(on the Mexican border after completing my PCT hike) 

(on the Mexican border after completing my PCT hike) 

What a day this turned out to be. It was cold and wet - a nice treat to keep the bugs away on my many many miles of ups. I got so mad at my Dad. You see, he sent me off on this hike with an iPod Shuffle full of his favorite music. Hundreds of depressing country western songs to help me with my recent breakup, and this was the day I decided to listen. Are you kidding me? Tears poured harder than the rain when Sinéad O'Connor came on... At least it helped me hike fast and hard. Thanks Pops!

When I reached my last pass and ridge walk, a lightning storm approached. It was close. Too close. Close enough to make me run. It's hard to predict when these electrical storms will hit, but the last place you want to be is on top of a fully exposed mountain. Naturally, the sun poured down just over the pass. I felt fantastic and strong, so I made and early dinner and decided to hike on for a 27 mile day. This would put me in perfect position for a light road walk into town for tomorrow's breakfast. Yes!

All was going according to plan until I saw a new storm system approaching. Black clouds and lightning filled the sky. I made it to my goal and quickly set up shelter just before the trail head. The rain crashed down as I snuggled into my sleeping bag at 10:00. Suddenly, I heard a car park and saw a flashlight pointed in my tarp. "Put your hands outside of the tent where I can see them and slowly exit."

I was hardly dressed when the Border Patrol officer approached and had me hug a nearby tree to keep out of the rain. I asked if I could get my jacket, but was denied the request for "his protection and mine." I waited about an hour for his backup to come so they could search my belongings. Shit... I didn't even have an open bottled of breakfast whiskey for them to find. At this point, everything is getting wet: clothes, sleeping bag, electronics. I was allowed to sit in the back of the truck while they ran my record. To be perfectly honest, though, I was all smiles and happy as a clam in the excitement of a new trail story. 

When my record came back clean, I asked for a hitch into town... seeing as he got all my belongings wet and it could be a cold dangerous night. Cha-Ching!!! On the ride into Eureka, he reminded me that he was just doing his duty, keeping us Americans protected, my tax dollars supported this safety service, etc. I smiled silently in the back seat, rolling my eyes at the thought of how dangerous and threatening I must have appeared. Ha! Really? Was all that necessary? I'm not complaining, because I was thrilled to get a ride into town where I'd find a warm dry bed. He asked how this experience compared with he Border Patrol near Mexico when I finished the PCT last year. Ha ha ha! Again, I didn't say much, but giggled as I remembered celebrating in champaign and taking photos with the BP down south! 

The Silverado Motel

Bill, the cook, was covering graveyard shift when I stumbled in like a wet dog and he accidental gave me a key to an occupied room. You should have seen the look on all of our faces when I opened the door. This day just keeps getting better! It was nearly midnight and Bill felt bad so he fired up the grill to make a peace offering; the most delicious, juiciest hamburger any hiker would kill for and two cold beers on the house. He goes on my favorite people list, not just for the food, but for the amazing company, too.

Jo let me do a load of laundry in the morning, and then Barb, the bartender, inspired me with her wisdom, stories and kindness. More to add to the favorite people list. Did I mention the sheets and towels? The softest, most comfy fabric of any trail motel I've ever seen. Again and again, I'm reminded that storms end with sun. If you ride it out with a smile, you'll be surprised how good everything works out on its own.