Saturday, July 14, 2012

14 July - Day 84 - Sliding into home

From Cold Springs (Mile 1308.8) to Hwy 36 at Chester (Mile 1335.2)

Total PCT Miles Hiked Today: 26.4

Pan here.

Passed the PCT Midpoint Marker today!

Miles have been added to the PCT since this was erected, so this monument isn't actually in quite the right place -- but it's close, and it's an important symbol and psychological milestone. We felt it powerfully as we sat there letting the detail and enormity sweep over us of our experience on the 1350 miles of trail behind. Wow. It was sobering, too, seeing how relatively few names are signed in so far~~ we thought of the ones ahead of us who have quit the trail ("They've gotten off trail"). And we imagined we could see the few hundred behind us scattered here and there back across the miles of our imaginations. How were they doing? Were they doing their miles? Were they feeling strong?

We hiked hard today all day from an early breaking of camp so we could get to the Chester trailhead in enough time not to impose on our trail angel by showing up at the last minute. We hiked a marathon by 4pm - faster than we'd ever done, skipping water and rest breaks, and snacks and lunch.
Go, go, go. We caught up to Dirty Brown and Anteater, as well as Steamer, who have been ahead of us since VVR in the Southern Sierras. And we caught up to Calf, as well.

Earlier this year while we were still planning the hike, the Chester Trail Angel, Piper's Mom, contacted me & invited us to come stay at her place if we got this far. We exchanged several delightful e-mails, and I knew Meridith was someone I reeeeeally wanted to meet.

At the crossing of the PCT with the highway, many thru-hikers congregated around Piper's Mom's Trail Magic coolers. Many continued on toward Drakesbad -- and several were headed into Chester. Dirty Brown & crew were headed on. Qball was just coming into Chester to pick up some food then return to the trail (I think of the "Beards" were behind us on the trail coming up fast). Moonshine, Pilf, and Malarky passed us as we waited.

Piper's Mom snapped this photo of us before we climbed into her SUV. Calf joined us at Piper's Mom's place -- and Qball just grabbed a ride into town with us to do a quick restock. [Photo courtesy of Piper's Mom]

Piper's Mom drove up to the trailhead and brought us back to her beautiful home close to Lake Almanor. Wow. We met Meridith's husband, Lowell -- great guy -- and then we got the orientation tour for showers, laundry, and the fridge full of beer, juice, soda, etc. Such an impressive and lavish setup for thru-hiker hosting! And after we got laundry going and our bodies washed, we had some relaxing down time with beer and sitting on the patio overlooking their immaculate yard.

When our Angel served the huge supper, we were ready.

All scrubbed up and at the feast! [Photo courtesy of Piper's Mom]
Great evening of excellent food & wine combined with lively, really interesting conversation restored us weary, shabby thru-hikers to nearly a human state! [oh, what our gracious Meridith & Lowell no doubt had to put up with; our table manners have deteriorated to the nearly Paleolithic; the wine went to our heads and we blathered cheerfully on, stupid from our exertions and giddy to be surrounded by such yummy pleasures and so much warmth.] Thank you, Meridith & Lowell, for welcoming us home for the night! As we drifted off to sleep on the patio under a mountain night sky, we agreed that Piper's Mom shines as one of the brightest stars among the constellations of Trail Angels. (And the Universe seems to quite agree.)

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