August 18, 2017, Home

I woke up this morning, and took some time just to enjoy being in my tent. Gratitude.

Michael and Karen and I went to breakfast together. I had awesome French toast, bacon, juice, and so on. I figure I’d end this thing right.

As it turns out, Karen works for a gear manufacturer, focusing on military, but also doing work for some of the smaller shops. Her dream is to go to her hometown of Dunsmuir, and open a gear repair shop. My jaw hit the floor. A gear repair shop *right* on the trail? That would be fantastic, and I told her so. We talked over different kinds of gear, and what she’d be able to do. I really hope she can make it work.

When we got back to our tents, Karen pulled out a pro-level repair kit, and said if I needed anything, to just take it. Wow! My pack had to be organized for a flight, rather than the trail, but I managed to get everything inside or attached, and didn’t need to take her up on her generous offer.

All too soon, the shuttle van arrived, and Karen gave me a big hug. I loaded my pack into the van. It felt very weird.

We picked up a couple in downtown Ashland, and then we headed for the airport. Again, weird.

But the weirdest of all was when I watched my pack go down the conveyor belt and out of sight. For two weeks this year, and for many, many weeks in different years, that pack has been my everything. So while I knew perfectly well that I’d see it in a few hours, I still felt naked without it.

A quick lunch later, and I was boarding the plane. I had specifically chosen the east window of the plane, so that I could see what was happening below on my dear trail.

Smoke in Oregon. Smoke in the valleys. Smoke flowing in different directions. Enormous smoke plumes bursting through. I saw Three Fingered Jack, and where the trail was, but other than that it was shocking. Washington was relatively clear, but there were still fires.

We landed, and I made my way to baggage claim and Steve. In tears, I retreived my pack, and we headed for home.


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