Day 123 – From Big Lake Youth Camp to tentsite, mile 2017

Aug 21.

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After we packed up our tents after breakfast we ran into the same ultra runner support crew from yesterday again. And they had not forgotten us hungry hikers either… They offered to share their breakfast leftovers – potatoes fried in coconut oil, bacon, apple slices. Hmmm!

Well fed we started hiking – excited about the 2000 miles marker waiting for us in just a couple of miles.

2000 miles at 9am. An important milestone. Disbelief. Relief. Happiness. Time and miles are flying by. Exactly 4 months on trail.

Tempus fugit.

We took several photos and continued hiking until the 10 mile break around 11am.

At mile 2008 at Koko Lake it was time for the lunch break at 1.45pm – also time for a nap.

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Tough Thruhiker Life

We continued on around 3pm until the next water break at Rockpile lake at mile 2012. With no water at the planned campsite on a ridge, we took some extra with us.

Continued to a campsite without water but nice views on Mt Jefferson, mile 2017.

 

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Day 122 – From tentsite to Big Lake Youth Camp, mile 1995

Aug 20.

It got more and more cold – had breakfast in tent. The trail had been smokey since days – the sky looked really hazy. We were on trail at 7am heading into more lava fields.

I loved the landscape, even though it was windy and difficult to walk. It reminded me in some regards of the Sierra – but most of it looked just alien, like from a different world.

We took a longer break with cellphone coverage at a lake – I had my coffee and booked a place in Cascade Locks, the gateway into Washington.

A highway crossing was coming – a chance for trail magic. But no luck. A bit disappointed, we took a break right next to the street and had some snacks. After a few minutes, a pickup stopped and two men got out. They wanted to know if the crossing trail was indeed the Pacific Crest Trail. We learned that they were father and a friend of a trail runner attempting an Oregon crossing on the PCT. After some chat, they offered  sodas and bars which we happily accepted. The trail provides… 🙂

At the end of the lava fields, I came to a crossing of the trail. With the trail so evenly splitting, it reminded me of one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost.

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both…
Robert Frost – The Road not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
We finally got out of the lava fields and headed towards our next resupply stop, the Big Lake Youth Camp short before mile 2000.

We arrived at 5.30pm at the youth camp. Surprisingly nobody from the camp was around – they were obviously on a break. But the PCT designated hut was populated with hikers. We helped ourselves to a shower, laundry, picked up our resupply boxes and ate some dinner from the hiker box.

Around 9pm we left cleaned up and with devices charged, walked a while to a designated camping area, mile 1995.

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