Rick McCharles stops by Rick McCharles is back in town today — on my couch, to be specific about it — though he’s catching an afternoon flight to the Pacific Northwest for another in his never-ending string of adventures.

Rick was an essential hand (and legs) for the 4WheelBob expedition who twice helped sherpa Bob’s gear to new campsites. Like me he underestimated Bob’s bound-and-determined attitude toward summiting, but as the daylight waned on the last day and Bob wondered if he could reach the top before dark, Rick assured him it was doable.

In the odd-connections-make-things-happen department: Bob might never had enjoyed such encouragement if it hadn’t been for the USA Gymnastics Nationals in San Jose the week before. Rick was in town for a consulting gig (he helps Cirque du Soleil recruit acrobats) during the tournament; originally he planned to hike the whole John Muir Trail afterwards, but changed his mind at the last minute and decided to tag along with me to see how Bob would fare.

In another such connection: Cheryl Norlin told me she and her husband, Greg, were planning on taking a backpacking trip that same week, but a fire in Santa Barbara left the Sierra too cloudy and smoky to get good pictures (she’s a serious photography buff) so they, too, changed plans at the last second and went to White Mountain.

Our weather was so perfect that somebody had to pay the karmic price. Rick did, with days and days of rain and hail along the JMT last week — weather left over from Hurricane Dean. He arrived at the San Jose train station walking lightly on feet that took a blistering because they didn’t get dry for days at a time.

We’ll be looking forward to Rick’s accounting of his California mountain travels.