Day 139: Friday, September 20

Tenting at Campsite CS2603 (PCT mi 2603.2), walked 23.0 miles today

Woke up at 7 and soon got down to the Lodge to wait for the 8:00 bus, which left around 8:10. There were 10 hikers on the bus when it started and two more joined when it stopped at the Stehekin Ranch, meaning the hike-out crowd level was like something from the AT, or the SoCal desert after Kickoff. All the hikers plus some of the non-hiking passengers sprinted out and mobbed the bakery when the bus made its "5-minute" stop there ... I purchased many, many items from the day-old shelf, most of which I couldn't even identify beyond "tasty-looking bread/pastry product," and stashed them in my pack to finish off what has become easily the most extravagant and unhealthy resupply of the whole hike. The bus dropped the hiker posse off at High Bridge, we posed for some pictures, then everyone fizzled out into the woods.

Hermes, Lotus and I after a few miles had outpaced everyone and were rolling together; Jackrabbit and Blur caught up to us while we were breaking at a cascading river in the sun and the five of us were around each other the rest of the way. Said break was probably the last time on this trip that I will be warm--I was thinking to myself as I sat there eating how the difference between hiking in sunny weather and in rain is so extreme that they almost shouldn't even count as the same activity. You don't have to worry about ANYTHING hiking when it's warm and dry--just sit wherever you want, eat wherever, go wherever, camp wherever, whenever. That's why, day to day, I haven't found most of the PCT especially difficult, because so much of it has been in nearly perfect hiking weather. In the afternoon the temperature dropped a bit, although it still wasn't quite what you'd call cloudy, and from high vantage points it was easy to see a front off in the distance to the south, the one that's supposed to bring all our awful rain/snow/what have you. But as Carrot kept saying today, we're just out on a 3-day weekend hiking trip, and on Monday it'll all be over .... A little bad weather won't hurt anyone! Also there's a hiker feed at Hart's Pass 27 miles from here, so it's conceivable, if they are well-organized and have good shelter, that we will have somewhere dry to stay tomorrow night (the bathroom buildings at Hart's are another possibility).

Arrived at this campsite and found a passable tent spot, but it was far away from everyone else so I hung out with them (them being Hermes, Lotus and Jackrabbit) through dinner and then retired to set up my tent at dark. Figured I had the whole area to myself when Carrot and Robin Hood pulled their now signature move and staggered into camp after dark and set up nearby. They said there was lightning on the horizon, so I got out and battened down my tent a bit more and Carrot was nice enough to lend me a triangular cuben-fiber door/tarp contraption that is meant to go with the Hexamid tent, which she also owns ... I had no idea this existed but I strung it up in my tent and I have more peace of mind than usual when rain is in the offing and I'm lying in the Hexamid. They're good camping neighbors because they have absurd senses of humor, particularly Carrot, and are very good about remaining upbeat about the two-day shellacking we are about to receive. Tomorrow is almost certain to be a 27-miler to Hart's pass for the hiker feed. Keep calm, carry on.