Day One Hundred Twenty Nine

Today's miles: 0
Total miles: 2580

I woke up in a hotel room in Wenatchee, my first thought being that I wasn't on trail, and I didn't know if I would be again.
The morning was slow. The thirteen of us (Wocka, Giddyup, Sneaks, Kazu, Katie, Sunshine, Alphabet Soup, Kudu, Rotisserie, Sansei, Vince, Treekiller, me) got ready for an unknown day, doing laundry, packing up, discussing options over a continental breakfast.
Decisions were finally made. Everyone was choosing the path that was right for them, but unfortunately, our choices took us in many different directions.

Katie, Treekiller, and Vince decided they were done (for now) with the PCT. Katie's mom was driving up today to pick her up and take her back to Portland. Treekiller's bus to San Francisco left from Portland in a few days. Vince, as a section hiker, had less desire to reach the border than the rest of us, and his plans to travel to India in a few months were occupying his thoughts.
Wocka, Giddyup, Sneaks and Kazu were going to Seattle for a few days to gear up. They would stay with our friend Watson, buy winter hiking gear, and hopefully return to Stehekin on Tuesday to meet everyone else when the storm cleared up.
Sunshine, Rotisserie, Sansei and I were going to Portland for a few days (along with Treekiller and Vince, who needed to get to Portland, too). Tanner and my sister were bringing up two cars today to take us home so we could gear up there and, ideally, return to the trail with Wocka, Giddyup, Sneaks and Kazu. Rotisserie and Sansei would try to get from Portland down to Eugene, where Sansei lived and could pick up his own gear.
Alphabet Soup and Kudu were the only two undecided parties. They wanted to get back on trail, but they were worried about the gear they currently owned and had no way to get the rest of their gear from home. They decided they would wait out the storm in Wenatchee for a few days and make a decision after that.

With choices made, we checked out of our hotel and waited for Katie's mom to arrive. She would be taking the first crew of people to Seattle to drop them off before returning to home to Portland. She had left early this morning, so she arrived just before lunch, and we all walked through the drizzling rain to a nearby Applebees to eat together one last time.
The thirteen of us took over the entire bar, and the bartender looked vastly amused to have so many strangely-dressed people at his section. We chatted with him about the trail, ate plates of pasta and talked and laughed together, pretending it wasn't our last moments together as a group.

Before leaving for Seattle, we gathered in front of our hotel again and took a group photo. We laughed about creating the Monument out of beer cans, or backpacks, to symbolize the end of our journey. But then again, we didn't want to act like it was the end of our journey, so long as there was still hope and a trail to hike. In any case, taking a photo in a parking lot just wasn't the same as one in the deep wilderness, standing at the border of the United States and Canada. But it would have to do.

Left to right: Sneaks, Wocka Wocka, Giddyup, Kazu, Sunshine, Katie, Vince, Rotisserie, Kudu (behind), Sansei, Alphabet Soup (behind), Bramble, Treekiller

We hugged Sneaks, Wocka, Giddyup, Kazu, and Katie farewell, hoping fervently that we would see them again soon. We made empty promises: we'll meet back in Stehekin on Monday night. We'll see you then so that we wouldn't have to say true goodbyes. After all, there were no goodbyes on the PCT, only see you down the trail....
And then there were eight.
And so we waited.

Tanner and my sister Courtney left at 7:00 from Portland, and it was supposed to be a five hour drive, but because of horrible weather, it took them nearly eight hours to reach Wenatchee. It seemed the dreaded storm had finally arrived.
Two cars pulled into the hotel parking lot at 2:30, and since it was still pouring, we barely had time to say hello! So good to see you! before we gave tight hugs to Alphabet Soup and Kudu and loaded Vince, Sunshine, Treekiller, Rotisserie, Sansei, and me back into the cars with Tanner and Courtney and drove off for Portland.

It was a long car ride, fraught with rain, hail, and strong winds that drove us off the road. But after another seven hours, we were safely back in Portland at 9:30pm. My mom had cleaned the house and put out a bowl of candy to welcome us home. Courtney made us tacos for a late dinner and then we turned in for bed, all of us exhausted. My living room turned into a indoor camp-ground, with Vince, Sunshine, Treekiller, Rotisserie and Sansei lined up on their sleeping pads. It looked so cozy that I wanted to join them, but I had my own bed tonight. My limbs felt heavy as I fell asleep, for though I was excited to be home and to see Tanner and my family, more than anything I also wanted to be back on trail, headed for Canada.