Mile 755 to 750
I wake thinking of Terri and finally ending this flip-flop. I feel very fortunate to have had such awesome Sierra weather, views and water, but I am frankly tired of explaining how I am heading to Canada by hiking south.
I believe it is technically the Sierra Mountains. It is not the Sierras. It is not the Sierra’s. It is the Sierra. After hiking from one end to the other, up and over all the PCT passes, it is difficult not to think of it as plural. Also, after falling in love with it all over again you might excuse me for being a bit possessive. It is hard to describe the jagged granite escarpments, frosted with snow and sprinkled with enough majestic trees to provide contrast and perspective, but not so many as to block the incredible vistas. In fact, just locate your electronic thesaurus and press and hold the superlative generator button. Whatever it spits out will most likely apply.
Today, however, the air is filled with smoke. There is clearly (or the opposite of clearly) a fire somewhere north of Crab Tree Meadow. But this is a northbounder’s problem and for this one last day I am a southbounder. I must look like a fireman rather than a thru-hiker, because every question I get is about the fire, as if I just walked out of the flames carrying a baby. I don’t have information to provide and I am trying to get to my own flame/baby.
I can hear coyotes saying goodbye, at least that’s what the howling sounds like to me. As I reach the Cottonwood Pass trail split I realize I am officially more than half way done with the PCT. I take a quick selfie at the signpost, and begin my race towards Terri. It is the longest 7 miles of my life.
The last time I went down this trail it was snowing, hailing, sleeting and raining, depending on my elevation. Water was seeping out of every rock and running down the trail. This time it is totally dry. Desert dry. Not even the seasonal streams are running. When I finally see Terri coming part way up the trail I hug her and steal her water bottle at the same time. My bottles have been empty for quite some time. In the car she asks if I would like another water bottle. Oh, please. I drink a chocolate milk, an iced coffee, a mango smoothy and later a Dr. Pepper.
Terri had stayed at a hotel in Lone Pine and arranged for a late check-out. That meant I can shower before the long drive. She also brought clean clothes for me which is great given the hotel only has one washing machine, which is broken. Funny because they aren’t usually broken until after I do a load.
On the drive to Chester we manage to eat several times and resupply food and stove fuel. Terri tries to turn on the radio, but I won’t let her. Maybe she does not want to hear my voice, but I want to hear hers.
Finally we arrive in Chester for a late check-in. I do laundry and trash the place sorting my gear and food. Terri wonders how thru-hikers ever share a room given I have taken over the entire place with just my stuff, which frankly should be very compact and light.