Energizer and Dexter leave early. I don’t sit around too long, but then I realize I need to pay for my campsite so I can slackpack and leave my tent, but the ranger doesn’t show up until 8:30. I don’t want to wait that long, so I ask a biker who is awake if he’ll pay for my site for me. He says yes, but then I start chatting with him and I end up being around for an hour anyway. We talk about some of the things I found strange about the PCT, and he says he noticed similar things when he talked to some hikers he camped with while biking. He tells me about bike touring and I get half convinced I should buy a bike and spent the next month doing that instead. He’s very nice, and it’s a good way to start the morning.
Eventually I pay for my campsite and start walking to town. I get a sandwich at Fred Meyer where the cashier will barely look at me and I assume it’s because I look homeless, but I don’t know.
I eat as I walk. It’s a pleasant walk along the road past farms, with clouds up higher on the mountain. It reminds me of visiting my husband’s home in Wales, and that makes me feel calm. Maybe I’m ready to go home? I think. But my gut is quiet so I don’t know what that means.
Rather quickly I get to the visitor’s center. I look around and see that Energizer Bunny and Dexter have already been here and signed the register. Dexter texts me and says they’re back in town. I go to the beach and hang out in the driftwood and take my final photo of the OCT.
The people at the visitor center are super friendly and try to find me a way back to town, although eventually I stick my thumb out and a man who saw me walking earlier pulls over. He hurt his back and is envious of the trip I’ve done.
He drives me straight to Fred Meyer, where I get some snacks for the night. I go across the street to try to find a real outfit at Goodwill with no success. Then I get some takeout from a Mexican restaurant and walk back to camp.
At camp, Sonia and Mermaid have arrived. We chat around the dinner table.
I tell Sonia I won’t be headed back to the PCT, at least not right away. She’s surprised. I tell her I don’t really want to be around thruhikers again. She tells me: You need to stop caring about what other people think.
But I’m not sure how to do that, and I’m not sure it’s what I want to do. There are some places I don’t mind being alone, choosing aloneness even when opportunities for friendship present themselves. I don’t think the wilderness is one of them.