Day 95 – From Domingo Lake to Hat Creek, mile 1367

July 24.

Slept pretty well, got up 5.30am. Taking down my tent became a challenge – the ground was so dense that I could not get some stakes out. Had to dig them out. With that, I was late and decided to have breakfast on the go. Started hiking 6.15am, chewing on a poptart and later a cliff bar.

Came back to trail quickly and entered Lassen NP.

Boiling springs were the first volcanic sightseeing spot.

Chatting with another hiker Bottomless.

Came to Drakesbad at 8.30am – just in time for breakfast. One hot plate with scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy and all you can eat from the buffet – including yogurt, fresh fruits… PCT discount was just 9.75usd. 😎Shared the table with two other PCT hikers.

Moved on 9.30am – need to do at least 20 miles today to get out of Lassen NP, possibly a bit more if I want a tentsite with water.

Lunch break at Lower Twin Lake, mile 1355 at 1pm. 13 miles done, decent.

Walking for miles through the burnt dead forest. A breeze coming towards me is welcome – quite a heat today. But the sweating is better than yesterday – I feel I am getting back my strength.

Suddenly a loud crack and a big branch drops next to a dead tree to the right of the trail. I startle – but it was nothing.

That breeze is maybe the reason why I nearly run into a deer. It is just standing there, maybe 5 meters in front of me and seems to be sniffing. I quietly talk to it and it jumps away.

I have to pass through Lassen NP on one day since bear canisters are required for overnight wilderness usage. And I have sent my canister away right after Sonora pass – like probably 99% of all hikers.

Cactass and Tinkle had even seen a bear with cubs when walking through Lassen NP two days earlier.

After talking this photo, I was looking at the trees for a while. I took a sip of water and turned back to the trail when I saw a big black bear strolling towards the trail, this time maybe 30 meters away. Taking out my camera, I started quietly talking to the bear. The bear stopped, looked in my direction and lifted his nose to sniff. And again – with the wind coming towards me, it seems he couldn’t identify me. For a few moments, it just looked at me like. I coughed. It ran. Wow. Now I know why they say don’t run from a black bear. Despite the size, it ran away fast through the forest with branches cracking.

Short break at the border of Lassen NP at mile 1363, 4.30pm. 21 miles so far – all other miles today are optional.

Made it 6.30pm to a tentsite at Hat Creek. Pitched my tent, washed in the river (again! 😜), also rinsed my shirt. Hat chafing issues under my left arm again – might be the salt from too much sweating. While eating mashed potatoes as dinner I realized that I am still not very hungry. Strange – considering the 25 miles of today. Might have to do with the long break I had due to my cold.

Good day – more miles than I thought. I feel tired, but from the walking, not the cold.

Day 94 – From Chester to Domingo Lake, mile 1342

July 23.

Small breakfast in motel room, then went to the post office to send two packages to Ashland.

Eager to go back to trail. Hitchhiking the 7.5 miles to trail. Shared the hitch with Twerk, Hotpants and the three French.

9.45am on trail.

10.45am at Stover spring, 1332

12 miles left to Lassen NP border. Let’s see how close I will get.

1pm lunch at North Fork Feather River, mile 1338.

Plan to hike about 5 more miles close to the Lassen NP border. Will take enough water for dry camping.

I decided for a little adventure. Domingo lake looked tempting on the map, is however half a mile off trail and not really accessible from the PCT. I did some bushwhacking to a jeeproad that led to the lake. At the end of the lake, a beautiful space for camping, a fire pit… And the very beautiful lake – it seems I will have that all for myself. 😎

Big dragonflies dancing over the lake.

Pitched my tent at 4.30pm, spent the afternoon lying in the grass at the lake. Washing my feet and legs.

Mountain House dinner – Chicken Teriyaki, only the best to get fully recovered soon.

Day 90/91/92/93 – Resting in Chester

July 19 to 22.

Sitting in a motel with a sore throat and fever. Not my idea of a zero day, especially not 4! And not even working WiFi in the room… 😂

I spent the time eating cold&flu medicine, lots of fresh food, sleeping and – I admit – watching Netflix.

It worries me how much I miss being on trail. The fresh air, the cool morning before sunrise, the views, the ever changing landscape that always has a surprise for you….

Taking this unplanned stop also means I am a couple of days behind my plan. And I will be hiking solo for the next days since Cactass and Tinkle have a head start of two days.

That’s good and bad. We were really getting along very well and after hiking together for more or less three months, you get to know each other. So much laughter with both of them. And we kept motivating each other.

On the other hand, I am also excited for some solo time. I am eager to find out how much I have recovered from my flu and how many miles I can do hiking by myself.

I plan to head out tomorrow Monday July 23. Fever seems to be gone, still coughing though.

Day 89 – From Tentsite via Belden to Chester, mile 1329

July 18.

Started hiking at 6.15am.

Beautiful views in the morning light helped to push forward…

We covered the remaining about 13 miles to Belden quickly, came to a train crossing at Belden at 11am. As several times before, the PCT crosses the rails. There are not barriers or underpass – you just cross. In our case, there was a typical very long freight train parked on the rails.

We waited maybe 20 minutes for the train to move, killing the time eating wild raspberries.

Three other hikers didn’t have the patience and climbed over the train to the other side. We hesitated quite a while – but at the end did the same thing, carefully checking the other rails on more trains. On the other side, we hitched to an RV park Caribou Crossings where we had a resupply package waiting. Finally the opportunity for a shower, laundry and a burger!

I decided to give my body a rest and have time to get over the flu with fever that I had been fighting with for the last three days on trails. Belden not being a real town, I intended to hitchhike into the next town Chester, basically skipping 2,5 days ahead. The girls Cactass and Tinkle would continue hiking and arrive in Chester later.

It took three hitchhikes to get me to Chester. All of the rides were with really nice people.

First ride was pickup of a middle aged couple. They stopped and apologized that they want to take me, but have no space in the cabin. I volunteered to ride in the open back, thankful for the ride. They gave me nectarines, cookies – after dropping me at the Y towards Quincy/Chester, we had a nice chat about hiking. At that highway crossing, I ran into Sea Bass, another German hiker who I had hiked with several times before.

Second ride was a 40ton semi, what a cool experience.

The driver was a guy with a similar beard like me, we had a really nice chat on the road.

He dropped me at Canyondam where I got my third hitch from an older guy. We was just getting out of a semi and offered me a ride in his SUV to Chester. It turns out he was a retiree riding the semi with his son. We spoke about finding priorities in life. Having lost his wife recently and suffered several heart attacks, he was proud to have taken the right decisions just recently to get his health in order. I told him my story about quitting my job to be able to hike the PCT. Even just chatting for 20min, we got along really well. He encouraged me and congratulated me for my courageous decision – saying that there is no other place I should be but on the trail right now. Wow.

Found a cheap motel in Chester. Bought food, cold&flu medicine… Got to bed early. Hope I will recover soon.

Day 88 – From Middle Fork Feather River to tentsite, mile 1273

July 17.

Slept ok probably also thanks to the Ibuprofen, but woke up all sweaty from my 5am alarm. Turned around one more time, finally got up at 5.15am.

Keep thinking about that I just have to make it to Belden… Today about 25, tomorrow another 10-15 miles. Then I can reassess my cold and decide what to do…

Today is gonna be tough. A climb from 3000 to 6000 feet altitude – probably again around 30 degrees Celsius and that cold or flu.

Left camp 6.45am. Around 10am I had close to 9 miles done. Not too shabby considering.

Reached the top at 6000 feet around 10.45am.

The horizon was hazy with smoke. We met some dayhikers who confirmed that there are forest fires further west causing the smoke. But we should be fine considering that we continue to head North, the PCT is not affected.

We kept hiking but I had trouble pushing it to 25 miles. Considering that we would have just 10-15 miles tomorrow, we settled for 23 miles today and pitched our tents at mile 1273.

I got into my tent quickly, trying to get as much rest as possible. Ibuprofen to help sleep. Feels like the cold is getting worse.

Day 87 – From tentsite to Middle Fork Feather River, mile 1250

July 16.

Alarm woke me at 5am, started walking at 6.20am.

My cold got worse just as I was afraid it would. It got into my throat. Not much I can do. I need to keep pushing 25 miles a day to make it with the food I have to the next town Belden – then I will see what to do.

Lunch at 15 miles at 12.30pm at mile 1241.

We came across the 2000km marker. Crazy. Time and miles (or kilometers) are passing so quickly now. Feels like just some time ago that we passed the 1000km marker.

My longest trail was the Kungsleden in North Sweden so far. Considering that this was just 440km – I have just hiked 4.5 times that far. And this is not half way of the PCT yet…

Since we didn’t have a good shower or laundry since too long, we were eager to camp next to a bigger creek. The Middle Fork Feather River was perfect – we camped right next to the river at mile 1250 and did some laundry. The girls took a dip in the rather warm river – I refrained with my cold from that.

Took 1000mg Ibuprofen – will hopefully help with sleep and recovery. Not feeling so good. Hiking 20+ miles in the heat with fever is not ideal.

Day 86 – From tentsite to tentsite, mile 1227

July 15.

Morning light – magic colors

Started 6.30am. We came along a new section of the PCT. The new trail is actually 2.5 miles longer than the old trail. It messed up a bit our mile counting – and my HikerBot app was confused too. 😂

Morning break at mile 1210 at 10am. Considering the detour/new PCT, this is actually 1212 – so 9 miles this morning. Not too shabby.

Lunch break at mile 1217 at the A Tree Spring, 1pm. 17 miles done at lunch – Nice. Just 8 left for today, no need to overdo it.

Pitched our tents early, this was a good day regarding the hiking. But I feel like I caught a cold. Hope it doesn’t get worse.