Windy Pass certainly is as it says in the tin. The wind howled all night, but our spot was sheltered below the trees allowing for a solid sleep for our penultimate night. An overcast sky greeted us as we began our last full day on trail. Wisps of cloud floated above the Northern Cascades and its foot hill forests. This sight brought tears to my eyes, how could we be leaving such beauty after living amongst it for 6 months? Burn area, forest and meadows followed as we descended and climbed to a decent spot for lunch. Golden grasses filled the mountain bowl we sat within and during our break the most cowboy scene unveiled before us as a train of horse and mule were lead across the meadow.
We summited the climb, wound down its opposing slope past scree fall and cut our way back up towards the bowls shoulder. Here, among the blueberry shrubs, we saw our 8th and last Black Bear only 50 or so ft away. It was not bothered by our presence at all, occasionally looking up towards us, giving the air a sniff, before digging into the sweet berries once more. We stared at his/her beautiful glossy form for nearly an hour before continuing on to our final pass.
We were now sure that among the large, gnarled, dark figures of the Cascades around us were those of Canadian peaks and from the summit of the PCTs last climb we were staring into the valleys within which the monument dwelt. It was a surreal feeling knowing that the goal you have been pursing for so long, now lay less than 10 miles away. Still, we were determined to enjoy the moment the following morning and thus set up camp 3 miles from the border.
It was a popular spot for like minded hikers, all pumped and nervous for what ultimatum of the following day. Will, the fireman, worked his magic once more and it was around the flames that we mused over the past months, lessons we had learned, mentalities we’d bring home and the aspects we’d greatly miss. A sprinkle of rain in the air marked the end of the evening before the night rains came. Huddled in our tents away from the cold air, the enormity of what we had achievers was slowly sinking in.