a journey of 2,652 miles
THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL
starts with a single step.
Miles 1345.8 to 1366.3 (20.5 Miles) Last PCT camp to Belden
We wake up bright and early at 6am on our last day on the PCT and are already the last hikers to leave camp. Haha. But I guess the other hikers have a couple more miles ahead of them while we are left with just around 20 miles. We are very motivated to hike today as it's all downhill and we are generally very excited to reach our final destination .
Today's agenda; 3 miles down, 3 miles up, 14 miles down. Cool beer and burgers in Belden followed by showers and laundry.
We are really fast today and take our breakfast break after 6 miles on our very last high point of the PCT. Today's breakfast: Cold couscous from last night with mushroom massala. It's, well, absolutely and utterly disgusting. How can some hikers always cold soak?? Anyways, we can barely eat it, but need the energy and don't have anything else. We literally have no more food left. During breakfast a NOBO hiker called "Homemade" from New Zealand comes over to talk to us. She tells us that she's hiked through the Sierras by herself this year, wow, that's insane, what an accomplishment!!! She's also got a youtube vlog which you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkyqMfO5DfRXUW3bq15CAzw. The link to the specific episode is: https://youtu.be/u3bgvdrYtQM.
She congratulates us on being almost done and asks if she can record us for one of her youtube videos. So we might actually appear in one of the videos in the above link.
And then we start our last descent. 14 steep miles down to Belden. It takes forever! First there is still a lot of snow and then there are what feels like hundreds of creek and river crossings, some of them are really sketchy, with thin snow bridges on top of them. At one point we have to take off our shoes and wade through a raging river. It is a bit scary, but all goes well, and the feet feel clean and refreshed after.
After some hours we start to get really hungry, but all we can do is increase our pace and get to Belden quickly. Eventually we leave the forest and are now hiking switchbacks on sloping grounds with the sun batting down on us. It is really hot today!
And then, eventually, we are down to 3 miles. 3 more PCT miles. It is a bit emotional. On the one hand we are ready to come home after having spent 15 months traveling, but on the other hand 5 weeks on the PCT just aren't enough. We've come to love this way of life and we know that we won't keep living our life like this for now. We are okay with that, but also feeling nostalgic. We already had to leave the PCT once and that was hard. What will it be like the second time round? Hopefully we will get some closure by having come back to complete our thruhike.
Then comes the Feather River. Then Belden around the corner. And finally, here we are. We made it. We pieced the puzzle pieces together, we filled in the gaps, we finished what we started last year in May. We are now standing at the exact same spot where we left the trail last August to hitch up north. It's done.
Now let's have a shower and do laundry. But first, food! We head on over to the restaurant where we are instantly invited to a first round of beers by some random strangers sitting at the next table. They saw us as we hiked down into town and when we tell them that we actually just completed our thruhike here in Belden they are ecstatic. We order a BLTA sandwich and burger and sit there for about 2 hours, just taking it all in.
Belden is a festival town. There was a festival here last year when we were here and now there is a festival again. It's already really loud, the music blaring in our ears. That's why we decide to sleep at the Caribou Crossroads instead, another very hiker-friendly place about 1.2 miles up the highway. The hitch is very easy and 5 minutes later we are already there. Tomorrow we will travel to San Francisco where we will be staying with a friend from my former work place. And we cannot appear dirty and smelly. That's why now we take a shower and then do our laundry.
Milkshakes are supposedly really good here, so we order a blackberry milkshade, which is delicious, and then set up our tent next to a French Canadian couple. We also got some cardboard and a marker pen from the store to create a big hitchhiking sign. We hope to reach San Francisco as soon as possible and in time for some potential 4th of July celebrations.
We then lie down in our tent for the very last time and settle in for a last night under the stars. We don't quite grasp that this PCT adventure is over now. For the last two years of our lives we planned, prepared for, then hiked this hike. While backpacking in South America and discovering Australia we dreamt of coming back to the States to complete our thruhike. Now it’s done. And with that it's time to chase a new dream. At home, for now. :-)