Day 62: Friday, July 5

Crashing on two chairs at someone's pad in Berkeley, not even going to pretend like this has anything to do with the PCT, it's a zero day

Ate 3 people's worth of food at the hotel continental breakfast this morning, after which I went grocery shopping for the next 60 miles of trail and then my dad fell back asleep on the motel room bed, giving me time to gather my things and make plans for the day. These consisted of being driven to Berkeley and dropped off at my friend Charlie's new place. Charlie just graduated from college and has a job about to start in the Bay Area and moved to Berkeley about 3 days ago. And I've never been here before, so neither he nor I had any idea what to do or see ... We took off walking around noon, hit all the major streets in the area and covered what I assume is most of the campus. At around 4 we and his roommates headed to a bar that had a sliding-scale happy hour deal on pitchers ($6 until 5 pm, $7 until 6 and so on), and at around 6 my great friend Jordan from college also showed up fresh off work. We noticed another 2010 alum, Emma, sitting at another table at the same bar ... Emma, it so happens, is aiming for a lifelong section-hike of the PCT and had just been out a few weeks earlier on the VVR-Sonora section, except southbound. She said at one point that if she could be hiking at all times, she would be ... That's an attitude that I can relate to, because every time someone asks me why I've wanted to do such a long hike, in the process of answering their question I realize exactly how much I like it and how much I feel I'm well-suited for it, especially in comparison to just about anything else in life. So we all had a lot to talk about.

The bar group broke up around 8 and then things got weird. We were locked out of Charlie's apartment, so we went over to the neighbors' place. The neighbors are 9 Irish boys from Galway, all living together, all taking a break from college, almost all under 21, all in Berkeley completely on a whim. Their flat was possibly the messiest and most overtly substance-friendly residence I've ever been in. They smoked and drank a lot and we all sat and talked about this and that (they liked my very Irish name and my knowledge of Irish geography, which I conceded was 100% derived from an obsession with Joyce's Dubliners my senior year of high school), then they were under the impression that there was a frat party somewhere, so we all walked for at least 15 minutes aimlessly around Berkeley ... There was no frat party, we broke up and then I waited about 25 minutes with the other Americans for a late-night cookie and ice cream sandwich from some place called CREAM, Cookies Rule Everything Around Me (cream get the money, dolla dolla bill y'all). It was okay, but not worth the Voodoo Doughnuts-esque wait. Finally we got back to the now open apartment and the only place they had for me to sleep was two cushy chairs facing each other. I'll make do, especially as I'm taking the BART early tomorrow morning to get back to San Ramon, so it's not like I'd be sleeping much anyway. This is the first day I've had since May 3 that had absolutely zero to do with the trail, and it felt more than strange. I mean I had fun, but looking back on it something almost seems wrong, because of how intensely I've tied myself up in the PCT effort for two months in a row. Tomorrow I'm almost certainly getting back to the trail and moving forward, so my world can be framed by that simple context once more.