Day 158: A Long-Awaited Reunion

We were trying to figure out today just how long it’d been since we’d seen our close trail friends Dilly and Dally. We’re both pretty sure that it was at Vermillion Valley Resort…which was officially 87 days and 1,516.10 miles ago. That’s a long time, no matter how you slice it, especially out here on the trail. But it’s also a sign of how close the trail can make you feel to someone that we’ve never stopped trying to meet up with them again, even when we weren’t sure where they were or knew we were far behind or ahead of them.

Only today, we know where they are, because they’re here! But they aren’t here because we happened to meet up with them again on the trail; they’re here because they decided to stop hiking, in far southern Washington, and be done with the PCT. This means they came here to meet us looking clean, in actual clothes, and just generally appearing shockingly non-hiker-like. It was awesome.

I can’t tell you how good it felt to see them when they showed up at our room late this afternoon. We easily spent an hour just catching up, telling them about all our adventures on the trail since we last saw them — and, even more interestingly, hearing about their experiences readjusting to “normal life”. These included things like how long it takes for your feet to stop hurting (answer: uncertain, since it’s been a week since they stopped hiking and their feet still hurt) or how your body re-adjusts (answer: you sleep a lot once your body realizes you really, truly aren’t going to start doing that crazy shit again).

We had dinner at the brewery/restaurant across the road with them, and with a couple of friends they’d met on the trail, Siesta and Jobs, who are both from San Francisco. It actually was almost a little wistful meeting them, because they seem like totally awesome people, and I wish we’d met them earlier. (Jobs is getting off-trail here, and Siesta is going to skip around a little at this point for various reasons, so we know we won’t meet them on the trail.) A couple more folks we met ages and ages ago, but didn’t know well — Halftime and Doubletime — showed up, too, and we got to all have dinner together. It’s great to be among a big group of hikers you know well, and the whole experience made me really happy…even if, yes, wistful, because I know I’m going to miss these times when this whole thing is over. And it’s going to be over soon.

Earlier in the day today, we also met Jessica, a friend of Bucket’s who lives near Seattle, and her husband, as they came out to have lunch with us. (A huge thanks to them — it was great to meet you both!) Not only was it fun to talk to people who aren’t also through-hikers, they brought with them a wide selection of doughnuts from a local doughnut shop. This means that, after lunch, we sat around on the restaurant’s patio and got to delve into all kinds of different delicious sugary, fatty goodness. Yum! (Also, I am really going to miss being able to do that sort of thing when I’m done with this trail.)

Our zero in Snoqualmie Pass has been, as you might imagine, both much-needed and hugely restorative. Honestly, at this point, I’d really need to take about three zeroes before I felt truly great about heading back out onto the trail again — but we’re so close to the end, and getting to Canada before the snows come is so important, that it makes a whole lot more sense just to press on and get to the border as soon as we can. So we’ll head out early-ish tomorrow and see what’s next for us!

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