Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I did it!

That's right, September 25 at about 10:30am, I reached Canada! 5 months, 2,656 miles, and 6 million steps from when I left Campo on April 23. What an amazing feeling that was to stand at the northern border of the US, after walking across the country all the way from the southern border. Even the rain that pounded down on me that entire day, could not dampen the excitement and success that I felt. Over 5 months, I've experienced pain, sweat, tears, blood, fear, loneliness, cold, hot, thirst, hunger, and exhaustion. However, the good will always out-weigh the bad and I have no regrets about the trip; I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

So I left the Dinsmores near Skykomish, with Jimbrick, Wiz, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, I lost Cricket when he left, due to the fact that I wanted to let my shin splints heal up a bit. Cricket did achieve his goal of hitting the border on September 24, so he could make it to school on the 27. Congrats man, wish I could have been there with ya! Anyways, I hiked with those three from Stevens Pass all the way to Stehekin. We had a great time together as we wandered through some of the most rugged terrain on the entire trip, Glacier Peak Wilderness. It was beautiful and fortunately it only rained on us about half the time ha! That's good luck, for Washington anyways! My shins also felt great the entire way and never gave me any more problems. Despite the wet weather, this made the rest of the trip much more enjoyable.

When the four of us got to Stehekin, I decided to get my resupply box and get right back on trail. I was aching to get this last stretch done as quickly as possible and go home to see my friends and family. Jimbrick, Wiz, and Buttercup wanted to stay in town for a bit, so I hit the trail alone once again. The weather continued to worsen over the next few days, as I began pushing big 30+ mile days to get to the border. The north Cascades up above Rainy Pass blew me away with stunning beauty and sheer ruggedness. I set myself up to hit the northern terminus on the morning of the 23rd and passed Balls and Sunshine that morning as they returned from the border to Harts Pass. I got to the border, spent some time celebrating (alone unfortunately), and began the 30 mile trek back to Harts Pass myself. I camped that night with about 14 miles left to do in the morning, to Harts Pass where I would hitch down to Mazama or Winthrop to call my dad for a ride. I never saw it coming as I went to bed that last night, too excited to think about what might go wrong...

That night it got very cold, one of the coldest nights I'd had on the entire trail. It rained all night, up until morning when I awoke very excited that I did not hear the pitter-patter of the water hitting my tent. But when I opened my tent, I found the rain hadn't stopped, it had just turned to snow! I gathered my stuff up very quickly and began the journey back to Harts Pass. As I climbed higher towards the pass, the snow came down harder, and began to accumulate more and more on the ground. When I finally arrived at Harts Pass later that morning, there was already 3 inches of snow on the ground and it continued to pound down hard. 2 days prior, I had passed through the area and seen 50+ cars there with people camping, hunting, and hiking. That morning however, there was no one.

I freaked out. I'd expected it to be an easy hitch from Harts Pass down to the highway. I certainly didn't expect it to be snow covered and deserted! Everything I had was soaked from the days of rain and now I was cold and shaking and very alone in a near whiteout. I did not have enough food to hike down to the highway and I was not prepared for conditions this cold and brutal. I found the outhouse and cowered inside to escape the elements. I broke down in the bathroom as I shivered and contemplated what I would do. I really had no idea, I just wanted to go home so bad! 2 1/2 hours passed as I sat helpless in the outhouse, when I heard the sound of an engine. I ran out of the bathroom, waving my arms in the air as a truck crawled up through the snow on its way down the mountain. 4 older gentlemen sat inside and I asked if I could possibly get a ride to the highway, the town, anywhere where I could make a phone call. They generously made room for me and I was saved! These 4 men had been up looking at old rusty mining equipment when they'd realized this was the not the day to be up there and decided to turn around. I truly think this was a god-send and someone was definitely watching over me, as we passed no one else on the way down the long, winding forest road. Carl, the driver, invited me back to his house in Winthrop where his wife Roxy fed us, laundered my clothes, and provided a hot shower as I waited for my dad to pick me up. Even though this was their first time bringing a hiker home, Carl and Roxy are true angels that were there for me during one of the toughest times on my entire trip. I am so grateful to them!

So here I sit at home, in a chair, with a roof, freshly showered, full of good food, and a television making noise in the background. As much as I love all these luxuries, I must admit that I miss it already. The trail was my home for 5 months and the thru-hikers were my family. I had the most amazing time on this trip, I can't even begin to find the words to explain my experiences. Keep following, as I have a wealth of photos still to get posted on here and in the next week or two I will be working on a sort of post-trip closing post. I have a lot of things I'd like to say about my adventures, the places I've been, the conditions I traveled in, the people I met, the help I received, and hopefully some great advice to the thru-hikers of the future. Thanks for following everyone, I love you all! -HeadBanger


  1. Cody,
    We're all so thankful that you're back in home territory! Thank God for the new friends who took you to their home in Winthrop and let you clean up there! We're looking forward to seeing you at Cassie and Josh's wedding!

    God bless you! Love, Gramma Anne

  2. Hey Banger! :)
    Many many congrats on your completion of the trail... let the journey continue! I'm enjoying your blog, and love hearing the different perspectives of everyone. It seems as though it is clear that is does, but hope the hike holds a place in your heart always. Thanks for being a stellar companion of Holden's while you were hiking together :o)
    Best wishes, Becky

  3. Dear Cody,
    I congratulate, cheer and applaud you on your impressive victory!! I am genuinely delighted for you. I’m a true believer with your incident and the last trail angels; they were absolutely God sent just for you.
    Cody, I am relieved you are home safe with the abundance of love from your family and friends. Rest well and I wish you a speedy recovery.
    Of note, HappyWhale is expected to finish either this Saturday or Sunday. His sisters and I will be waiting for him in Manning Park. I can’t wait to hug him tightly and then finally have a good night’s sleep. It’s been awhile I slept well (almost 6 months).
    I would like to share my personal favorite quote of all time, which you and all of the other PCT hikers have proven to be true: “All the wonders you seek are within yourself” ~Sir Thomas Brown.
    So, my question for you- Do you still consider yourself to be leisurely lost, a wanderer and a dreamer?

    ~Mama HappyWhale

  4. Headbanger,

    Wow, you had an epic finish and I am glad it ended safely, warmly and in good hands in the friendly Methow Valley. It was pleasure to meet you and host you in Seattle along with Cricket! Boo