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

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.

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail – First Week Recap

Here I am in Warner Springs, mile 109 of the Pacific Crest Trail. After a week hiking, meeting so many friendly people sharing the same passion and destination Canada, it is time for a recap.

Body

Doing surprisingly good. I kept my daily miles around 15, following the advice of some good friends (Hello EightKnots! 😁)! No blisters, knees are good.

Soul

I am happy with the decision to hike the PCT so far. I did not find much time for myself. I had a good morning waking up alone in the desert watching sunrise – I am hoping for more moments like that. I met so many kind people – other hikers (Rotem, Eric, Maddy, Johanna, Paulina, Colin, just to mention a few), trail angels (Carmen). Giving kindess, expecting nothing. I am just beginning to appreciate that and let go.

Gear

I started with a setup that was improved after two long distance hikes in 2016 and 2017. Still I had trouble letting go too many unnecessary things. Eric helped me to let go some if these things – but still potential left. I ordered a new tent – it will be 600gr instead of 1.7kg in my backpack. Let’s what will be next to go into a hiker box or be shipped to a friend. It is good to travel light.

Trail

The PCT, here the desert section, is much different than I thought it would be. More ups and downs, amazing views, more greens – but as little shade as I was afraid of. On some days, there are barely enough shady spots to take a break every 2h.

What did I learn so far?

Take it slow.

Trust people.

You need much less than you think.

It’s about the smiles, not the miles.

Life is good (especially with a chocolate bar).

What’s next?

Just about 25 times the miles I walked so far. And hopefully a lot more of what I just started to taste – trail life.

It’s your road and your road alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.