I crashed under a pavilion in Muscatine’s riverfront park. The place was empty other than a few people running over to use the bathroom and give me odd looks as I dragged equipment onto tables.
My sleeping bag still felt damp, the tent wouldn’t dry in the wet air, everything was a mess and would have meant another miserable night, but I didn’t care, none of it mattered.
Two hours later, the Looksha sat in a barn next to an Iowa cornfield. The tent lay spread out in a basement, and I curled on a couch in a farmhouse miles and miles from the river.
I met Gesh on the Pacific Crest Trail five years ago. We hiked together from the Andersons to Hikertown, if that means anything to you. Then I saw him again for a day or so in the Sierras, somewhere between VVR and Red’s Meadow.
That was it until today, until he pulled up in a white truck and hauled the boat and me off to his uncle’s farmhouse.
But time doesn’t matter to thru-hikers. Even after five years, a day or two on a trail and you’re family.