‘East Glacier, MT to Waterton, Canada’
I thought my last blog post for our final section was going to be easy to write and amazing. But in those final days everything got small. The monument seemed huge for so much of our hike, but then we were there. It was warm. We were with friends. The light was magical: orange and diffused through a haze of moisture. And then we were done. Everything slowly dissolved into a memory as we made our way back to the U.S., to the airport in Missoula, MT, and back home to sunny southern Arizona. Everything had been so vivid for so long and then it was like somebody turned out the lights and when I switched them back on I was home, like nothing had ever happened, like it was a story someone once told me.
I’ve restarted this post several times. All of them too lengthy, ramblings of: and then we did that, and then we saw that, and then he said… So instead, here’s the distilled version.
The story I remember about those final days goes like this… We left East Glacier and headed out into the snow. We spent our first night at the Two Medicine Campground. It was one of the coldest nights of the entire trail.
After that, we had four named passes to climb before reaching Canada: Pitamakin, Triple Divide, Piegan, and Swiftcurrent Pass. The first had the most snow and was plenty epic with the dramatic clouds and cold wind near the top. The next pass was Triple Divide, where the water flows in three directions: the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and Hudson Bay. This pass was easier than the last even though I got stuck where the alpine tree tops were poking up through the deep snow. Piegan pass had some snow and I was very happy that it did not have more. Swiftcurrent pass had no snow and I was ever so thankful for that. We saw our first grizzly bear. And now the weather was warm and beautiful.
We hiked and/or camped and/or hung out at the monument with several other thru-hikers: Ben, Dash, Gabriel, Marmot, Viking, Garret, Notsobad, Bobcat, Mismatch, and Spatula. That, perhaps more than anything made our last days special.
Our second to last night before Canada a deer walked through where we were watching the sunset. It looked at us, our eyes met, those eyes… I still see them, dark and penetrating. That was significant somehow for me. Though, I think really they just have bad eyesight and it was probably staring to discover our presence. Our last night before Canada I saw a shooting star. I took that as a sign that we were going to make it, and we did. That next day we made our way to the monument and celebrated with several other thru-hikers at the border.
We took a shuttle to the border crossing for cars. They asked a lot of questions and then finally said, “no way, I could never walk that far,” and then let us walk back into the U.S. We hitchhiked back to East Glacier and made our way to Missoula the next day. We stayed at the Motel 6 near the Missoula airport. The day after that we walked to the airport. Somehow, walking to the airport was meaningful for me… And that’s it, we flew home in less than a day, over areas that had taken more than five months for us to walk across.
So what’s next? Whoa! Lots of future plans, but really, that’s too big of a question for the immediate future.
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And… Thank you for being part of my journey.