All day, I was chasing Any Minute and Far Out's tracks. They were clearly travelling together. Roughly 15 miles from my campsite, I met Dr Fierce reading by the riverbank. He said they'd all been fishing until an hour before, so I continued ahead to find the rest of the group.
On the other side of a large river crossing, I could see two hobbit-sized women sitting on a boulder. One called out, "It's Hustler! Don't cross on the left side!" On the left, there was a typical stream-crossing row of exposed rocks; it didn't look bad, but I figured they knew something I couldn't see. To the right was a large fallen log extending most of the way across, bolstered by a couple of smaller logs, one of which extended to the opposite bank. I always prefer rocks to logs, but I trusted Any Minute and Shazaam. Made it across with no issues, and approached the smiling duo.
Evidently, Any Minute had fallen in a few minutes before, drenching her phone. Trip photos, contacts, trail apps all gone. She was livid, but hid it fairly well. Nobody had rice, but we put the phone in oatmeal, hoping it might have a similar effect.
Maybe I wouldn't have caught up under normal circumstances, but things had grown complicated. Shazaam was injured and moving slowly, food was running short for her, Fierce and Church Lady, and Any Minute and Far Out had decided to help. Fishing had become a necessity, since food waa running out because of the slower pace. I chipped in some of my hiker box finds and immediately joined up. The boys seemed happy to have another confidante, Any Minute seemed happy to have a little comic relief.
We camped together near a stream and caught more fish for dinner. I boiled mine, pulled the bones, then mixed the fish and water with mashed potatoes. Far Out, the trekking pole fishing novice, caught 4 fish total, one of which was in the 14" range. Damned beginner's luck.
Though I ended up with a 23 mile day, their little group did far fewer and were not quite as exhausted as I was.