The morning is overcast with a thick layer of clouds hanging on the mountaintops. As we walk, Cracker Jack says he can feel some trail magic in our future. Moments later, we encounter two day hikers.

“Are you thru hikers?” they excitedly ask us.


“We were hoping to run in to you! We have candy!”

They hold out a big bag of peanut butter cups, snickers, and M&M’s. I have a moratorium on eating “toys” but Cracker Jack dives in.

“Take more.”

We let the hikers know that our friends are just behind us and continue on our way, Cracker Jack with a slight sugar buzz.

I feel like I’ve hit a perfect moment. The mountains, the Larches, the weather, the excitement of nearing the border! The trail contours the hills and hiking is easy.



After lunch, we encounter another group of day hikers. They are also excited to encounter thru- hikers. They take our picture and cheer us on. Not too much later, we meet yet another couple of day hikers. They have beer and fancy sodas for us. It feels as if we’re running a marathon with an audience of encouraging fans! We love this!

That night, we camp 19 miles from the monument. We encounter Hornsby and a couple of other thru hikers. They reached the monument yesterday, turned around, and are hiking back to Hart’s Pass where they’ll hitch home or go wherever their next adventure takes them. Hornsby makes a fire and we share our last meal in the US together.