I woke up on the porch too early, but everyone rustling around kept me up. I put everything away in the early morning chill and set off first into the cool grey day.
A hiker, who I quickly found out was Big Cheese, came up behind me. I liked him, so after he passed me I pushed myself to keep up.
We talked about home and work and career moves and writing and publishing and relationships. It was a whirlwind chat, encompassing so much in such a short period of time. We switched leader position after a break and rushed at the huge climb, huffing and talking the whole time.
We did six hours of normal hiking in four and a half. Wowza! We were so proud of getting to the highway so early. And then, before we even thought about how to get into town, we got picked up by a trail angel and whisked to town.
I called Ant, who was still three hours away. I did laundry and talked to friends and family and then waited for an eternity for some Thai food within walking distance. I just had started in on it when Ant arrived.
I ran out for the biggest, happiest hug ever. It has been a month Ant-less.
We went back in, I introduced Ant to all the hiker trash I was gorging with, and we ate.
The rest of the day was a flurry of joy. Getting a hotel room, waiting an hour for pizza while listening to a band, and endless catching up. The trail feels like home again.