Miles: 4
Camping: PCT mile 1096.36

We had every intention of getting an early start today. Every intention. The first wrench in the plan was that our room was stuffy hot all night even with the windows open. I took a shower and slept quite unmodestly in my underwear, and was still kept on the verge of awake by the thick air. I heard one of the guys get up to use the bathroom and my sleepy brain panicked, there’s was no way it was time to wake up. I’m not ready. How is the room so much stuffier tonight with 2 less bodies in it? How come I can’t simply sleep through the mini greenouse effect in our room? The last few days wiped me out, I should be able to sleep through a monsoon, but I can’t. I just can’t. Whoever got up went back to bed, and I welcomed the opportunity to stay laying there, eyes closed against the world.

Real morning came, the sun shining through a crack in the curtain (which is really a blanket). I opened my eyes, feeling groggy. I knew Blisster was awake, but I wasn’t ready to be social so I feigned sleep until I could feel the cobwebs start unsticking from my skull. Getting up was a chore but I really wanted to get back to the trail more than I wanted to lay in bed all day. Hiking cures all that ails me, and I had had enough of the town experience. CrackerJack was still laying there while Blisster and I began packing our bags and I was feeling like I was moving through molasses. We opted to grab breakfast, and then face the day. The cafe was not as bustling as yesterday but the food was still delicious. We sat in a booth sleepily sharing stories and sipping coffee after we had eaten. Each half hour that passed made the day seem less and less like a hiking day, but we will not be held in town another day. We will make our escape…after this cup of coffee. Then the waitress offered us refills,and we accepted, not even pretending to try and leave.

Back at the hostel, we hit the accelerator and got packed. Tin Tin was planning to join us, and the longer we waited, the more difficult the hitch with 4 people. We took the bus to the post office and mailed away various things to various places, and then walked to a deli for sandwiches we could take on trail. There, we ran into Rock Ocean, a trail angel who drives up the trail giving rides in his VW bus. He agreed to drop us back at the trail, which was perfect. No hitching today! The ride seemed shorter than 3 days ago, and we were back on trail by noon. It looked like we could do 10 miles after all which made me happy, even if I was feeling lethargic.

Rock Ocean dropped us off a half mile before the point where we had gotten off trail, so we had to repeat that small bit. It was an easy section, and we were a mere 1.5 miles from Echo Lake. The elevation profile looked benign, so we felt pretty good about meeting our goals. Once to Echo Lake, we were already quite sweaty from the humid day, and we ran into Biscuit, Dayglo and Testament. I hadn’t seen any of them since Kennedy Meadows, so it was a happy reunion. They were headed into Tahoe though, as we were hiking out. Sometimes i feel like I’m passing certain friends like ships in the night, missing them when they are so close. It’s great to see them though, they make me happy, even if it’s a quick hug.

After ice cream cones at the Echo Lake store we began hiking with 2 guys we had just met, and Will, making our group size an overwhelming 7. I know groups that size deteriorate somewhat quickly though, and for now it helps motivation. That was before the dark clouds rolled over us and thunder began to rumble. We all agreed to stop and set up camp at least while we waited out the storm. The sky looked ominous and we had all neglected to check the weather. We are getting spoiled and need the reality check. It has been a mere 4 miles, but with the exhausting weekend, I am super happy for the excuse to stop early and catch up on rest. At least we are out of town and on the trail, we should have no problems making progress tomorrow after a solid rest.

We ended up being joined by Cheeseburger, Polar Bear, Danger Spoon, and Smokey. Our total camp count is my highest yet, at 10. It’s been a fun night as we watch for a storm that never seems to come, yet lurks on the horizon, taunting us with the possibility. We all feel silly for not making more miles, but at least we feel silly together. There is barely enough room for us all here, but somehow we make it work. My favorite part is that Cheeseburger and Polar Bear have to share a tent, and they are 2 of the biggest guys on trail. It should be comical for everyone but them. They are kind of like the Odd Couple. The trail never gets boring, that’s for sure. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds by morning…

Tin Tin, Danger Spoon, CrackerJack, Oak, Cheeseburger, Polar Bear