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… πŸ˜‚

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 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 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.

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… πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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 27 – Little Jimmy’s campground to tentsite mile 412

May 17. We left camp around 7am, walked two miles to a highway crossing. We decided for a 6 miles road walk to avoid the endangered species detour of the PCT.

The PCT itself is closed around here for several miles to protect the habitat of an endangered frog species actually. Walking along the highway was a new experience including some tunnels. Now I know why my headlamp has a blinking mode as well.

Coming back to trail, we quickly reached the 400 miles marker! That’s 640km… πŸ˜πŸ‘πŸ»

The gang at mile 400 marker

We pushed on to water at mile 411, camped shortly after at 412.

That was a good and long day. I feel I keep pushing my limits. Good feeling to be really tired in the evening and looking back at a 20+ miles day.

Song of the day: Her – We Choose

Pacific Crest Trail Hike – 2nd Week Recap

Here I am in Cabazon, a few miles off trail from mile 209 of the Pacific Crest Trail. 15 days on trail – time for my weekly recap.

200 miles marker

Body

Doing good with feet and legs. I feel like a caught a small cold during the cold days with snow in Idyllwild. In general – the temperature changes the last days were extreme. Two days ago, it was about freezing temperature when camping at 8500 feet altitude. Today in Cabazon, it’s 35 degree Celsius/95 Fahrenheit.

Looking at the average daily miles, it looks like I am below 15, resulting from the unplanned stop in Idyllwild waiting out the snow. Yesterday was my first 20+ miles/32 km day, so more is possible.

Soul

The second week was tougher than the first. Taking the extra break due to weather… I felt a bit guilty. Suddenly it felt more like a vacation than hiking the PCT. Maybe hiking the PCT should feel like vacation? πŸ˜‚
We were sharing a cabin in Idyllwild with 4-8 hikers. Felt like living at student dorm – cooking together, music, movies. That was a good time.

Family dinner πŸ˜‚

On the days that I was hiking, I actually found a bit more time for myself.

Blogging in the mountains

The hiker bubble around me keeps changing. Meeting a nice couple from Switzerland. Some hikers tracked back to walk the fire closure detour around Idyllwild that I skipped due to the snow. Several took longer breaks to heal their injuries. Again many kind people along trail. Thank you especially to Addison’s mom! I am still working on accepting all that kindness and letting go.

On top of Mt San Jacinto – 10800 feet
My first rattlesnake at mile 197

Gear

Still room for improvement. With the cold days in Idyllwild, I got a wind/rain jacket from Patagonia with just 100gram weight – Houdini. I love it. Another change was a sleeping pad. Since my NeoAir pad kept loosing air, I changed to a super durable foam pad ZLite Sol. It’s great for breaks during the day… And no more blowing up the pad at night time. Sleeping comfort is ok, I sleep on my back most of the time. The NeoAir is at Cascade Designs for repair. I expect it back before I hit the Sierra probably mid of June.

Trail

Wow. I didn’t expect so much different landscapes in the South Californian desert section. The snow in Idyllwild… The climb on Mt San Jacinto. That felt like the Sierra already. It is really beautiful out here. I am curious about the next section to Big Bear and beyond.

What did I learn so far?

Respect the weather.

Water is precious.

Take it slow. Don’t get injured.

You need less than you think. No, even less than that. πŸ˜‰

It’s okay to enjoy some time off.

What’s next?

In about three days, I should have completed about 265 miles and with that 10 percent of the trail. I try to worry less – less about challenges of the future, more focused about today and maybe tomorrow’s next water stop.

Even with a perfect plan, there will always be something that you can’t control.

Life is for living.