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

Day 23 – Tentsite via Cajon Pass to tentsite, mile 356

May 13, Mother’s day.

Ascend to Cajon

Started walking 8am, made to McDonald’s at Cajon pass at 930am.

Someone was practicing aim…
PCT sign with McDonald’s
McDonald’s at Cajon Pass

The time at McDonald’s was special. There were at any time probably 10 PCT hikers with their packs, dirt in the face and bad smell present. Other guests were kind of curious. Whenever I noticed that, I offered an explanation to the people in the next booth. Feedback was always the same – people not only understand but were impressed and congratulated more than once for the courage. And often enough there was a “I wish I could do that”. One guy said he wished he had the time, but he has only one lifetime to spend… My answer “exactly” made him laugh.

Left 1pm. Lots of thoughts about how much water to carry. 27 miles and more than 5000 feet altitude without water. I opted for 3 liters for hiking and 2 for dry camping… Later it would turn out to be more than enough.

Then after first 5 miles there was a water cache at 3pm. Drank some and pushed on. Arrived at 4.40pm at 10 miles, 5200 feet. Amazing view.

Song of today: Sitting on top of the world – Chris Goss

One hiker who prefers to remain anonymous addressed the trail/landscape after enjoying the amazing view alone for 30min, realizing how easy the ascend was so far:

“You are my beautiful bitch”

We wanted to finish at least half of the ascend to Wrightwood, so we kept pushing until around 7.15pm with 14 miles in, a total 18 miles day. 6200 feet, coming from a low around 2700.

Awesome view on the clouds pushing over the mountains.

Sea of clouds
Camping above the clouds

Day 18 – Arrastre camp to Big Bear Lake via interstate 18, mile 266

May 8. Connected to earth. That’s how I literally felt when a small earthquake woke me at 4.50am. It just lasted a few seconds. Sleeping on the ground, it felt close. Not threatening.

Trail

We all got up a bit earlier and left the tentsite at 6.30am. Aiming to be in Big Bear for late breakfast, I was pushing it with the motto of the day: 10 miles before 10am.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

Trail in the morning light
Two lizards

Coming to the interstate 18 crossing at 10am, there was another surprise… Trail magic… Cold soft drinks and Twizzlers!

Trail magic coming to Big Bear

We got really lucky with hitchhiking into town. The first (!!) car stopped, a nice lady took us right into town. Some late breakfast, some resupply shopping at Vons…

Time at the pool

Will enjoy the evening in town with more food, some beers and one night in a bed!

Day 17 – Creek Side Camp to Arrastre Trail Camp, mile 256

May 7. Started a bit earlier – on trail at 6.30am. My daily planning mainly follows the daily updated water report. For today, this meant either 15 miles or 21 for wet (nearby water) camping. We had about 2000 feet altitude gain ahead of us – and I had not been feeling too well the last two days. Good thing on the trail – don’t worry now about things that don’t matter right now. So I started hiking without knowing whether I will do a 20+ miles day or stay with a moderate 15 miles.

Walking through burnt forest

The day turned out beautifully! The altitude and the trees – the heat from the last two days was gone!

Song of today: Pink Floyd – Coming back to life

Lunch time was tortilla time again…

Tortilla peanut butter and sunflower seeds
Tortilla with tuna and sunflower seeds
Meeting Diesel D with Cactass

Around mile 253, we came along the famous sofa on the trail. Not further trail magic though – sodas were gone.

Chilling in the woods
Smells like something died here…

Arrived 630pm at a campsite mile 256 – 21 miles today!

Great day. But it’s time for a town stop. I am really filthy now. My shirt and pants are stuff from sweat, salt, dust and dirt.

Day 16 – White water preserve to tentsite, mile 235

May 6. Woke around 6am, many tents were already gone. Hikers were anticipating another hot day. I left short after 7am with Johanna and Cactass already on trail.

John Muir – I only went out for a walk
My second rattlesnake – click for video

Had done short breaks but pushed on through the heat until short after 1pm for my long siesta and lunch to wait out the main heat at mile 230.5. That was good… 12 miles done, maybe 6-8 more after the break. But I was very exhausted.

Following a dry riverbed

Made it to the creek side camp at mile 235 just around 7pm.

Another tough day. I was glad about the altitude gained and hoped for cooler days. Still suffering from a cold.

I only went out for a walk,
and finally concluded
to stay out till sundown,
for going out I found
was really going in.
– John Muir