The Pacific Crest Trail
Manning Park, British Columbia, Canada
Manning Park was a bit confusing. They have moved the trailhead to a completely different location on a different road a couple of miles from the former trailhead. Fortunately there was a map at the trailhead that told us we should turn right instead of left to get to the lodge. Trouble was, Cheryl was waiting for Sly at the old trailhead. Since we were a day early, thanks to yesterday’s big miles, we didn’t expect her to be there, so we went for a late lunch, and then checked in at the lodge. Sly had planned to meet Cheryl at a nearby campground, but it was closed for the season. What to do? He left his pack with us and walked down the road to find her. I know she will be very glad to stop spending her days waiting for him at trailheads. They took off for a motel in a nearby town, while Jim and I settled in for hot baths and laundry at the lodge.
Now comes the question of where we go from here, both long term and short term. We’ll need time to make sense of the past two years. In many ways, the PCT was a disappointment –too civilized, too crowded, too easy, and too much pushing for miles. And yet, I’m not sorry we hiked it. I’m really not sure whether the problems we had with the trail came from the trail itself or just within ourselves. Would our reactions have been different if we’d had more time to recover from the physical stresses of last year? I’m sure that if we had spent a year or two in the city, we would have been more appreciative of the beauty to be found even in trail winding endlessly through dense forest and chaparral. We would have made fewer comparisons with the CDT, if it hadn’t been so fresh in our minds. I’m really glad that, despite some disillusion, we finished the trail. I think it was worth the time, effort, and pain. Time hiking is never wasted. Being on the trail is coming home for me. I am happiest when walking through the woods and climbing mountains, even on the really difficult days. There was a lot of beauty along the way, and many really good moments of enjoying nature in myriad forms. The CDT was a better experience for us, but I’m still glad we came to the PCT to see it for ourselves. Once again, we “went to see the elephant,” and though we didn’t find what we expected, what we found was good.