In section J of the Pacific Crest Trail, at mile 1140 on Halfmile’s great maps, I met a thru hiker on his way south. A young man, alone, completely comfortable with the trail, and making steady if slow progress. He said he’d just been cheered by passing the 1500-mile mark — that meant he was clearly more than half done, he knew he would finish. And, he stressed in a modest way, he was having a good time. He liked California. He was from Minnesota.
“You flew all the way out here to walk the PCT?”
“Yeah I did,” he said. He sat at ease, eating the classic modern hiker meal, the instant mashed potatoes with whatever, just enjoying it. He was having his dinner by a great water source, a strong spring, a spring that actually turns out to be the headwaters of a great (if often dammed) river, the American River.
We got to talking and I asked him his name and he told me and gestured with his utensils. Chop sticks is what I heard in my mind, but I am told by a reliable source — Hike Alone — that what he actually said was Chop stakes.
Which of course they are. A wit!
(I was a little too dense to get it at that moment, but note that I did get permission to take Mr. Stakes’ picture, and told him where to come find it some day.)