Day One Hundred Seventeen

Today's miles: 0
Total miles: 2402

Though we were excited about our day off in Snoqualmie and had every intention of sleeping in, we couldn't sleep past 8:00. Our bodies were too conditioned to being on the trail by 7:30. It didn't stop us, however, from lounging lazily in our rooms all morning watching HBO movies, listening to the rain pounding outside and glad that we weren't out hiking in it.

Treekiller, Sunshine and Vince had the room right behind Katie and me, and every so often they would pound on the wall to say hello or emphasize a point in whatever movie we were watching in synchronization.
Pretty soon Wocka and Giddyup showed up in our room, followed by Rotisserie and Sansei, and all of them upon entering cried, "hey, we were watching that, too!"
When Treekiller, Sunshine and Vince joined us, we sat on the beds eating bags of candy and leftover pulled pork and watching the hours click by with no schedule.

Susan, before leaving last night, had offered to give us a ride into town today if we needed to resupply at REI (a few of us were wanting umbrellas for this last stretch) and to take us out to dinner tonight. I also had two more friends who lived nearby - Kathy and Wes - and I was looking forward to seeing them today, too.

While we passed the time watching movies and starting loads of laundry, there was a knock on our door and Mudd and Dingo appeared in our room, followed by none other than Games and Reason! They had just gotten to the Snoqualmie and were looking forward to a day off, too. Games and Reason had been a day behind us for so long that I hadn't seen them since central California! We welcomed everyone to our party and our trail magic, but before they sat, Dingo froze and scanned us over with a suspicious eye.
"Wait..." she said, "why do you all look different?"
"We took showers?" Giddyup suggested.
"No... you look...normal..." she said, mystified, and then cried out in realization, "I know! You're wearing COTTON!"
We laughed. "Oh, right! We have loaner clothes! Care for some?"

Shortly thereafter, Toots and Tears appeared in our room and said they were going down to the hot tub, and would anyone care to join? We now had a whole bucket of swim suits Susan had brought us, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put them to use. The hot tub was huge and wonderful, with big windows that looked out onto the soggy landscape. We soaked until our muscles turned to jelly, and then promptly returned to our rooms where we watched yet another HBO movie.

Left to right and front to back (sort of): Tears for Beers, Toots Magoots, Fun Size (in red hat), Honey Bunny, Lighthouse (with beer), Dingo, Mudd, Vince, Giddyup, Wocka Wocka, Sunshine

At 2:00 my friend Kathy came by and offered a ride into town. She had four seats and said that Susan was coming by in another hour to pick up another four people. Katie, Treekiller, Sansei and I rode with Kathy to Issaquah where we stopped by REI to buy some odds and ends and I met up with my old friend Wes, who was waiting for us. We browsed and talked until Susan showed up with Sunshine, Rotisserie and Vince in her car, and then went out for frozen yogurt before dinner. (Life's short, eat dessert first, right?)

We went to dinner at a lovely Italian place called Tutta Bella, the ten of us sitting at a large table that was soon full of conversation. I caught up with Wes, whom I hadn't seen in several years, while Cathy and Susan delightfully soaked in all the PCT stories the rest of us were telling. It was a fun, noisy, adventure-story-filled night, and everyone was enjoying themselves. In fact, I was so engrossed in conversation with my half of the table that I didn't notice Susan taking the check until I heard Wes say, "wait... wait... what's Susan doing?"
I turned in time to see her pulling out her credit card, and I yelled, "no!"
We tried already," Rotisserie said ruefully. "She won't let us pay."
"You've done so much already!" I said, completely shocked. "You do not have to pay for dinner!"
But Susan wouldn't hear of it, and despite our adamant arguments, she passed the check back to the waiter with calm civility. We thanked her profusely, then, for she had given us so much already that this further generosity was staggering.

Left to right: Sansei, Rotisserie, Honey Bunny, Treekiller, Sunshine, Wes, Bramble, Susan, Kathy, Vince

We returned to the hotel around 9:00pm, smiling and laughing with each other and giving hugs to Kathy, Susan and Wes before they left. It was a wonderful night.

As we walked back to our rooms, we noticed crumpled notes taped to our doorways. Treekiller's room had a sign that read "PCT North ---->;" and while we were laughing about that one, I noticed the sign on my door, which read:
"Water in 300 ft. Flowing 2 liters/min. Just walk through door and turn on faucet." And then a small note scribbled in at the bottom: "watch out for wasps!"
We couldn't stop laughing. This was clearly the handiwork of Toots and Tears.

The rest of the evening was spent with more HBO movies. Sunshine, Vince and Treekiller hung out in our room until late into the night, watching the cinematic masterpiece "The Day After Tomorrow." (Kidding. Worst movie ever.)

I remember thinking as I fell asleep that this might very well be our last day off for some time, and I was right. Now, looking back, those hiking days between White Pass and Snoqualmie were some of my favorites on trail. The weather was beautiful, my friends were close, and we had no care in the world but spending time with each other before the end. In the weeks to come, time would seem to speed up, to move by with such a whirlwind of emotion and stress and desperation that we would forget about these simple moments, these moments spent in each other's company, reminiscing about our journey and trying to forget that it was almost over. Looking back, those moments seem so dear, for soon everything would change, and there would be no time for remembering days gone by. Our long, life-changing journey was coming to a close, and this was truly the beginning of the end.

But all that was to come, and for now, life was calm and perfect. And as I fell asleep I dreamed perfect dreams of pressing my hand to that northern monument.