Each year the Rotary Club of Chester picks a day in July to set up a welcoming lunch site where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses Highway 32 just west of Chester.
This year that day was Thursday, July 26, and members welcomed about 40 to 45 PCT trekkers arriving at the mid-way point of their journey.
Most of the hikers were overwhelmed by the gesture and offered heartfelt thanks for the food and warm welcome.
In answer to the oft asked question “Why?” Rotary member Terry Johnson explained that the lunch was just a small expression of welcome to visitors from around America and the world and a way of letting everyone know this is a caring community even to those that don’t live here.
Indeed, almost every hiker that had come into town responded that they were amazed at the welcoming atmosphere they experienced in Chester and how kind townspeople were to give them a ride out to the trailhead.
The lunch menu included cheeseburgers, potato salad, chips, watermelon, brownie bars, milk shakes and other drinks.
For the Rotary members the event is a chance to serve others, but also an opportunity to meet and converse with people from across the United States and around the world.
In just a four-hour period there were folks representing Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Maryland, Oregon, Michigan and Maine along with Canada, South Korea, France and the United Kingdom, just to name a few.
The conversations included many fascinating stories regarding why they chose to take on the PCT challenge, stories about events along the trail and even how many received their “trail names.”
Most of the hikers are known only by their trail names and most of those stimulate the imagination.
Names like Stake, Pizza, Just Jon, Ladybug, Moon Burn and Rock Queen all have a story behind them and the names are usually not self-initiated.
Remembering that these are people who are taking roughly six months out of their lives to take on the 2,600-mile adventure, it is not uncommon to find many that have common backgrounds and/or careers with those of us living right here in Plumas County.
Activity in town from the PCT has been huge for the last two weeks or so and Chester is putting forth a hand of welcome.