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Day 133 – August 14, 2022

Mile 2606.9 (Golden Creek) to 2628.8

21.9 trail miles | 21.9 tracked miles | 4,377 ft elevation gain | 73.4 F / 23 °C

Today was just another day in paradise. This section is a stunning grand finale that makes me forget all the pain I’ve endured in the past four months!

Superb scenery, perfect weather, and a smooth trail (except for a few miles this morning) were the hallmarks of this perfect day.

Before lunch, I hiked 15 miles and ascended 2,600 feet through Glacier Pass, Grasshopper Pass, and Harts Pass.

Between Glacier Pass and Grasshopper Pass
Grasshopper Pass

The scenery alternated between lush and bare, showcasing the forces of nature. I hiked through sculpted green valleys, narrow ridges, and dramatic monochrome avalanche fields.

This section would not be a great winter hike.
Tatie Peak

The trail offered extraordinary views of the North Cascades range, with mountain peaks as far as the eye can see. The rugged terrain bears witness to the harsh winter conditions that make the area incredibly scenic in the summer.

Eventually, a primitive road appeared in the distance, signaling my arrival at Harts Pass.

Arriving at Hearts Pass: the first signs of civilization since leaving Rainy Pass

The rough dirt road that leads to Harts Pass is the northernmost access point to the Pacific Crest Trail. The next road is located well inside Canada, at Manning Park, BC, 8 miles beyond the terminus of the PCT (which is situated at the border.)

Given the lingering border closure, Harts Pass will be my final destination. I will return to Harts Pass after reaching Canada, thus adding 30 miles to my journey.

The Harts Pass area is equipped with a USFS campground, picnic tables, pit toilets, and bear boxes. Some hikers drop off gear and food that they won’t need for the final stretch to and from Canada in an effort to cut weight, but in an overabundance of caution, I decided to keep everything.

The Harts Pass USFS campground and trailhead

North of Harts Pass, the views kept getting bigger and better. The next five miles were just pure bliss. I’d let pictures speak for themselves, but I realize that photos can’t do justice to these wonders of nature. Scroll down for panoramas!

Near Slate Peak

Today was one of the happiest days of my life. Carried by the sweet foretaste of success and lifted by a sense of unbounded potential, I cruised through awe-inspiring scenery with renewed vigor and enthusiasm. The feelings of gratitude, the exuberance at the realization that my gamble is about to pay off, and the onset of nascent nostalgia are colliding inside my mind, taking over my entire being, and forming a potent, euphoric elixir.

Washington Section L is a true gem and one of the most noteworthy—yet perhaps underrated—highlights of the Pacific Crest Trail, in my opinion. Many hikers rush through this stretch in September, racing against the clock as the first snow flakes hit the ground. I am fortunate to be able to witness the glorious landscapes at their prime.

I will certainly hike this section again in the future, though I can’t help but wonder how brutal it might feel without the strength acquired over 2,600 miles!

Buffalo Pass

I set up camp for the night near mile 2628.8, where I found a sweet private campsite with a stream. My only concern is the visible presence of rodents and critters… Hopefully, I won’t have any unwanted overnight guests!

Backcountry camping near mile 2628.8

With less than 25 miles separating me from the border, I could easily reach Canada tomorrow. However, since I cannot cross the border, I need to account for the fact that I will have to turn around, climb back 7,000 feet, and then camp overnight as I return to Harts Pass. With this in mind, I am planning on camping 6 miles short of the border at the northernmost lake tomorrow. Then, I will slackpack to the border on the following day, prior to eventually returning to Harts Pass in three days.

That’s two days until I reach my goal, and three days until the adventure is over. It’s pretty surreal.

Distance to Canada: 24.8 miles

The Big Picture

3D path
3D video

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