Thanks to the jet lag, I woke up rather early and enjoyed a quiet morning in the motel parking lot.
For those in Germany suffering from the current heatwave – it’s just the same here, around 40 degrees Celsius.
I am looking forward to getting into the Sierra and to 10000 feet / 3000m where the air is not only cooler but a bit cleaner than around Los Angeles.
Spent the day shopping for snacks at a 711 and waiting for my Eastern Sierra Transit bus at 2pm. The motel kept the pool locked – a bit disappointing.
But the day got much better. At the bus stop I ran into Nick, a hiker from Missouri. He is about the hit the High Sierra Trail. We will be entering the wilderness via the same trail head tomorrow – what a nice coincidence. We spent the long bus ride to Lone Pine chatting about hiking. He gave me the idea to call the visitor center to ask for my permit to be stored for late pickup tonight. That worked out nice – thanks Nick!
Coincidence got bigger – he had actually recently visited a friend in Switzerland and seen the same town that I will be moving into after this hike. World is really small. 😜
Did some last gear preparations (fuel, dry bag and water filter replacement) and started the self hydration process that is so critical to be conducted carefully before every hike (got wasted on beer with Nick). 😝
That made the gear shakedown we did with two JMT hikers we met in the hostel even more fun.
The weather might get interesting – there is a chance of thunderstorms tomorrow at lunchtime when I will be on trail already.
I caught my flight from Frankfurt via Amsterdam to Los Angeles in the morning. I am not too keen on flying anymore – but getting to California without taking a plane really takes a lot of time and commitment. 😜
Anyway – the 11h KLM flight to LAX was surprisingly nice. The seat only started killing me after a couple of hours, the catering was really tasty, movie selection was good too.
The immigration officer made my day. When I stated my purpose of visit (vacation/leisure), he inquired further and I shared that I will be hiking in the Sierras. He wondered whether I would be hiking the John Muir Trail! 😁 So I shared some insights, he was really interested… And we closed our conversation with his remark that he wouldn’t call the purpose of the visit leisure if it means hiking for 3-4 weeks. 🤣
Waiting for the bus ride from LAX to Union Station was nerve wrecking… Traffic chaos, cars honking everywhere… But I made it to Union Station and later to the Metrolink to Lancaster.
I would have fallen asleep in the train if if wasn’t freezing cold from the AC…
The train crossed the Pacific Crest Trail near Acton, mile 444.
At the Acton KOA campground during my 2018 PCT hike, I got my trail name that I would only slowly accept…
In Lancaster, I had a 30min walk along the main street passing used car dealerships, gun shops, massage parlors…
I remember very well my last night before hitting the John Muir Trail in 2016. I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep…
This time I will be hiking the JMT for the third time. I am much more relaxed since I know what is coming. But my expectations are high – even higher.
It seems I love the Sierras more with every visit.
It’s the solitude and self-determination that I long for.
And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.- John Muir
Another walk at the shore in the morning to say goodbye to the seal, but unfortunately it didn’t show up again.
Continuing East, I stopped around lunch time at the small town of Djupivogour, to get coffee and cake. Like at many places in Iceland, you get free table water as well as free refills on coffee – so nice!
Arriving at Egilsstadir really made clear to me that my round trip on Iceland was coming to an end. This was the first town stop I did after arriving with the ferry. Now it was my last stop to shop for some snacks for the 3 days ferry ride via Faroe to Denmark. The Bonus supermarket there is the first and last supermarket stop on Iceland probably for many who come by ferry.
I drove the last 30min to the ferry terminal at Seydisfjoerdur through fog and light snowfall. Iceland really showed how true this saying is: If you do not like the weather on Iceland, just wait 5 minutes.
Checked in at the ferry at 5.45pm, I was on board with my van shortly later. I looked like the ferry would be quite empty again – besides a handful of cars, a number of buses and container trailers were loading. I expected to leave at 8pm – surprisingly the ship left 7pm. The ship schedule followed the official ship time which is Faroe time, so one hour ahead of Iceland now. Lucky me I was early enough. 😉
Thank you Iceland! You rough beauty. Land of fire and ice, sunshine, snow and rain and storm, of solitude in the North and mass tourism in the South.
I came looking for a wide open country and solitude, what I found was so much more. So much contrast, constant change. I met a number of inspiring people. I lost my heart here. Tears of joy and goodbye. I will come back.
Spotted a reindeer around the campground again in the morning – maybe the same one from last night?
Drove on East to Stokksness with its famous black beach and rocky coast. There was an old viking village, a possible movie location nearby. Really looked like the great Viking series might have been shot here.
After that, walked along the coast, looking for seals at the black beach but no luck. Still a special landscape with the beach and mountain so close.
The ring road followed the shore closely. I stopped to take photos.
There were hundreds of swans! Impressive view with the sun setting. The photos can’t really catch this scene.
For my last night on Iceland (for this trip ;-)), I wanted a wild camping spot again. The Hvalnes lighthouse turned out to be beautiful spot for that. At the evening walk along the shore there, a quick glance of a seal! Beautiful round black face appearing in the waves, just for 3, 4 seconds, then gone again. Just like with unexpected spotting of the whales at Gardur – these few seconds gave me a long lasting smile, feeling happy, lucky and connected.
I stood there for a good while, maybe hoping for another glance. But I was happy and content.
“God never made an ugly landscape. All that sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.”
– John Muir
The sound of rain on the car roof that night made this such a beautiful evening – could not ask for more. Except maybe more time on Iceland.