I came a long way – and now?

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Well, I completed my thruhike of the Pacific Crest Trail. And I am f*cking proud of it. One item of my bucket list: checked. 🙂 I learned what it means to actually live your dream.

When I think about what I have achieved, it puts a smile on my face. Always. And now being back in civilization for almost three weeks, there were enough opportunities to talk to other people about the hike. For the previous 5 months on trail, I was surrounded by thruhikers. So everyone was aiming to complete a 2650 miles journey – a shared dream, the new normal. You could also say everyone shared a good amount of craziness. Now during my last three weeks traveling the US, I got all kinds of positive feedback – from amazed to disbelief. It is good to put it into perspective.

What’s next?

My original plan was to spend some days eating, showering and sleeping in Vancouver and Portland. Catch up on the blogging. Then ride a motorbike from Portland to Los Angeles, following the PCT respectively the resupply towns as much as possible. Continue blogging. And a week at the beach or so.  Then back to Germany. Continue doing what I love… Life is just too short and precious to not continuously work on your bucket list.

The motorbike tour turned into a road trip by car due to weather and ridiculous rental prices. And the blogging… well, I will catch up on that… 😉

 

I came a long way…

Sept 24.

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Northern Terminus – Pacific Crest Trail – Sept 24 2018

I came a long way. 2650 miles and more than 150 days later, I have completed my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail on Sept 24th!
I am happy, relieved, proud, excited… and haven’t fully understood yet that the hiking has really come to an end.

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Southern Terminus (Mexican Border) April 21 2018 / Northern Terminus (Canadian Border) Sept 24 2018

Hiking the PCT meant freedom and new encounters every day. I got used to beautiful sunsets, landscapes that take your breath away. It was a pleasure to meet all these amazing people on trail – especially Cactass, Tinkle and Spirit Kick.

Thanks to my family, friends and former colleagues for their support and encouragement during the last months.

The last two weeks in Washington were the biggest challenge during the hike. We got soaked in heavy rain several times (where also my phone died), had snow several times. We were at a point to turn back and leave the trail due to the weather and limited food. But the weather changed and the sun dried our gear and motivated us to push on.

The only impossible journey is the one you never begin”

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PS: I will be updating the blog for the missing weeks in Washington with amazing photos during the next days…

Day 128 – From tentsite to Cascade Locks, mile 2144

Aug 26.

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It was still light rain when I woke up with first light. It was comfortably enough in the tent, but the thought of getting out into the rain, having to hike 28 miles through the rain to make it to Cascade Locks was not the most attractive one…

So we stayed in our tents during breakfast, hoping for the rain to stop. At least it changed to just a drizzle when we finally got out and packed our tents. While my tent had held up well during the night, I realized that I had pitched it in a small ditch last night. Water had collected right under the tent and pushed through the floor into the tent. I did not have too much water inside, but the tent itself was soaked with water and mud.

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Another hiker’s tent after a night of rain

Still I had to pack it and get everything into my pack. We started hiking with rain gear – in my case just my thin wind/rain jacket and short pants and the pack protected by a rain cover.

With 28 miles to go and cold wind and continuing rain, we reduced the breaks to a minimum. It took maybe 30 minutes to get my feet inside the Salomon Ultra X shoes soaking wet.

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The clouded sky stayed dark the whole day – walking through the dark forest foggy from low hanging clouds was really special. A new experience after 4 months good weather on trail. But thruhiking can not just mean good weather hiking I guess…

Despite being wet and cold in the beginning, I enjoyed the experience.

There were so many blueberry bushes along the trail. Eating the ripe blueberries washed by the rain was delicious… The only way I want to eat blueberries from now on… 😁

The rain finally stopped and with hiking fast, I was able to get warm even with just the thin rain gear I had. The thought of getting my better weather gear from a box shipped by my good friend Steven to Cascade Locks was helping.

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The last few miles offered views onto Cascade Locks.

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Today would be the last hiking day in Oregon. The PCT famous Bridge of Gods in Cascade Locks leads into Washington, the last chapter of my PCT journey. It was an amazing last hiking day that Oregon provided. Short before Cascade Locks, I saw a bear cub, a snake and a group of deer – as if the animals were wishing a farewell…

We made it around 7.45pm into Cascade Locks. Two rest days (zero miles days) are planned. Good to dry the gear and get some rest before heading into Washington.

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Bridge of Gods in Cascade Locks at a rainy night

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 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… 😂

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.