Spent a few hours in the lovely air conditioning, and then Jon and Gail arrived to sweep us back to San Diego. Riding in the car on the way there was a funny feeling, even though we'd only been gone from reality for 9 days. It felt like we were flying, and took a little bit of getting used to. Our first stop was a critical one - Ballast Point Brewery for some great micro-brewery beer! I felt unfit to be loosed on society - my formally crisp white shirt (great for desert heat!) had turned every shade of brown to grey to black in the book. But the bartender was excited to hear about the journey and we had some awesome brews.
Arrived at the hotel a little bit later where Gail managed to get a fantastic suite overlooking the marina (found out later that the one and only Hilary Clinton stayed in the same room once!) The shower was quite easily the most enjoyable one I've ever had in my entire life. I couldn't believe how many times I washed and scrubbed and still dirt flowed down the drain. So crazy. We went out for a nice dinner later in the evening, and even spotted some of our favorite wineries on the menu - Nickel & Nickel and Moshin, among others!
On Friday, the plan was to head to KickOff for the rest of the weekend, but we couldn't bring ourselves to leave the awesome hotel. Plus, we still had chores to attend to. We did some laundry - my shirt turned out almost as dirty even after a hot wash and bleach, sadly - and then headed out to REI, Michael's, Target, and AleSmith...because of course we wanted to try one more tasty San Diegan brew! I got new shoes which I'm hoping beyond hope will help my wounded feet. Turned out the Giants were in town to play the Padres, so we got some cheap seats! I'm pretty sure there were more Giants fans in the crowd than Padres, which was really funny, but the Giants wound up losing.
I reluctantly left the beautiful hotel on Saturday morning to head to KO. I don't know why, but I was dreading going back. Every part of me just wanted to go home and hang out across the street in the park. Although the San Diego time was great, I think spending a few days back in normal life completely away from the trail, removed from anything that reminded me of the trail, made it difficult to consider returning. San Diego was fun, and easy. While I was proud to have finsihed the first section (109 miles) of the trail, it was really quite hard, and I completed in far more pain than I'd hoped. It was also 109 miles of hot, dry desert. But given the fact that I'd only spent 9 days on the trail, it wasn't time enough to consider giving up yet!
Soon enough, we arrived at KO, and within a few hours I'd resettled. Only went to 1 seminar, but most of it was information we already knew. I think KO will be great next year as a reunion, and I think it's quite beneficial for a lot of people who need to learn more about the trail...but I'd done my homework, and didn't find much there to be anything new. However, it's a great chance to meet other hikers and hopefully reunite with old friends the years after your own hike! Speaking of meeting other hikers, I bumped into an old friend who is also hiking this year - Ben, who I went to high school with and haven't seen in the past 10 years! I hope we have the chance to hike with them sometime over the summer.
Saturday night, they played the 2012 class video, which is essentially a compilation of pictures and video. Watching that reminded me of all the awesome experiences yet to come & why I'm out here in the first place. Sometimes, I've felt like the one who doesn't belong out here, which is completely self-defeating. I knew I should stop, but it's easier said than done! I hope those feelings will change soon, and watching that video made me excited for the awesome places and scenes I've yet to experience. I think after I get back on the trail I'll feel better - both physically AND mentally.
Sunday morning was interesting. Apparently a number of people in camp thought 5 am an appropriate time to chat and carry on like it was the middle of the day. Woke up early and after breakfast, spent time around camp with Christian until Jon and Gail picked us up to go back to Warner Springs. On the drive back, we essentially drove the route of the PCT. It was quite odd to pass one landmark/campsite/etc. after another in such rapid succession. We stopped in Julian for the free slice of pie for hikers, and then said goodbyes at Warner Springs. I was so lonely as soon as they left. I had a hard time even thinking about going back to the trail, I just wanted to go home. I wasn't feeling very social at the community center, where we spent the heat of the day lounging around waiting for cooler hiking weather. That probably made my situation worse. I started to feel like everyone had already buddied up but me. I hope to make friends out here- I'm already lonely and it's only a week in. I'm too social to do this without some friends along the way!
Finally left the community center around 430 and wound up at mile 115, about 6 miles in. It was a nice hike and my loneliness started to lift a little. I got a little more comfortable with the fact that I'll be gone for so long. Wound up camping at Agua Caliente at a lovely little site right next to a creek. There's another group here that seems pretty nice… Maybe we'll get to know them?! I'm feeling better tonight and hoping tomorrow will continue to improve. Most importantly, my feet are finally and hopefully officially on the mend! The time off was invaluable, and the new shoes seem great so far. Granted, we only hiked 6 miles, but any improvement is huge in my book. I definitely think I've got some plantar issues, but I'm hoping some easy mileage days like today will offer enough rest for the ole dogs!