The next morning: Casey wakes up with someone in his room, a young indie-rock looking guy in leather and a t-shirt. He wants to know what Odin said to Casey and the others last night. When Casey tells him, his only comment is “that’s fucked up.” He gives Casey a newspaper whose headline reads “Mt Rainier Park Closed; Search for Killer Progresses”. He hints broadly that Odin made the same request, and that he turned him down, and that Casey can and perhaps should say no as well. His name is Tom. He says he broke into Casey’s room because he needed to make sure “They”, “the fucking gods, him, Dad” were not around. “How fucking far did you travel for this shit?” This guy clearly has serious father issues. “Just… fuck them.” When Casey mentions the flooding, Tom looks utterly baffled; he has no idea about this, and acts like this is all serious News from Neptune. “They tell you this crazy shit and you believe it?” Casey shows him the self-writing book. Tom is still skeptical. “Maybe they are the gods, but they’re shitty people. Look, anything goes on, you don’t like it, maybe you think these guys are completely full of shit… here.” He gives Casey a card with a local number on it and lets himself out.
The paper says that there’s a manhunt in Rainier; it’s the top story. A park ranger was shot and killed late on New Year’s Eve (it is now the morning of Jan 2). It’s believed the killer is still loose in the park and hasn’t been found.
Zhou knocks on everyone’s doors around 8:30, and everyone troops into the lobby. He collects contact info from everyone. Casey tells everyone about his encounter with Tom. The group fills Zhou in on the quest for the box. They eat breakfast and Zhou’s associate picks up the party and takes them to an REI. The shop assistant is quick to warn the group against going up Mount Rainier, what with the serial killer and all. She has no idea what to make of this group. Hilarity ensues until Dayna assures her that everyone knows what they’re doing and everything is fine. At the end Zhou has spent a lot of money and is a member of the REI coop, and the group has everything they could conceivably need for the upcoming hike.
During lunch Raahi spots a TV news item about someone being found dead of exposure in a creek in the national park. The story is being cast as a lone nut suffering from PTSD from military service. Zhou suspects that the dead man is probably a ruse set up by the real killer to take the blame and allow himself an escape route.
The group makes a plan to hike out to the destination. Zhou obtains a walkie-talkie for every party member, and two untraceable handguns and a similar rifle. They head out to a motel at the foot of the mountains, planning to make a fresh start for the Paradise camp early in the morning. The town the motel is in is mourning for the park ranger, who was apparently well known in the area.
In the morning, the party clears the police cordon around the park by posing as civilian experts, with a little helping hand from Zhou’s God’s Honest. They arrive in Paradise sometime later; it’s empty except for a few cops. Zhou talks to a police officer and mentions that they’ve been tasked with collecting information somewhere between the peaks, and that their driver will be staying at the visitor center while they’re out in the field. The party sets out on the path, walking slowly while they find their feet. After awhile they arrive at the treeline, where they’re confronted by the immense white slope of the mountain’s twin peaks.