Mile 1328 to 1309
We enjoy our last Chester breakfast buffet then check out of the hotel. Five of us head to the highway to hitch the 8 miles to the trail. We put Klutz, the only female, in front. Sexist yes, but it also works. A truck with a second bench seat pulls out of the gas station and stops. It is a retired Vietnam vet who has come to our rescue, and amazingly he has room for all five of us and our packs. On the way he shows us X-rays of his foot, where a disease caused by agent orange has destroyed his bones. It looks as though his bones have all been replaced by rods and pins. We thank him for his service and the ride.
It is great to be hiking again, though strange to be headed south. The pine needle covered forest floor feels great on our feet. This section of trail has been little used, and is littered with branches and fallen trees. I thought earlier sections were obstacle courses, but they got nothing on this section.
We arrive at the halfway post. It is supposed to be halfway between Mexico and Canada, though the trail mileage has been recalculated and adjusted, so it is not exactly in the right place. For us it doesn’t matter. We are headed south and have not yet completed this section. For us the post is just a reminder that we are not getting to do the trail in the order we had hoped.
We encounter several northbound hikers, but none that made it through the high passes. These are thru-hikers that also scrambled out of the storms and have skipped the Sierras. They all had stories of whiteouts and freezing blizzards. Instead of doing this section south, they plan to hike from Tahoe north to Oregon, then come back and do this later.
One of the hikers mentions that there are plenty of morel mushrooms ahead. BLT has experience with mushrooms and gathers a full bag of them. The rest of us pass, preferring to risk our lives with pre-packaged Pasta Sides and instant mashed potatoes.
We arrive at a suitable camp, and pitch our tents just as it starts to rain. The rain is on and off. BLT cooks his mushrooms, while we practice both CPR and digging shallow graves with little poop shovels.
As soon as we are done with dinner, it begins to rain with a vengeance. We are still glad to be out of the snow and freezing temperatures. We hope for sunny days ahead, to dry our gear and to begin melting the snow now blocking our passes.