June 17, 2018
It was Sunday morning and there would be no lab results at the hospital, so I had another zero day to do with as I pleased. The good news was that my symptoms had gone away as soon as the antibiotics kicked in a few days ago, so at least I wasn’t hanging around the hostel in discomfort. Once again, I found myself sitting in a quiet kitchen drinking coffee and reading. As I read through Sunrises to Santiago, I was reminded of the song Killing Me Softly, in that it felt like the book was speaking to me, or perhaps about me. The author had many revelations about himself while hiking the Camino that were identical or at least similar to some of my own experiences while hiking the PCT. Anxiety about the future, about the present, being in competition with myself on this trail, the need to do better, be better… I was making it hard to just enjoy where I was at the moment.
Hikers trickled in as I sat sipping coffee and reading, then Couch Potato strolled in with a smile and said, “Morning, Tenspeed.”
I had yet to correct him regarding my name. Other had gotten it wrong before.
Just then Eric walked in, took one look at Couch Potato, and said, “Dude, look at that clean face! I barely recognized you!” That’s when I noticed, too. He’d had a rather scruffy beard before, and today he was completely clean-shaven. And his hair was combed quite nicely. The hair I’d noticed right away because it had always been sticking up in all directions before.
Couch Potato just smiled and said, “Yeah, I felt like it was time.” And he sat down next to me with his breakfast and smiled again. It was probably just me, but I got a vibe at that moment. Why would a thru-hiker shave their beard and pay more attention to their hair all of the sudden in the middle of a hike? But the way he smiled at me…I certainly hope he didn’t do it for me. Surely not. Why on earth would he? That’s silly.
Eric asked me if I wanted to help him clean another condo that day, to which I said yes, of course. I finished my breakfast and went to change, not giving it much more thought. After we were done cleaning, I hopped the trolley to town and went to the local theater to see Incredibles 2. I had nothing better to do, and watching a silly movie helped take my mind of the growing need I was feeling to get back on trail. Tomorrow, I told myself. Tomorrow I’d go straight to the hospital to see what was up, then I’d catch the trolley to the trailhead.
When I got back to the hostel, Couch Potato and Shadow were discussing dinner plans. Omri had hiked out that morning, so the three of us decided to go to the Mammoth Brewing Co, where we drank delicious beer while Shadow regaled us with stories about past jobs he’d had before deciding to hike the PCT. He was a fantastic storyteller, made all the more engaging with his great facial expressions and thick French accent. We had so much fun, and before the evening ended Shadow insisted we get one of the servers to take a picture of the three of us.
When we got back to the hostel it was late and most of the house was dark even though there were some people hanging around talking out on the patio. I bid the boys goodnight and crawled into bed.