Note: this is the last of my PCT entries. After my last day, I stopped writing journal entries, so you’ll have to trust my memory.
After Krista picked me up, we drove west to Marblemount, and had dinner in the back garden of a tiny neon restaurant on the outskirts of town. Chicken fried steak and a bottle of shitty beer. Then to a hotel—more like a converted duplex—where a family of five sat upstairs in the common room, watching the Olympics.
“Have you two been on a hike?”
Krista smiled. “I haven’t, but he has.”
I shrugged. “Just a little one.”
Our room was tiny, with two twin beds and just enough space for my backpack on the floor. But it was also perfect. And Krista had brought all sorts of treats: Starbursts and chips and three types of cookies. She fell asleep around midnight—it’s a long drive from Portland—but I stayed up crazy late, looking through the thousand pictures I took over the last month.
We woke up early the next morning, and I limped out into the shiny asphalt sun. I hadn’t been sore since Mount Adams, but now that I was finished, my legs were in open rebellion. So I limped out into the sun, then over to a ramshackle market next door, where I bought a gallon of water, ibuprofen, some more chips, and half a dozen candy bars.
We spent the afternoon touristing through the North Cascades: back to Diablo Lake, which already felt like some holy relic, then to Washington Pass and through the beautiful old timber towns east of the cascades, along the Methow River. We stopped in Twisp for improbably great Mexican food, then continued south, through the hot mid-summer sun through apple orchards and desert, rivers and dusty sun-choked hills.
The speed, all the water I could drink, enough food for once, Krista… I kept looking over at her, her still face against a background blurring by. We ended up in Wenatchee for the night, at some slick national chain hotel, air conditioning blaring irresponsibly high in an anonymous third floor room, watching Guy Fieri eat cheese burgers somewhere in Ohio. I ate all the Oreos, then all the chips. Then we went out for dinner at a chic post-industrial warehouse on the Columbia, surrounded by serene, clean parking lots and well-kept grass. Good food and great beer, middle aged couples on dates drinking hundred dollar bottles of wine. One of those fortune teller machines from Big, almost, but not exactly, in the corner. It promised Krista I’d be showering again sometime soon.
After dinner, we went for a walk along the river to watch the sunset, stood out on an esplanade as a group of high school kids jumped in, lied down on a dock, our feet just touching the water, planning the rest of the summer.