ages ago, i said it would be awesome if we could have some snow at the end of washington; lots of sunshine, then some snow right before we finished. on our second last day we walked ahead of (and through) mist and rain all day. then right as we were coming into camp, the rain turned to sleet, then slightly unconvincing snow. that night i checked with buttercup whether he thought it was actual snow, and when he said yes, i said 'that's perfect'... buttercup replied really sardonically: 'yeh, perfect.... what's wrong with you jimbrick?' (that day we passed headbanger coming back from the border, great to see him finished, but sad we weren't going to finish with him - he was returning to an earlier pass - he's a washington boy)
wiz, buttercup, pounder and i had a fire with sodden timber and huddled under a tree for a cheery dinner, then retired to our tents pretty early. it was only the third time i'd used my tent in washington (although the night before i was a lazy tomfool and slept with my tent pulled over me like a quilt after it started to rain after i'd gone to bed...)... anyway, in the morning, there was a light dusting of snow on the ground... as we packed up (and had a morning fire for coffee), it started snowing again.
the snow grew heavier and heavier as we climbed, and by the time we were a few miles out of camp it was swirling around us in the fierce wind. it was so cool - kind of blizzardy. buttercup and pounder were a few metres ahead, and they would disappear into the white. i kept thinking a rabbit was going to run by saying 'get out of this you fool, get out!', like in wind in the willows (not that it's snowing at that point). it felt incredibly epic. initially i was so excited when i thought it was 2cm deep, but by the time we were over the pass it was 20cm in places.
it was, however, seriously cold. by the time we'd dropped over the other side we were all losing the feeling in our feet, and our fingers were useless painful stumps. it was 15 miles (24kms) to the border, then 8 miles (12kms) to manning park, canada (and a roof). we all envisaged taking a whole lot of time at the border: cooking lunch, writing longish entries in the register, taking a whole series of photos, drinking a celebratory beer (which we'd knocked on a random stranger's door in stehekin to procure because we'd forgotten to get some) and generally making it a significant end to a 4270km walk through the woods, but we were so cold when we got there we couldn't even handle our wet cameras properly.
we were about to leave, when buttercup, who'd been low on snacks for days (too ultralight that boy), dug out a surprisingly heavy bag with a treat for each of us (and a little story to go with it). we rapidly ate those, and shared wiz and buttercup's beers (mine was buried beyond my retarded fingers), and made haste for manning park.
it was the best feeling, turning up there, knowing we'd be dry and warm. but surreal, slightly bewildering and sad as well - knowing that it was all over; a chapter closed, and that even while walking through the doors this life wandering through the american wilderness was already a memory - an experience of the past.