Day 61: Thursday, July 4

In San Ramon, CA (left trail at PCT mi 1092.0), walked 15.0 miles today

Well, this day took off in an unforeseen direction. Woke up at 6:30 and hiked by 7. Was very tired because of low calorie input ... after about 7 miles that were harder than they should've been, got some cell service and called my dad. He was going to be in the Tahoe area much earlier than expected so we agreed to meet a little further trail-south, at Echo Summit, at 1pm instead of 4. When I met him, the traffic on Hwy 50 to Tahoe was backed up all the way to where we were, 12 miles west, so neither of us really wanted to go down there. I needed, at minimum, a meal, groceries and laundry and would have also preferred not to camp for the night ... the only way to accomplish those goals, without confronting the insanity of Lake Tahoe on the 4th of July in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave driving half of California up into the mountains, seemed to be to head westbound and down. He had a hotel room for the night in San Ramon, in the East Bay, which was previously unbeknownst to me. I said we could go that far if need be, I have friends to hang out with in the Bay, and I could take a bus back up Friday or Saturday depending.

So that's what happened. First we hopped over to the Echo Lake store, which was slammed with people, including some hikers. My maildrop parcel there, which was confirmed delivered on June 29, was unlocatable ... I'll just have to try again later on that front. Got sandwiches and milkshakes, I added two San Pellegrino sodas and we hit the road going against the traffic down to the Bay. Between the two great cities of Sacramento and Stockton, the car thermometer showed 112 degrees (see picture). Made it to the hotel around 5 and got laundry done ... While that was happening, I was so ravenously hungry and impatient to leave for dinner that I was reduced to eating from the jar of complimentary breath mints. Finally did get dinner at a restaurant around 7 ... Thai salad, lasagna, two slices of my dad's pizza, peach cobbler, ice cream, two Chainbreakers, and I was hardly full but kind of drunk, which is embarrassing after 2 pints but that's pretty much de rigueur for me when hiking. Talked at length with my dad about his and my mom's recent trip to the Arctic ... They got to see Fridtjof Nansen's ship /Fram/, which is the part I was most jealous of because I love Nansen. After dinner I got in touch with my good friend Elliott from college, who lives literally a 10-minute walk from this hotel ... Went over to his place, hung out, caught up and then, crucially, played Call of Duty Zombies til almost midnight. Could not in a hundred years have predicted that end to my day when I woke up alone in my tent on top of the Elephant's Back this morning. Who knows what tomorrow holds in store ... Will I even be in this country once it's over?