At some point last night, I heard other hikers set up camp near me. When I was packing up, sure enough, there were 3 other hikers who were cowboy camping in the same site. They must have hiked pretty late. Just as it took longer to set up last night, it took longer to break camp this morning.
I hit the trail at 6:15 am. About 3 hours in, I caught up to a hiker who looked very familiar. It was David (Plant), whose trail name is now Nirvana. It was great to see him! After 64 days of hiking, I caught up him. We hiked the rest of the day together, and it worked out perfectly. I was trying to do 31 miles, he was planning on hiking 27 miles, and I had camped 4 miles before him. As we hiked, we talked about how different our experiences have been on the same trail. The only way I was able to catch him was the fact that he and his group took 22 zero days. Because he was hiking the same pace I was, there is no way I would have caught up otherwise.
For Nirvana, the Sierras where more extreme than when I was there. They had to cut their steps in on most of the passes. He started the Sierras on May 24th and I started almost a month later, on June 21st. It was a completely different animal. We both agreed that our time there was like nothing we have ever done before and that it was one amazing experience. I was so engaged in conversation, that I really did not pay attention to the time or to the terrain. Although it was impossible not to see that we were getting closer to Mt Shasta.
Around noon, we ran into two others from his group - Snickers and Bandit. Nirvana had hiked with Snickers since day 2 on the trail. And Nirvana had a couple nights were it was impossible for him to set up his tarp in the desert and he had to crash in Snickers’ tent. The price, as I found out, was that Snickers gave him a hard time about it and probably will for the foreseeable future.
We made good time and got to camp at 5:50, the earliest I have arrived to camp in a while. After setting up camp, Snickers and Bandit caught up, and not too long after that a couple of deer came out and circled us. The app we use as a guidebook allows people to leave comments about points on the trail, and there are a couple of funny ones about where we are staying tonight.
It was awesome to see Nirvana again! He is one of my oldest friends. We met in Cub Scouts as Tiger cubs. Our friendship has lasted nearly 12 years. He and I went to Philmont together back in 2014 and he was with me for most of the Appalachian Trail. I hope we can hike a few more days together. I half-jokingly told people before the hitting the trail that I was going to catch him, not thinking that I really could. I am sure glad I did.