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Today, I officially run out of food. Thankfully, the rest of the Posse (a surprising number of them!) are hiking down the trail (as I speak) to find me here, and Dicentra has promised to bring drinks and provisions for my last day out (thanks, T! ). The clouds are clearing (finally!) and as Cody, Foggy & OlyHiker take a dayhike up the Hoh River Trail, I spend time kicking my feet up around camp. I rinse my shirts in the river, and see a notable "cloud" of salt dissipate into the current (gross!). With my gear drying on the line in the ever-welcome sun, I sit back and amble the morning away aimlessly, content and thankful for this long-sought chance to relax.

By mid-afternoon, Cindy comes walking down the trail, shortly followed by Dicentra, Pixie, Jay, and StrykerHyker (am I forgetting anybody?). I am disappointed to hear Sarbar could not make it, and I hold onto her borrowed blue-lexan spoon that I had been planning to return to her on this occasion (but that is a-whole-nother story. For now, I still have it! ).

Wine, fresh salmon (mmm!!!), pasta, foccacia bread (double-mmm!!), candy, and more wine are passed around as the evening hours pleasantly wane away. I refuse nothing offered to me for food, and fill up on the best meal I have enjoyed in weeks. Telling my stories repeatedly, I relish the companionship of much-missed friends.
Upon seeing everybody's fresh gear, I am quickly aware of how much abuse my stuff has suffered through this trip. My pack is falling apart at the seams, my treking poles are nearly busted, my tarp seams are pulling apart, I have holes in my new pair of rawhide gloves, and my boots are literally coming apart at my feet. My wife will not enjoy hearing this, but when I get home, it is time to go shopping again.

Relishing the company, and OlyHiker's homemade dandelion wine (strong stuff, Jeremy!), I share my stories (as OlyHiker commented "jeez Mike, you like to talk, don't you?!" ). It is a feast for me, in all possible ways. Sitting around the jubilant circle, I have an out-of-body feeling, as if staring at myself from a distance. This is my last night living out in the backcountry... a life I have known intimately this past month. How will the days feel when I get home? Will things seem different? I do not know. Either way, I am ready to find out.