Mad Dash is On!

Day 171 – 9/28/15
Trail junction to road
Miles – 21.6
Total Miles – 2699.8 (PCT 2620.9)

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Our 6:00 morning wake up calls are now pitch black and very cold.  This morning, everything outside the tent was frozen including the ground.  We had a good bit of condensation on the tent but it turned into ice overnight.  We were able to shake off a lot of the frozen water after we took the tent down. The sun was just rising as we hiked out of camp. Since we are at the top of a pass, our path lead down into a valley. Of course the trail would have to be on the east side of the valley were it is in permanent shade.  It was frigid!  About 5 miles down the valley, we finally broke into the sun and we stopped to warm up and eat.  We finished three miles of down and then started the big up of the day, about 2,200′ in 5 miles.  The trail worked its way up a valley and then laboriously turned up the side of a mountain. We got to the top in about 2.5 hours. Not bad. For the rest of the day, the trail was a little easier. We meandered along ridges and worked our way up a few saddles. Finally we headed down to Harts Pass. Harts Pass is the last pass that has a road to it.  Some thru-hikers, who do not have visa papers to enter Canada from the PCT, have to hike back here from the boarder so they can get a ride out.  There are going to be a lot of people at Harts Pass tonight. We know this because The Kid said that 16 tents were setup where they camped last night and most were heading to Harts. The weather we are having right now is perfect.  There is not a cloud visible in any direction.  However, this will not last long. The next storm is coming in Friday and with the cold temperatures we are experiencing, it most likely will snow.  A mad dash to the Canadian border is on for the thru-hikers.  We wanted to avoid the crowd of people at Harts Pass, so we hiked on a bit further.  Not as far as I would have liked, but the sun sets so early now, about 6:50, that we stopped because of no more light and it was really getting cold.  I suppose if we were hardier hikers, we could have hiked by the light of the full moon but it was just plain freezing!  Despite the cold, we did hear two hikers pass by our tent around 9:00 pm.  Our light was on, and they yelled over to us “good evening hikers” and then they were gone. I am sure they were on a mission to reach Canada as soon as possible!  We are camped on a small level area just beyond a trailhead parking area.  We will make it to the Monument 78 the day after tomorrow. This is the point at which the PCT crosses the Canadian boarder. It is called Monument 78 because it crosses the boarder seventy-eight miles from the ocean.  It has the same wooden monument that was at the Mexican boarder at the southern terminus of the PCT.  The high spirits of all the hikers, so close to the end of their journeys, is vibrating strongly up and down the last few remaining miles of the trail.  Everyone is so excited and happy!

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