Day 41 – From Bird Spring Pass to Lake Isabella, mile 652

May 31st. Another early start for the push to Lake Isabella. Due to a 1500 feet climb, we got motivated to leave camp at 5.15am.

I had a really bad night, did not sleep much. The wind had kept me awake, shaking the tent that I did not really pitch sufficiently due to the loose ground. Learning… Better keep looking for a suitable spot to stake down the tent decently.

But the show had to go on… And I had to keep walking to make it to Lake Isabella tonight.

Red morning sky
Beautiful desert landscape in the early morning

The early morning climb at least offered breath taking views again. At the top around 7000 feet, I settled down for a coffee break.

Coffee and oatmeal with a view

After the climb, most of the remaining miles led even or even downhill through a beautiful landscape with more trees and shade again.

Coming to the highway around 3.30pm, we tried our best to hitch a ride to the 30+miles distant Lake Isabella.

After maybe 30 minutes we were lucky. A big RV that had passed us but seen my “PCT Hiker to town” sign came back minutes later and u-turned to take all of our group (8 hikers!) to Lake Isabella. Thank you very much! You guys were great!

We came to town, had fast food and split up. Some of us went to the campground, I voted with Cactass and Tinkle for the motel. Quick laundry and a relaxing evening.

Competence in water and soap?

I was really ready for some good and long night sleep…

Die Nacht bietet so ein faszinierendes Gefühl von Isolation. Nachts ist man frei, die Welt lässt Dich in Ruhe.

Day 40 – Landers Campground to Bird Spring Pass, mile 631

May 30. Got an good start, hit the trail at 6am. Slept super good. Second night in the new tent… Maybe it was the early time to go to bed…

The new tent is awesome. Actually bigger inside than the MSR. Pitching it was easy so far.

Rock formations in the morning sun

Today would be a day where we would be fully relying on water caches. There was only one off trail spring in case of emergency.

Hot day with soft sandy trail – not much shade today.

Only Joshua trees provide some shade

Carried two liters only, first stop after 7 miles at the the next water cache at mile 616. Took three liters from there for the 15 miles to the next water cache and planned tentsite for today at Bird Spring pass, mile 631.

At mile 621.5 is the 1000 KM marker… Now that’s an achievement… 😁👍🏻😜

1000km. #metricsystemrules

Lunch break at mile 622, combined with longer siesta. Limited shade, everyone tries to hide under a Joshua tree.

Sitting under a Joshua tree

Album of today: The Joshua Tree – U2

Bird Spring pass was very exposed in the wind. We were glad to see that there was sufficient water in the cache, bit finding a protected spot for the tents would not be easy.

I pitched mine at a not so optimal spot… The ground was really soft and the wind was strong. I tried to give additional hold for the stakes with several rocks… But not too much improvement. The tent kept flapping in the wind and I would have very little sleep that night.

Day 39 – Tentsite to Landers Campground, mile 609

May 29. Another early start around 5am. The new tent is good, but my sleep wasn’t.

Flowers in the early morning sun
Moon still shining at the desert

Today we would hit the 600 miles marker. It feels like hitting these 100 miles markers happens faster and faster. But it would also be a really hot day.

It was another climb to get to the 600 miles at about 5600 feet, later we would climb to 6300 feet. It feels like we are getting closer to the Sierra despite the heat.

600 miles and the crew

In the afternoon I walked finally through some forest providing shade – a truly very beautiful landscape.

Pitched my tent first, had my food prepared when the others came after a longer lunch break.

Not my day. Not enough sleep. Went to bed early.

Day 38 – Tehachapi to tentsite, mile 586

May 28. Enjoyed a last time the continental breakfast in the hotel. I called the trail angels Jeff and Kerry from the other day and they agreed to pick all 6 of us up at the hotel at 8.30am and get us to the trailhead at highway 85. We started walking around 9am.

Trees were providing shade from time to time. A welcoming break from the heat.

At lunch break, a Don Quixote challenged one of the many generators of the wind park we passed.

Check second windmill from the right

Two breaks before coming to the water at 17 miles. Many hikers, all needing lots of water. Last water in another 18 miles.

Water Filtering Get Together

It was already close to 6pm, so we voted to just go 2.5 more miles and dry camp around mile 586, even if that would make it not a 20 mile day.

Pitched my new tent for the first time. I love it.

First pitch – ZPacks Duplex
Yes, the bathtub is supposed to be looking like this

First Month Recap

May 27

Here I am in Tehachapi at mile 558 on the Pacific Crest Trail. 37 days on trail, more than 20% of the trail miles done – lots of great impressions and encounters. I am happy to share my recap.

My last recap has been a while. Keeping up the daily blogging gets difficult from time to time. Hiking days get longer, so finding time between hiking and eating and sleeping is not always easy. Please bear with me if some of the daily posts get shorter and shorter. I do this mainly for myself to remember this amazing time.

Right now, I am sitting at a computer in the Holiday Inn Express in Tehachapi, enjoying my second day off trail in a row.

Body

Doing great. I am taking two zero days in Tehachapi and in contrast to the last day off in Wrightwood, I am really glad for the break. While my cold seems to be gone for good, I had a blister at each heel developing during the last days. I want to let them heal and just enjoy doing nothing and having real food. I am a bit sore everywhere, but besides that, I am really doing well.

We did several 20+ miles days in a row and it feels sustainable. Starting early, we did two times 17 miles before 1pm. Everything below 20 is considered a short day now… 🙂

img_20180523_132823_187

Talking about distance and speed… I am still carrying my Withings Go Stepcounter. While I thought I lost it around Scissors Crossing, I found it days later at the bottom of my pack. It took quite exactly one month (April 21st to May 20th) for the first 1 million steps on the PCT. Walking for hours every day, my thoughts came up with this comparison: In my former office job, I averaged 3000-5000 steps a day. With 4000 steps a day, it would take me 250 days at the office to walk these 1 million steps…

Soul

The last weeks were great. Awesome views, so much laughter on trail. Great people. Good times. Special shout out goes to Oldtimer, he is such a cool guy. Hope I will run into you again. Thanks for the uplifting talks and your perspective. And Tinkle really likes her trail name. And the group has grown, with Excel and Deadzone we are now US, Swiss, British, New Zealandish and German. Also Josh and Daisy Dukes join the team from time to time.

I think I listen more to music if a day gets long or the uphill is too strenuous. After my very first rattlesnake encounter, I am more relaxed now listening to music even with both ear buds in.

Gear

As you use your gear daily, you figure things out. Everything has its place inside the pack, inside my pockets… In Wrightwood, I dropped two pairs of socks into a hikerbox since I did not use them. Yesterday was a big day in terms of gear… I finally received my ZPacks Duplex tent to replace my MSR Hubba Hubba. Both are two person tents, but the ZPacks just weighs 600 grams in comparison to 1.7 kg of the MSR.

cof

Now is the time to make up my mind with which gear I will go into the Sierra. There is just 150 more miles in the desert section. After that is Kennedy Meadows, then the altitude will go into the 10000+ feet area with some snow waiting in the Sierra. Besides the mandatory bear canister, I have my Lowa leather boots waiting at my friend Steven’s place to be shipped to Kennedy Meadows. And the NeoAir pad that was generously replaced by Cascade Designs.

Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail does not disappoint. For over a month now, it was been offering so much different landscapes and perspectives. Weather was really good and the change between dry sections, meadows and miles with trees keep things interesting.

I like hiking in higher altitudes for the cooler air and potentially more shade from the trees. The desert section is just another 150 miles. Then the High Sierra will begin and with that also the John Muir Trail (its 211 miles are for 90% identical with the PCT). I am very excited to get back into the Sierra. So many good memories on my JMT through hike in 2016. Greetings to the 2016 Starburst Team. 🙂

What did I learn so far?

Tempus fugit. Unbelievable – I am already hiking for more than a month.

With a bit of luck regarding the weather, the desert isn’t all that difficult.

Water is still precious.

It’s all about perspective.

It’s not really that far to walk up to the horizon.

Be a hero, take a zero.

What’s next?

In 7-10 days, I should have completed the desert section. Excited about the Sierra. No more worries about water availability. The trail will become a bit more technical. Looking forward to that.

Only the one who walks his own way can’t be overtaken.

Marlon Brando

Day 35 – From Tylerhorse Canyon via Springs Road to Tehachapi, mile 558

May 25. We had planned a very early start the day before, but that didn’t really work out. So today we woke up around 4am and hit the trail by at 5am. There were just 17 miles to the highway crossing that would take us with hitchhiking to Tehachapi and with that to the long anticipated break… Food, laundry, shower…

We have been constantly increasing the daily mileage… so even this 17 miles day feels like half a day or a nero. 😉

After some more altitude gain, the trail descended constantly with a view on a very big wind farm.

Song of today: Come on, come on – Billy Idol

My blister still hurt, but the thought of a break in Tehachapi helped pushing forward. We made it to the highway crossing around 1pm… and as usual, getting a hitchhike was no problem at all. Thank you Tehachapi citizens for being so hiker friendly!

fbt
Hitchhiking with two dogs on the back seat. Everyone is happy, and the dogs enjoyed licking some dirty and sweaty hikers…
cof
Food at Denny’s just opposite of the hotel

After lunch checking in to the Holiday Express, I picked up my new home for the next 5 months… My ZPacks Duplex tent! 😁 So excited…

Left: MSR Hubba hubba (1.7kg), right: Zpacks Duplex (0.6kg)

We didn’t really do much in the evening. After dinner at Subway’s, everyone was just exhausted. Two more lazy days in town with lots of food, rest and a movie or two to come.

Day 34 – From Highway 138 crossing to Tylerhorse Canyon campground, mile 542

May 24. Got up at 4am, quick breakfast at the market. Since they feed all about 10 hikers camping there, it took a bit longer than planned. Driving to the trail head from Wee Vill Market was planned at 5am, with the breakfast taking longer than expected, we actually made it to trail at 6am.

The famous aquaduct walk was waiting and with that normally one of the hottest sections of the PCT. Temperatures in the 100s F/ 40s C are common – but we were once again lucky with the weather. No shade though, so still not an easy day.

It was 17 miles on very flat terrain to the only water source, we had planned totally 24 miles for that day.

First break after 10 miles, at 9.30am, with little shade. We covered the 17 miles until 1pm. Filtering the water, a long rest under a bridge followed. Probably 20 hikers were waiting out the hottest hours there.

What’s the difference between a homeless person and a PCT hiker?
There is none. 😂🤣

We started walking at 3.30pm again, last 7 miles to Tylerhorse Canyon Campground. Arrived 6.15pm. Quickly pitched tent after this long and hot 24 miles day.

My newly acquired two blisters were painful. Happy to get to town tomorrow and enjoy the planned zero day. This time I feel I need it to rest and take care of my blisters.

Amazing day. Went out of my comfort zone again. Thank you PCT.