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 73 – From tentsite via highway 108 crossing to Bridgeport, mile 1017 – Video Journal

July 2.

Today just about 10 miles were planned… We discussed whether to go to Kennedy Meadows North or Bridgeport for resupply. For both destinations, hitchhiking from mile 1017 is needed. While Kenney Meadows North is just a pack station/resort, Bridgeport is a real town with general store, post office etc. We opted for Bridgeport.

I took several video clips today to show you a typical day on trail for me. Hope you find this interesting.

Some more impressions of the day coming to Sonora pass…

Song of the day:

Dreaming free – Bora York

One of the best days on trail. At the crest, we walked into clouds with thousands of butterflies… Seems they were migrating. I never experienced anything like this before – so much beauty in nature. Check out the video.

I am so thankful for experiencing this. And the whole trail. It took quite some courage to take the time for this. Days like today make it worth it.

Day 59 – From Tentsite at mile 826 to Tentsite short before Muir Pass, mile 836

June 18.

Since we only wanted to approach Muir pass, we could afford a slow morning. Woke up short before 7am, was greeted by a deer standing right next to my tent.

Hit the trail 8.30am. Saw many deers on the trail. Ascend towards Muir pass starts slowly.

No traveler, whether a tree lover or not, will ever forget his first walk in a sugar-pine forest. The majestic crowns approaching one another make a glorious canopy, through the feathery arches of which the sunbeams pour, silvering the needles and gilding the stately columns and the ground into a scene of enchantment.
– John Muir

Break at a river rock bed. Beautiful.

Lunch break around 12pm at Big Pete meadow, mile 833, 9200 feet.

Hiking to the last listed tentsite at 11000 feet at mile 836 – just 2 miles and 900 feet altitude away from the pass. This will put us in a good position to go over the pass early avoiding too much snow melting and with that postholing.

Muir Monster

Coming closer to Muir pass…

Enjoying the view, chilling in the sun.

Listening to music…

Song of day: Passenger – In the end

Dinner at 6pm. Enjoying a Mountain House dinner instead of the cheaper options from Knorr or mashed potatoes… So good!

In tent before 7pm. Will get up tomorrow at 5am to take on the Muir pass early.

Day 56 – From Tentsite on Kearsage trail via Glen Pass to Tentsite, mile 801

June 15.

Got up at 6am, condensation in the tent. Lazy breakfast, still cold without the sun. Started hiking 730am. After a couple miles back on the PCT.

Climbing Glen Pass, made it to the top at 9.30am. Watched two hikers cross the next snow field, one starts sliding down. Luckily only a short distance until he finds hold again.

Crossing the snowfield was not so difficult after all. Followed the rocks instead of footprints in the snow a lot of times.

Beautiful view on the Rae Lakes. Lunch break here at 11.45am.

After the one pass comes the next in the Sierras… After descending from Glen, we started the approach on Pinchot pass. We soon passed the 800 miles marker…

After starting the long ascend towards Pinchot, we walked along a valley with a river rushing down a wide flat rock bed. We ran into three other hiker Irish Toni, Smalls and Michael when we came to suspicious scene around 5.30pm.

Two backpacks lay open close to the river, with gear laying around them. A water bottle and hiking poles lay right next to the rushing river on the flat slippery surface.

A hiker was washed down the waterfall and got stuck

We saw a hiker below the waterfall – he had obviously been washed down by the rushing water – miraculously he didn’t drown but could find a refuge on some rocks right next to the waterfall.

Another hiker belonging to the second pack showed up shortly after. She had witnessed her hiking buddy falling and had tried unseccessfully to find safe crossing over the river to get closer to him. We all decided to stay and help the rescue efforts as we could. The hiker was already in touch with SAR (search and rescue) with her Garmin InReach and was confirming position and describing the situation. I tried to keep her at a safe distance from the river and throw over some supplies to stuck hiker – emergency bivy, some food and sleeping bag to keep warm as well as his headlamp. We communicated by handwritten notes, wrapped around a stone in a plastic bag due to the loud waterfall.

About 30 minutes later, the rescue helicopter appeared and surveyed the scene with a few fly overs. He announced his return via loudspeaker and disappeared again.

When the helicopter appeared again, he started lowering a rescuers right next to the hiker in distress. Amazing to watch the accuracy of the rescue team, considering the roaring waterfall right next to them. 10 minutes later, the hiker was lifted out of the dangerous situation.

Full video of the rescue will be available soon.

We were all still shaken when we started hiking again around 7pm to make it closer to Pinchot pass. Glad that the hiker had obviously been saved without major injuries, it also made clear how one misstep can lead to disaster.
We came to another water crossing but due to setting darkness, we decided to camp and cross in the morning. Pitched tents and ate in darkness.

Day 52 – From Tentsite mile 772 via Kearsage Pass to Tentsite at Bullfrog lake, mile 788+

June 11.

With Forrester pass (13100 feet/4000 meter, highest point of PCT) still 7 miles out, we got a relative early start at 6.15am. The approach to Forrester pass was very beautiful. I remembered many spots and felt very happy and grateful to be here again.

The landscape in this part of the Sierra… Just awesome.

We took a break at the same spot where I had pitched my tent during my 2016 JMT hike, just before the final climb. In 2016 I was here in Juli.

Now, a month earlier, the pass had much more snow. Approaching the last climb was difficult…crossing a frozen lake, finding trail the trail under the snow.

After passing an icy snow chute and a few more demanding sections, we made to the top of the pass at 13118 feet around 12pm.

With the snow melting, we started the descend on the Northern side through big snow fields. Lots of postholing, climbing rocks to avoid the soft snow.

Once at tree level, found nice spot for lunch break, still 6 miles to crossing with Kearsage pass.

We found a beautiful spot near Bullfrog lake to spend the night before pushing over Kearsage pass tomorrow to go to town and resupply.

My favorite day on trail.

Song of today: Lenny Kravitz – Believe

Lyrics:
If you want it you got it
You just got to believe
Believe in yourself
‘Cause it’s all just a game

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.

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