After reaching the Canadian border on day 151 of our Pacific Crest Trail hike, we continued on 7 miles to Manning Provincial Park. We got there just in time for a celebratory dinner, and decided to stay two nights to take advantage of the natatorium (complete with sauna, jacuzzis, and pool) and rest-up a bit before heading to Vancouver, the biggest city we’ve been in since San Diego at the beginning of our trip. We also needed some time to figure out how we were getting to Vancouver. There was a bus, but it left at 1am (we had read elsewhere that it left at 10am); and even though we’d hiked so many miles, you’d think we could deal with waking-up super early to catch a bus to civilization, neither of us was really feeling it. We thought if we waited around a day, we might get lucky and score a ride from another hiker- but most everyone was in the same boat. Many people were hitching to Vancouver, about a 2.5hr drive away. We were a bit nervous about the prospect, but were assured by many that it was an easy hitch as there were only two highways involved (and that hitchhiking is practically a national past-time in Canada). So came that the two of us, who had planned all of our town stops on the PCT based on having to hitch the least amount possible, found ourselves thumbs out walking out of the Manning Park parking lot. It was supposed to rain that day, which further increased our uncertainty as to how this was better than the bus, but Canadians are known for being friendly, right?
That is EXACTLY what they are! We made a sign, and only had to walk a few steps out of the parking lot to be picked-up by a man who said he could take us to the intersection of the two highways we needed to travel. It was about a 40 minute ride, and no sooner than we got in the car that a torrential downpour started. By the time he deposited us at the highway overpass the rain had stopped, but more looked like it was on the way. We hopped out and debated if we should stand under the pass to avoid rain, but it wasn’t a great place for cars to pull over. So we walked a bit to what looked like a good (yet exposed to rain) area and put our sign and thumbs out. It took about 20 minutes, but sure enough another truck pulled over and the man driving offered to take us to Surrey within about 10 miles of Vancouver. There was a city bus stop there, that could get us into the city if we couldn’t get another hitch all the way in. Soon after we hopped in the truck it began to rain, and continued for the majority of the two hour ride. We had a great conversation, and Vancouver kept getting closer and closer until we were there! To our surprise, he decided to go out of his way and take us all the way in to Vancouver, within a couple of miles of downtown where our hotel was. He even offered to give us bus money, since we didn’t have any Canadian currency. It was so nice and unexpected, and completely made our week (which is saying something in a week that you also finish the PCT!). While we could have walked the last few miles, with the rain (which had miraculously stopped again!), and you know- all the walking that had come before, it was nice not to. We relied on the kindness of a passerby to help us figure out which bus to get on, and before we knew it we were at the hotel in plenty of time to wash up, go on a mini-shopping spree to get a set of town clothes, and go out to dinner.
A few days later we caught the BoltBus down to Seattle to visit my cousin and his lovely family. I showed Garrett around Seattle, where I had lived for a summer in college, and then we were on a plane to Pittsburgh. From there we drove down to Florida, stopping to visit friends and family along the way, and then it was up to Rhode Island for more family time, before finally returning back to Maine. It felt like a grand victory lap! We did some much needed housework, and took the time to enjoy the holidays with our families. And all the sudden it is 2017!
A few weeks before we finished the PCT, I looked at Garrett and said, “Well, you’re right- now we definitely have to hike the Appalachian Trail. We should do it next season.” We had been debating all trip if we were going to do another long trail the following spring and summer. There are three in the US; the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. If a person completes all three, it is considered a hiking Triple Crown. I told him that if we did another trail, we should to the CDT- so that he could triple crown, since he hiked the AT in 2011. Even though I hadn’t hiked the AT, I’ve hiked from Mt. Greylock, MA to Gorham, NH (about 300 miles), along with a few day hikes on the AT in Maine and Virginia. I’ve also been fortunately enough to live along the AT in both New Hampshire and Maine working for the AMC. Plus, it was more important to me that he would get a chance to fulfill his dream of hiking all three.
While hiking the PCT, I could see taking the year to travel and hike another long trail, but taking two years off to do it seemed a bit of a stretch. He told me that he would rather us triple-crown together, whenever that may be, than him to earn that title without me. We took a few weeks to think about it once we returned to Maine, but I think we both knew in our hearts that we were headed towards the AT this coming spring. Once we committed to the AT, to fill our time between now and then, we plotted a road trip to visit some National Forests & National Parks in the southern part of the country. If all goes to plan, we’ll add 8 new parks to our lists, I’ll see a few states I’ve never been to, and we’ll of course be blogging about our adventures! Oh, and while we’ve been back, I’ve done a few blog updates. In the menu bar you can now read about our PCT trip from the beginning by clicking on the “Pacific Crest Trail” link. Also, the recipe part of this site (which admittedly has taken a back burner to hiking, pun intended) also has a new link in the menu if you’re interested. Finally, I’ve added a “contact” link in the menu as well. Expect another post soon, explaining the difference between packing for a thru-hike and a car trip (obvious hint, the difference is HUGE!).