Day 73: A Friend from the Real World!

So far, everybody I’ve spent time with out here has been other PCT hikers. But that changed today, when my good friend Peter — from back in the “real world” (or maybe just the “alternate world”) — came out to meet us. It’s been truly wonderful to have his company on the trail (along with his friend, Rich) as we hiked along today…and even more impressive that they managed to find us way out in the wilderness.

It’s not like we didn’t plan for all of this; we’d talked about meeting up somewhere out here for months. But there’s very limited communication out here on the trail, particularly here in the Sierras where there can be no cell phone service for weeks and trail stops may not really have any Internet access of our own. Still, we managed to just barely connect when I was at VVR, and heard from him that he’d be starting at Red’s Meadow — a trail stop/”resort” just a couple of days north from VVR — and heading south to meet us.

Of course, that still meant we really had no idea where, exactly, he’d meet us…just that it’d be on the trail, somewhere. So as we hiked along this morning, as the trail slowly curved past Lake Virginia, when I noticed a couple of guys sitting off the trail without packs, I actually didn’t put two and two together at first. Then I heard an “Andrew!”…and it was them! It’s a bizarre and wonderful experience to see someone you know from a completely different context (i.e., “real life”) out here on the trail. Hugs and much talking ensued as we reconnected and talked about how things had been.

We had much more time than that, though, as Peter and Rich hiked with us for the rest of the day (and will do so again tomorrow, too!). The trail itself wound around beautiful alpine lakes this morning — Lake Virginia, Purple Lake — and then slowly started a very long descent into Red’s Meadow. Good company and the prospect of good food kept us going, and we actually pulled off a nineteen-and-a-half mile day, which is a very long day for the Sierras. Just as before, as we head north, the trail is getting a gentler kind of beauty, with amazing vistas of far-off peaks, waterfalls, rivers, and increasingly green plants everywhere. It also means some gentler hiking, which we — and particularly our feet and legs — hugely appreciate.

We crossed yet another milestone today: we’ve hiked 900 miles of the PCT since leaving the Mexican border over two months ago. The number often doesn’t even seem real…nine hundred miles is so far that it’s the kind of distance you drive in a car over multiple days, or fly in an airplane. It’s also exciting to know that the next milestone will be a thousand miles, which is yet another level of incomprehensibility.

We’re in Red’s Meadow tonight, camped at the campground adjacent to the “resort”. For us, the resort is a chance for a real meal in a restaurant, like the giant burgers we had this evening, as well as amazing things like running water and toilets that actually flush. It almost feels too soon after VVR for things like this, as it’s only been a couple of days, but then we also know we have a long stretch coming up without such things — so it’s well-deserved.

We’re looking forward to the next few days, too. We have an enforced schedule for getting to Tuolumne Meadows, our next stop, because our resupply package is at the Post Office there…and the Post Office, of course, isn’t open on Sunday. This means there’s no point in getting there before Monday morning, which means it’d be silly to do very long days. So our long day today parlays into shorter days for the next couple of days, which is a welcome relief indeed. Hurrah! Onwards we come.

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