People of the PCT: Chop Stakes

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.

Chop Stakes at the headwaters of the American River on the Pacific Crest Trail
Chop Stakes at the headwaters of the American River on the Pacific Crest Trail

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.)

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