Camping: Seneca Motel, Chester, CA off PCT mile 1334.2
I stood outside of Cheeseburger’s tent saying his name in the fashion of the same named trail bird (it’s call sounds like it is saying, “cheeseburger, cheeseburger”). I had been instructed to wake him up with no exceptions, and based on how difficult it had been for me to break out of my restful slumber among the shady pines, I knew he would be hard to wake. Eventually he started grunting and asked, “is it that time already?”
“Yes it is, let’s go to town!” I said, trying to match my voice to my level of excitement to get there. I needed a day of rest, not to mention a real resupply. There was also a package waiting for me with a titanium spork (I shouldn’t be able to break that one) and a new stuff sack since mine had ripped. New gear is pretty exciting, and so is coffee. I have learned a valuable lesson about my relationship with caffeine these last few days, and I will honor it more seriously from here on out.
I reached the halfway point after an easy 5 miles, ready to include second breakfast in the celebration. It was a moment of great anticipation for me, and I was overwhelmed with a great sense of pride. We have hiked 1,325 miles, climbed 250,000 ft in elevation, passed through many state and national parks, seen several monuments, wildlife, mind blowing scenery, met amazing people, visited amazing towns…and that’s only the half of it. They say the second half goes by fast and it should take one less month to complete. It’s bittersweet at best, and though I’m excited to complete my goal, I am not ready to say goodbye to this experience yet (especially the people). I want to hold onto all of it forever, knowing that even the bad parts now will be preferred to bad days in “regular life.” I know I will look back on blister pain, hot sun, sweaty climbs, getting slapped in the face with tent poles, etc and long to return. Now more than ever, I am savoring this journey.
I kept this in mind, blissfully walking down the trail, knowing half of it was behind me. I inhaled the fresh air; the piny, organic smells, and breathed in the scenes around me. It was a good day, they all are really. I’m feeling more confident than ever that I can finish this, despite my ornery feet. I will figure it out and I will march on, successful in my endeavor.
We made it to the highway by noon and found several coolers of trail magic. I had an orange soda and Cheeseburger had a root beer, then we went to the side of the road with our thumbs out. Cars whizzed by, the sun reflected off the asphalt onto our bodies, and time ticked away, making our arrival at the post office later and later. We both had boxes waiting, and we would otherwise have to wait until Monday to pick them up. I secretly hoped for the excuse to take a zero, but also knew it would be best to expedite.
After 20 minutes, a nice local woman stopped to give us a ride 8 miles into Chester. She left us at the post office, and we did what we could to get the attention of the worker in back. The window wasn’t open, but someone was there filling PO boxes. We tried in vain to get her attention, with little luck. I was ready to give up and hunt down some breakfast, but Cheeseburger wanted to give it one more try. Luckily he was successful this time, and soon our boxes were wrapped in our loving arms. I even had a bonus box from my dear friend,Andy! So exciting! We went to the all day breakfast restaurant and sat on their patio with our loot and packs. We were still dirty from the trail, but also feeling the vigor of town.
After breakfast, we were surprised to learn that all but one of the hotels was booked for the night. The only one available had no AC, no wifi, and had bad reviews online. With no other option, we made our way over. Our friends were still on trail, and we weren’t sure about making a decision for the group. We debated shortly, but at a mere $85/night, we went for it. The room had 3 beds and a shower, so it filled our basic needs for cheap. As we began the routine of showers and such, Danger Spoon and CrackerJack arrived.
Soon enough we were reunited with Ninja, Landfill, Apache, Blisster, String Cheese, Half Dome and friends Andy and Emily who visited us in Tahoe! It is CrackerJack’s birthday and we are all in good spirits. Our celebration is mellow as not all of us are drinking, but it is merry. These are the times that I feel whole on this trail, aching feet included. These are the times I want to wrap up in my arms and heart and hold onto forever. I love these people, this life and this feeling of being complete. I am happy. Oh, so happy.