I wake later than usual, but neither Bill nor Kelsey seem to care, greeting me when I make my way into the living room and answering my questions about town with a smile. Pineapple texts me about breakfast, and my friends Butch and Harue text me that they’re on their way; as I walk my way to the bus stop about seven-tenths away, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have an excellent day.
I meet Pineapple for breakfast at a health food place, which is definitely more her bag than mine; we catch up, talk about the trail since Tuolumne, talk about maybe hiking together again. We’re not done when the meal’s over, and I’m still hungry since my $5 only bought me a bagel and cream cheese, so we head to Bert’s Cafe, where we get to say hello to Yoda before she heads off to her birthday shenanigans. I finally get to stuff my face with proper breakfast food, and even Pineapple has second breakfast. Delicious.
Butch and Harue meet us there, chat with us a while, hang out in the booth. Pineapple’s already spent a zero here and is looking to hike out today, if she can get a ride; Butch and Harue offer, and we set a time to meet up again for the purposes of hiker ferrying. In the car, I get to meet Map and Compass, their enormous and lovable doggles, and I get some pet therapy time when we hit the beach.
I also get time to catch up with Butch – we were in India together, went through some stuff together, and while it’s been nearly 7 years since that all went down, we talk like no time has passed. I remember how nice it is to be around people that understand you implicitly.
As we shift gears to Revive Coffee and Wine, I remember how nice it is to let loose, live a little. I get to know Harue a little better, come to adore her – she and Butch suit each other, and it makes me so glad these two found each other, so glad they both came out to hang out with me. I’m more relaxed than I’ve ever been on trail – there is no work, there is no Canada, there is only good food, good bevvy, good people, and good sunshine. I’m the luckiest hiker in all the land.
Pineapple meets us at the appointed hour, and we take her up the hill to Echo Summit. We hug, trade the usual “hike slow/hike fast”s. She tells me she’s probably not going to make it that far this evening, and that I need to catch up, dangit. I promise to try my best tomorrow.
We head back down the hill, go for pizza at Base Camp Pizza. I learn, to my chagrin, that the free pizza all thruhikers get is for dine-in only, and the wait is currently 90 minutes. Butch and Harue treat me to carryout and Coldstone, and we eat in a park overlooking the lake in the dying light.
All good things must come to an end, and so it is with today. I’m nearly in tears as they drop me off at Bill and Kelsey’s, bid me farewell with hugs and encouragement.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this cared for. But I’ve got miles to make tomorrow, and they have a drive ahead of them tonight, so I wish them the best on their upcoming nuptials and watch them drive off into the evening.
I chat convivially with Bill about my plans for tomorrow, and when Kelsey comes home we watch news and comedy segments about the Republican National Convention. I’m reminded how nice it is to be away. Eventually, I can’t keep my eyes open any longer, and I thank them again for the crash space as I crash land on the mattress. I’m practically asleep as my face hits the downy softness of the pillow.
Start: 1090.7 • End: 1090.7 • Day: 0
Notable Accomplishments: Actually relaxed • Got to see Butch and Harue! • Set goal of catching Pineapple for tomorrow