Today we went from movie stars (sort of) to the Painted Desert. We spent the night at the El Rancho Hotel and Motel in Gallup, which claims many movie stars have lodged there while filming in the nearby desert. We stayed in the less expensive motel, but enjoyed our stay. We stopped for much of the day in Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert and then continued on to Holbrook.
Departing Santa Rosa, Route 66 was mostly covered over by Interstate Highway 40 for the next 75 miles. This made for quick travel but not as interesting as yesterday’s smaller roads. Then we traveled through the sprawl of Albuquerque for quite some time. Finally, in the afternoon we made it to very scenic Laguna Pueblo Land and then on to Gallup.
We started our journey along historic Route 66 today heading west toward California. Route 66 roughly parallels Interstate Highway 40 and we seldom traveled more than a few miles from the Interstate. When the Interstate highway came through, towns and businesses not fortunate enough to have convenient highway access withered and died.
There were boo coo sights today, ranging from painted fiberglass ponies to scary motel signs to colorful wall murals to museum-quality iron works such as, well, irons heated with coals or with gasoline. We also talked with interesting locals running the museums and shops, in some cases they were newly retired and beginning new projects to revive and keep alive Route 66.
Today we arrived in Amarillo, Texas late, just as the sun was setting and made a trip out to Cadillac Ranch, an unusual public art exhibit off historic Route 66 (now Interstate 40) west of Amarillo. Cadillac Ranch was commissioned by local millionaire Stanley Marsh 3 (yes, that’s 3 not III) in the 70’s.
Tomorrow we begin driving historic Route 66 back to California.
Day 174: September 23rd
Mile 2653.8 to Manning Park, BC
This morning I walked the final six miles to the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail at the Canadian border where I found Deb waiting for me. She had camped at the trail camp about 2/10 mile into Canada.
We celebrated briefly (along with a handful of other hikers who arrived at the same time), took a few photos, and drank a tiny bottle of Champagne that Deb carried in.
Deb and I then hiked eight miles to the Manning Park where we had a late lunch and checked into the lodge.
2,660 miles of continuous footsteps from the Mexican border to the Canadian border are done. The hike has been an amazing journey that I have thoroughly enjoyed.
Day 173: September 22nd
Mile 2635.9 to Mile 2653.8
Today was my last full day of hiking and I ended up camping just six miles south of the Canadian border.
I encountered a surprising number of hikers returning to Harts Pass (nearly 20) walking southbound back to Harts Pass after reaching the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Hikers sometimes choose not to go into Canada for various reasons, but instead just touch the border and go back south for 30 miles and exit at the first road.
Everyone was in a happy mood as most hikers were hiking fairly easy low mileage days through beautiful country with lovely fall colors. Everyone was congratulating each other as they had just completed the PCT or were about to the next day.
Day 172: September 21st
Mile 2617.6 to Mile 2635.9
Very pretty hiking today.
I arrived at Harts Pass around lunch time, where the staff at the Guard Station was very hiker-friendly. They had ice water for hikers and offered use of the staff trash cans.
I ended up camping with a large group of about 10 hikers camped tonight.
Day 171: September 20th
Mile 2599.6 (Rainy Pass) to Mile 2617.6
We spent last night in Mazama at Ravensong’s Roost. Deb drove me back to Rainy Pass after breakfast at the Mazama store. The store makes a good breakfast and was packed with a mix of old timers and rock climbers.
The hike was very scenic today mostly traversing the sides of high mountain ridges. Excellent weather. A joy to be hiking even though the end is near.