Day 88: Wednesday, July 31

At the Hiker Hut in Etna (PCT mi 1606.5), a zero day

Slept badly in the hotel last night until about 8:45, ate a delicious breakfast of yogurt and granola, again courtesy of Shorts' parents, for the first time in months, then made my way out into town around 9:30. Did my groceries, as the store was nearby, then headed off to the hiker hostel, where I'd always planned to spend tonight. It's pleasant and well-thought-out, with loaner clothes and bikes and laundry, but it's also more minimalist than some of the other hostels on trail ... There's really not much here besides a little finished shed with some bunks and a bathroom and TV inside, and a nice yard that people can camp in if they want. The owners seem to mind their own business for the most part and let the hikers mind theirs, and somehow it all seems to work out very cleanly (unlike the Saufleys' or Hikertown) and un-acrimoniously (unlike Sierra City). I guess that could just be down to the people I'm around.

Etna itself only has a few things going for it, and these include the old-timey soda fountain, from which I got a real vanilla Coke around lunchtime, and the Etna Brewing pub, where I had lunch and dinner. In between those, I went to the library and PO to organize/send off my Entry to Canada Via the PCT permit, but that was my only real errand for the day. In the afternoon I watched some non-sports TV for the first time in months, napped, and hung out with Robin Hood, Scout (formerly Rafiki), and Spit Walker, who all happened to be around. Spit Walker's and my relationship is funny--I ran into him briefly on the AT in 2011 in Massachusetts, but at the time he had an abscess in the back of his leg that was one of the most repulsive sights I've ever laid eyes on, and he had to get off the trail for a few days to go to doctor's appointments to get it treated. Fast forward to when I meet him now in 2013 in the PCT, and he has just finished taking time off the trail to go to doctor's appointments, this time to get an infection on his ass treated. So I've never really met him when he hasn't been fighting some awful gross infection. But he's only ever had them twice, and I've been around for each one. I just know him now as "the guy who always has horrible skin infections." It's a catchy trail name.

Coca, Sailor Moon and the Swedish guy Laptop all made it into town this afternoon and I went to the brewpub with them for dinner. They know each other really well, having traveled together since almost the beginning, and they call each other by their non-trail names (Travis, Maddy and Robin, respectively), which is unusual and makes their friendship seem hard to get in on, even though they're all super nice individually. After that I came back to the hostel, continued to drink beer and checked out watching two PBS programs with other hikers, one on the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby and one on Werner von Braun and the V2 missile program. A perfectly frivolous zero day. Got to be in Ashland by Monday so tomorrow has to be a full-mileage day or close, however.