Day 19: Thursday, May 23

Cowboying with Pippin on a ridge (PCT mi 282.3), walked 15.3 miles

Woke up around 8, packed up, secured permission to leave my crap in the hotel office, walked my dirty laundry down the street to the laundromat and went to Thelma's for breakfast while it washed. The stories were all true--bomber breakfast food, I had eggs Benedict with the best home fries I think I've ever tasted in my life. Ate with Julia and Kelsey, the two Alaskan ladies whom I had met before. They had hitched into town straight to the restaurant.

After the repast, talked on the phone with Matt at Elemental Horizons, the maker of my Kalais pack, about my aforementioned problems. He offered to send a new hipbelt pocket to me up the trail, which was easy, then we talked about the issue with the stay. This turned out to be user error on my part; there are pockets of webbing that the bottom prongs are supposed to feed into so that they won't bust through the pack fabric and tickle my tush as I walk. He said he'd send me some repair tape for the two pinholes in the fabric as well, even though these were basically my fault. So the moral is, Elemental Horizons: good people. Also makers of at least one extremely comfortable backpack (mine).

Got a ride back up the highway to the trail from a local woman named Geesh, who appeared to be known to some of the other hikers at Nature's Inn already. Started walking at 1:30ish. The weather was, dare I say, cool for the entire afternoon, and cold enough now at 9 that my fingers are numb doing the typing. Ran into a dude named Pippin on the trail, I'd met him already but we walked and talked for a good ten miles today and we're bros now. When he asked how Kristin spelled her name and I said "without the E" and he said, "Oh, with the E would have anagrammed to stinker, tinkers and reknits," I figured we might have something in common. As it turns out, he peaked at 25th in North America in Scrabble in high school and was very excited to know that I had read Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis. He said he beat Stefan in a tournament once. We nerded out on Scrabble for awhile but we've got a lot else in common too. If nothing else, I can talk sports with someone on the PCT for the first time.

Hiked basically til dark then plopped down at this random flat, pinestrawy spot. If it weren't for Halfmile's phone app I would barely have a ballpark guess for my mileage in these instances, but it's known to about 50 feet now. Trying removing my phone battery for the night to see if that helps its longevity.