protective tape from my toes. I won't be needing it anymore. The same was true for my toiletry supplies and my drinking water.
I read on Facebook that a lot of hikers are quitting the trail at Stevens Pass. There are just too many wildfires and uncertainty. I feel lucky to have been able to hike the north cascades and to see the PCT northern terminus.
Manning Park is beautiful, but I am ready to head home and begin a new adventure. I am interested in becoming a trail angel. I want to pay back a little kindness that was shown to me.
But first I need rest and according to my wife, to put some meat back on my bones!