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It rained all last night at Hoh Lake... it rained hard. Most my gear is tolerably dry, although the high schoolers next door did not fare so well. Their bags (and everything else) is soaked through, and they have decided to pack out today instead of finish up the last four days of their trip. All things considered, they are in high spirits, and bid farewells as they head up the trail.

My boots have been wet for days in the incessant weather, and my toes complain to me as we traverse the never-ending switchbacks down to the Hoh River. They do not call this a rainforest for nothing! Steady showers persist, turning the mosses & leaves of the Hoh Rainforest to the shimmering lively green. Surging rivers engulf their banks today, and I am thankful this weather system held out until after I had completed my journey up the Queets. My feet are soaked in my squashing boots, but I care little, whistling the tune of "All You Need Is Love" as I amble down the trail. I take lunch under the porch of the Olympus Guard Ranger Station, and meet a pair of climbers, on their way up to summit Olympus via the Blue Glacier (standard route). One of them is suffering miserably in a pair of rented boots (ouch! ), so I offer my moleskin (which I have not used) and my duct tape (which is nearly out). I give them my provisions (they need it worst than I do), say goodbye and continue onwards, down the River.
By mid-afternoon I reach the turnoff to Five-Mile-Island, and knowing that the PNWH (Pacific Northwest Hikers) Posse won't meet me here 'till tomorrow, I try to find a spacious campsite to set up. A hundred yards in, I see two people standing in a campsite, huddling under a makeshift tarp from the rain, talking to each other. They turn around to see who is coming, and pause for a moment to confirm recognition.

"Mike?" they ask, not quite sure for a second.

"Jeremy! Lynne! Holy cow!!!" Hugs all around. It turns out OlyHiker and Fogduo (along with her nephew Cody) came out a day early, intending to make a pleasant weekend out of meeting me on the Hoh River. They are as surprised to see me early as I am to see them.

The rest of the night I spend with friends, relaying stories (endless stories) of the backcountry, drinking wine and hot tea under a steady rain. They have been worried about me... it turns out everyone has. Jeremy, a couple weeks after our beach hike, came down with a dehabilitating case of Giardia, and is just-now beginning to recover. Imagine if I had gotten the same thing, 10 days out in the Queets Valley! Foggy notices immediately that I have lost weight... my ring hangs loosely on my left finger. After commenting on the remarkable smell my feet have acquired (*phew!*), we pass the night away in laughter and peace.