This huge Western cedar was right by the trail.
At last we came to Road 23. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I knew that the actual trailhead was almost a mile ahead, since Chuck, Beth and I had scoped out the rendezvous a month in advance. But all I told Rick was, "It won't be long now." At first I blazed a path and left Rick in the dust. But then I thought that I had shared a week on the trail with my buddy, was it fair to suddenly rush ahead at the very end of the trip?
Rick stands at the endpoint where the PCT crosses Road 23.
So I stopped and waited for him to catch up. It was shortly after 1 p.m. when the trailhead parking lot came into view. There was my Subaru, covered with road dust. The editors were here!
We started walking down the PCT further, still carrying our packs, when Chuck and Beth came down the trail. They were excited to see us and amazed that we had arrived only 10 minutes after they did. It was astonishing that Rick and I had traveled 82 miles in eight days and managed to meet our connection just 10 minutes after the had arrived at the trailhead.
I tried to hug Beth, who cringed at this dirty, smelly hiker who wanted to embrace her. They continued back to the car to get a cooler and lunch. We continued on to a potential hiking spot by a creek only a few 100 yards from the parking lot, where we met up with Kevin. I looked so foreign at first that Kevin didn't recognize me!
The cousins celebrate 82 miles in eight days.
A toast to the first week on the trail. Could the second week match it?
I only had four pictures left on the disposable, and Beth took several of Rick and I celebrating our week on the PCT. Then it was beer, fresh grapes, fried chicken, brownies and other goodies. We were gorging ourselved when suddenly Tyson came down the trail. Rick and I invited him over and before we could introduce him, he looked at the three editors and correctly remember their names. They were astonished at first until we let them in on how we had prompted him that morning to send a message ahead on the trail. Tyson then snapped a shot of all us--particularly important for me as I said good-bye to Rick and hello to my next week's hiking contingent.
The PCT hikers: Left to right, Rick Race, Kevin Cool, Tom Griffin, Chuck Luce and Beth Luce. Photo by Tyson Fisher.
We chatted and then Rick washed himself in the creek. I went back to the car to clean up and resupply from a bag I had left at Beth and Chuck's house. I even shaved with my electric razor. Beth told me how horrible the Mariners were doing, how Bush had to ask for more money for Iraq, and that the weather reports predicted rain starting on Sunday (Day Nine).
With this report confirming Treebeard's news, I said we should try to hike a little in the afternoon while the weather was still good. Kevin, Beth and Chuck jumped at the idea. They wanted to hit the trail but were worried that I would already be too tired. "Nah," I said. "My pack was light today and after eight days of hiking, I feel like I am in great shape."
So I bid Rick a fond farewell and told him how much I am going to miss him. He said he wished he could continue on, but his family was waiting for him in Virginia. I crammed the new food and fresh clothes into my pack. We shook hands, and then we were off.