As it was a long day yesterday And I had ample time to get to Chester today, I allowed myself to sleep a bit longer. At a hilltop I finally had cellular service again and looked for hotels and found that the one I wanted only had one room left (allegedly), but I thought I would take care of that when I got to town. Spent the next stretch of trail thinking about how much I had been looking forward to getting to town, I changed my mind and made a reservation for two nights once I got to the next mountain top. That felt nice. It is not like I have grown tired of hiking, but it has been nine days since I have had one day off.
A thing that didn’t feel as nice on the other hand was my left calf and Achilles tendon. It was better than yesterday but still not good, so whenever I walked up hill I did what I could to take the pressure off it using my trekking poles. In that way things went relatively smoothly.
While the first part of the day had some decent views, the less interesting part had me thinking in complex philosophical ideas. Like why do you call a mountain “Butt Mountain” like the one the trail was about to pass next to? Or, what is a butte, like the Sierra Butte, that we had passed earlier? What if what if we switched those two words? Would Sir MixALot “like bit buttes”, or “does this dress make my butte look big”. Deep stuff! The pronunciation of butte also had me thinking about an okd British television series with a “Miss Bucket” that she constantly had to insist was pronounced as “BEAU-KAY”. I think civilization will do me good. When I finally got to the side trail to Butt Mountain (which I didn’t take) a deer stood there showing off it’s behind as it cared more for the leaves on a bush than me.
Next, there was a long stretch where pines and the moss on them were seemingly the only living thing. No birds, insects, other animals, streams, gusts of wind, or other hikers were heard. It was utterly silent, which was somewhat eerie and something I had never experienced in the light of the day. It was just a completely immutable forrest. Time had no meaning.
I had intentionally not been looking at the map for a while as that makes the miles feel shorter, but felt hungry and had a lunch break where I had the little food that I had left. I then looked at the map and realized that I had taken a break just 300 feet from the PCT halfway monument! I quickly got to it, but didn’t feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment crossing it. It did light up my mood, though. There was a log book where I penned down my name. Didn’t recognize any of the other recent names. There was an average of twenty two entries per day over three days. At most fifty people are granted a permit for each starting date, but people don’t show up and many have been timing their pace so they got to the Sierras at a good time point, so I don’t think much can be concluded from that. The trail has slightly changed course since the monument was built, and there are uncertainty in measuring the trail, and the actual midpoint might be slightly off, but a few miles one way or the other doesn’t matter to me. Didn’t stick around for long. Didn’t meet others.
The last stretch of the day went a bit downhill and eventually my left leg started hurting more, but I got to the highway before it got really bad. Another hiker was half heartedly already trying to hitch from there until he eventually gave up stating that he hated hitching and would walk to town, which was seven and a half miles away. Shortly after another hiker was also trying to hitch, and it wasn’t long before a van pulled over and we both got a ride to town. I think it took me about twenty minutes to get the hitch. It was teenager and his mom, I think. Debbie and Denis? Anyway, they were from Chester and very friendly. I asked what the best place to eat was in Chester. He said at his home because his dad was an awesome cook :-). He liked Chester because it was small and relaxed. She was interested in the PCT, had been reading blogs, and thought that she had heard the other hiker, Pincushion, named in one of those. We thanked them many times as we got dropped off at the church and I walked to my hotel, which was nearby. At the supermarket, I stumbled upon a white wine from a winery in Sonoma that I had visited some years ago on the same trip where I visited Lee Vining. It went well with the two large microwave dinners and a pint of ice cream that I had for dinner as satiety finally came back to me and sleepiness likewise.
Halfway to Canada!
This days miles: 1307-1331