Date Night

July 19, 2014

Start: Halfmile 1834.0
End: Halfmile 1834.0
Distance: ZERO
Cumulative: 1,873.5 Mi

Since I know you’re all wondering: yes, I caught 10k yesterday! But only just. I didn’t get going nearly as early as I’d planned yesterday morning. I figured 10k would have breakfast at Mazama, which would give me plenty of time to catch him. Well, after more than 400 miles, I still don’t know the man as well as I think I do. He skipped breakfast and hit the trail before I got there. I had just turned onto the road to make the mile long detour into Mazama when I ran into Mac. He told me that he’d seen 10k packing up earlier and that he believed he was already gone. Ok, no need to go into Mazama. I turned around, hoping to catch him at Rim Village. I knew he wouldn’t wait for long, so I double-timed it. I got in and found Carrot and her crew. No sign of 10k. She confirmed what Mac had said earlier, that 10k was likely already making his way along the rim, that he was already gone. Literally at that moment, I looked up and saw 10k’s unmistakably tall, green-shirted frame walking into the gift shop. WIN! I raced over, calling out to him with the biggest s***-eating grin on my face.

“TEN-K!”

He looked up, relieved. He had left and indeed was making his way along the rim, but then he realized that the last water for 27 miles was at the gift shop, so he doubled-back. That’s when I saw him. Seriously, what are the odds?

As happy as I am to be with Cassie – and I can’t even describe how happy I am to be lying next to her right meow – I’m that sad to think that I won’t be hiking out of Crater Lake with 10k. I’d always expected to hike from Mexico to Canada alone. It’s hard to find a good hiking partner, someone who sees the world the way you do, who has a similar vision and expectation of what he hopes to get from the trail (and give to it), someone who hikes at a similar pace (or at least covers similar miles each day). It’s about as easy as it sounds: not easy at all. Unless of course you enjoy hiking someone else’s hike, then it’s easy-peasy. In that case, anyone’s a good hiking partner.

We ran into each other here and there early on, as it so often happens in the early going. At some point – who knows where – we connected. One day it was all like: “Hey, there’s 10k. Let’s grab lunch together.” And the next, it was all like: “Where’s 10k? I wanna eat.” (You know, like I can’t eat without him.) We talked about everything, no holds barred. We were honest, direct, even crude at times. There came a point where I don’t think either of us was capable of thinking a thought without sharing it with the other person. We’d become best friends. He knows me far better than anyone else who walked here from Mexico. I hope I catch him; I’ll try to catch him. But I won’t make my trip about catching him. Our friendship will last far beyond this hike, regardless of whether we see each other again before Canada. I look forward to visiting him in TN this fall, or to him making the drive down to GA. He’s literally right around the corner. It’s not “goodbye”; it’s “see you later.”

See you later, my friend. Happy trails!