We were so smug. We saw a storm coming, our feet hurt, we ate too much at McDonald's, and a hot tub at the Courtyard Marriott was just too tempting. We told ourselves, out loud, over and over, that we were making the right decision to stay back, get a hotel room, let the snow storm hit the mountain (and our friends), and head out the next day. Well, the next day is today and we got nailed by a thunderstorm full of hail, snow, driving winds, and a slick mountain trail.

So smug.

Roi was not a happy camper. His hands were so cold that he couldn't take off his gloves, open his pack, or set up his tent. Israeli's don't do cold apparently.

Paul was OK in his rain skirt, but despite his waterproof shoes, his feet were soaked. So were mine, but I loved every minute of the storm. I laughed like a lunatic every time it got worse. Think Lieutenant Dan.

We started out crushing miles. Like 15 minute miles for about an hour and a half. 10000 calories the day before was a good base of energy to draw from. We started to near the valley floor and it was then that we caught sight of a massive, gray curtain being dragged across the desert. We were about to get slammed with what we thought was a thunderstorm. There was some rumbling in the sky. I turned around to ask Paul if he heard the sound, but before I could get it out he yelled "Keep moving!" I got the hint. We nearly ran across the valley floor, quickly rummaged through our packs for rain gear, and tossed it on. It was then that I started to grin. Like ear to ear grin. This was gonna be awesome. A snow storm? In the desert? Yes please, and I'll have another.

After hours of hail, snow, driving winds, and wet snow, my shoes were pools of near freezing, sloshing water. I couldn't feel my toes, which in some sense was fine because it meant no blister pain. Yay! 12 miles of uphill trail and 2000 feet of elevation gain later, we arrived at our goal. But, like a cosmic joke, there was already a tent there and a gravely, grouchy voice emanating from within. It was John, Roi's arch-nemesis, comfortably parked in our target camp site. Roi and John get along fine, but are constantly giving each other grief. Roi, as frozen as he was, started to laugh out loud as we listened to the voice of John finish a phone conversation in his tent. We both started howling with laughter as John says something like "I gotta go. I think that Roi character just showed up."

This is what I wanted the PCT to be: a friend and an adversary that can teach me who I am, or will be. I laughed at a freezing snow storm today, and then walked right through it. Twelve miles of nothing but uphill and I was grinning the whole way. My feet are frozen and I am still smiling.