Getting off the trail when you’re not ready is like waking up from a dream you’re not finished having. I feel incomplete. I keep thinking about my new trail friends and where they are now.
Every day I’m not hiking, I sense the contents of my pack growing a little hazier; my familiarity with the trail maps just a little more faint. I don’t want to return to the “real” world. I’m frustrated. Who needs shins anyway?
After six days of ice packs and TLC, my ankle is like new and Sandy shuttles me back to Deep Creek where I had exited the trail.
It now seems like a familiar film, but with a whole new cast. I feel slightly different. Has the terrain also changed?
I arrive at Deep Creek Hot Springs right before sunset. There had been fire closure on this part of the trail and it has only just opened to PCT hikers again. I’m thrilled this is the case. It’s amazing! People have created different pools of different temperatures. I can’t help but jump in the clear water and swim with a duck, a dog, a little fish, and quite a few locals experimenting with psychedelics (which made my decision to camp there overnight funny, but maybe not the best.)