Cold, cold morning after camping in the rain. Everything was damp. It cleared up a little as we hiked along, "Oh, hey, there was a huge beautiful mountain that just poked out from behind yonder cloudbank!" Apparently we were hiking by the Three Sisters, when previously it had just looked like we were hiking by trees and clouds. It got beautiful and the terrain became another breathtaking alien volcanic landscape. Sisters Trail Angel Lloyd Gus (or as we misheard, Lord Gust) had described the upcoming section as a "trough of razor-sharp baseballs." I thought it was rather fitting. As pleased as my eyes were, my feet were screaming in pain.
I had decided to skip the section between McKenzie and Santiam Pass in order to spend more time with Amy's mom, Cindy. Microburst and Sweet 16 were going to take a shorter town stop and hike the section, it was a way to appease everyone. The last I saw of them, I was running into the trees as Microburst called out, "Bye Poopy!" We drive each other nuts, but we also love each other so.
I ran into some weekenders that told me Highway 242 was closed at the PCT from fires, and to try my hitching luck from a nearby trailhead, offering me a ride down to Sisters if we were there at the same time. Shortly thereafter, another hiker ran into me at a trail junction, and ahead of his group and without maps of his own, asked to look at mine. We ended up hiking all the way back to the trailhead together, talking the whole way about a monthlong hike he'd done in Europe that I'd LOVE to do, mountaineering, and his upcoming bid for a state senate seat against the incumbent Republican. He was charismatic, intelligent, and very very good looking; if the voters in his district are as uninformed and easily charmed as I, it'll be a Democratic victory. I think I might try to stay abreast of politics a little better this fall. I always intend to, but now there's a more personal curiosity too.
His friends gave me a ride down to Sisters, where I drank a delicious huckleberry smoothie and met up with Cindy. It was nice to ride with backpackers: I wasn't as worried about disgusting them with my aweful hiker-stench, and they were all super-nice and friendly, I instantly felt so comfortable and at home with them that I had to remind myself that they didn't need a thru-hiker detracting from their victory lunch, it was time to give them space and attend to my own business once we got to Sisters.
Cindy and I spent the evening running errands, which always takes longer than I want it to. My most exciting purchase was a real spoon that won't break after a few days like all my cheap deli cutlery keeps doing, and nutella. I also bought a new shirt with no holes in the armpits big enough to stick my allayed hands through and some superfeet due to stabbing pains in the arches, but neither are as gratifying as eating. We went out for some delicious burgers and beers at the Deschutes brewery, I drank an "easily enjoyable beer inspired by the 'Mello Yello' song."