The last day of a hike is almost always the same: everyone is up early and ready to go. I am sure it is for various reasons: getting that food one has been picturing in one's head as a reward for the hike (mine is a vanilla shake), getting a shower, getting back to loved ones. In our case we had a second incentive: the gentleman we had left behind at this campsite had hiked out and gone home and taken with him the bear can that had our breakfast in it. Thus, beyond the remnants of snacks we carried with us, getting out was also our road to food.
The day was thankfully clear and bright and was the first day of the hike that we did not have any rain, although the signs that it had rained while we were gone were present: the trail was much muddier and streams were running a little higher.
In what was a bit of an unusual practice for me, I struck a conversation with one of the guys on the hike I had not really talked to before. He was a pilot but he did not start out as one; talking to him about his journey and how he got there was interesting and really made the miles fly by.
By 1100 AM we had all cleared the trail and were ready to head back.
Heading back is typically the same experience for every hike: to a greater or lesser extent, the vehicle smells like a badly maintained high school locker room. Everyone is generally quiet, either in reflection or sleep or looking at pictures - and then the buzzing and pings of phones fill the air as we come back into range.
Civilization has returned to find us.
Lunch is usually at a local place. We sit and wolf down calories (sadly, they did not have shakes at a reasonable price) and reflect, sharing pictures or being surprised by what has gone in the world while we were away.
In this case after lunch we went back to the cabin we started at where we get to indulge in that most pleasant of activities, a hot shower. You cannot believe how good a hot shower feels after 5 days of not having one. With that, we all begin to slip away one by one as we head back to our lives and the "real world".
The drive back takes about 4 hours. The Outdoorsman, The Brit, and I chat about the hike and the high and low points (Interestingly, The Outdoorsman shared that one thought he had when we were going up the Wall was who would be "better" to lose: myself or The Brit. We all agreed that based on who he would have to report to - with The Brit my sister and his daughter - I was the logical one to lose).
The yellow square in the picture above is Mt. Goddard from the trailhead. It always amazes me when I am able to find pictures of where I have been from the starting point; it seems so far away.
It is always good to hike, but it is also always good to come back home.