One hundred and forty six days.
It bugs me deeper than I want to admit that it’s not a round number. It’s not a ‘neat’ number. It’s not pretty, tied up in a bow, divisible by ten or rounded to the nearest five.
I mean, it could have been.
We could have got here yesterday if we hadn’t camped with Thibaud and Flaming Hot and Scoop the other day. The number would have felt better in my mind: 1 4 5 . Ahhhh. Yes. But my heart wouldn’t have been happy having trudged in ahead just to get a more ‘acceptable’ number.
And that’s been the theme for me all along, hasn’t it?
Wanting to have a nice neat continuous footpath between the Mexican border and the Canadian one. To be able to say, “Back in 2018, I thru-hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail!”. Having to fight the admission that I spent ‘too much time’ in Bishop, and in the Sierra, and ‘too many zeroes’ with my friends, and ‘too long’ sitting in front of campfires with a pack of cards, a plastic bottle of wine and the beat of company, and now had to finish the trip off early.
None of it can be tied neatly with a bow.
None of it could have been done better, either.
Even if I could, I would change none of it.
Except, maybe, to eat a little less sugar and a little more protein, but even that I don’t totally regret 😉
Here’s my last trail marker (I think!) and a selfie to go with it:
Here’s my last meal – I saved my favourite especially! Idahoan potatoes and tuna:
I’m going to miss these woods.
But I’ll be back one day, I know it.
The last of the path was scattered with the CRUNCHIEST leaves I’ve walked on almost EVER. It deadset felt like a goodbye treat straight from the trail to my soul.
I called the Prodigal. It felt fitting, talking to him during my last mile, when I started off with him an unorderly hundred and forty six days ago.
It was good to talk to him too, but I didn’t spend too long.
My heart raced.
My palms got clammy.
I didn’t know whether to slow down, or to run ahead.
And just like that, it didn’t matter anymore:
We were crossing the bridge.
I was taking my last steps.
And a familiar face was waiting at the other end.
Nemo tried to get a photo, but I had already ran up and whipped my hat and bag off too quickly, and it was his turn for a hug straight after the girls.
The Prodigal had returned, to cheer us on, congratulate our feat, and celebrate with mimosas there and then.
All those mixed up, tumultuous mess of feelings came out in a soggy patch on his shoulder as he hugged me and I cried out a hundred different things I guess I’ll sift through in the days and weeks to come.
We spent hours at the Cascade Locks Ale House, befriended the beautiful owner Julie, sang along to the radio, had our whole bill paid for by a couple who had been watching us celebrate, and basked in the glory of our shared journey.
We stopped on our way into Portland to catch the sunset, and made a poor kid trying to have a romantic moment with his ‘good female friend’ take a dozen pictures of us to mark the occasion…
You know what else?
We stopped at a late night mall to try and find some town clothes, to keep this time.
And we found an ice rink.
Of course we had a go.
Turns out walking just twenty six hundred kilometres doesn’t translate to ice skating, but I have it a good hard crack anyway.
I’ve been so caught up in the ‘end’, I guess I forgot that this is also a new beginning.
There is a world of possibility ahead of me.
And it’s looking pretty good so far.