A day at sea

March 24.

Breakfast around 8.30am. After breakfast, I inquired at the reception desk to get an opportunity to visit the bridge. Due to the weather conditions, it is not clear whether this will be possible today.

Due to the weather, some of the areas of the ship remain closed and some shelves got wrapped up in the shop.

I spent some time sitting at the open deck in the wind and weather protected space, watching as we passed some oil rigs.

The weather later calmed down as we passed the Shetland Islands – beautiful view with the sun coming through the clouds. And I even got some internet reception from these British islands.

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I enjoyed the day at sea not doing much – free time to read up on Iceland, chill, taking some notes for the blog and listening to music.

Tomorrow morning we will come to the Faroe Islands where I plan to explore the island during the few hours that the ferry will stop there.

Going North – To Iceland!

March 21.

Since I returned from the trip through Spain and Portugal, I have been looking forward to the next journey. The idea has been growing to discover Iceland – right now, at the end of winter. I will be driving about 1200km to Hirtshals in Denmark and take the ferry from there to Iceland. I plan to drive the ring road around the Island. I expect wide and open landscapes, lots of snowy hills and mountains, glaciers, waterfalls… and of course hotpots to soak in!

I left around 2pm, made good progress driving North through Germany. I made about 500km until 7pm. Found a nice remote spot for the van next to a small lake for the night.
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Checking the Iceland weather on their very useful Vegagerdin app, the road conditions have turned bad within the last hours.

 

The red roads are closed for traffic due to weather conditions. While it is normal that the mountain roads in the middle of the island are closed in winter, the once marked with the yellow bubble are actually part of the popular ring road.

I am really excited to see how the weather turns out once I arrive in Iceland. The ferry going via Faroer Islands is nearly a 3 days trip.

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 133 – From tentsite to tentsite, mile 2213

Aug 31.

Got a little earlier start at 7.30am. The vertical profile looked a bit easier for today. With weather still decent, we made it to the 2200 miles marker around noon.

We took our lunch break at Blue Lake. The clouds turned darker and the wind was cold – it was not easy to find a protected spot to lay down for a while. The lake however was popular with day hikers. It was really icy, we cut our break short and moved on.

Water at Bear Lake some miles later. And we had so much blueberries today.

With many day hikers around, we ran into two mothers with 4 kids around 5pm. With the kids getting tired, they were getting desperate to find a campsite. We pointed them into the requested direction and moved on.

We had amazing views of Mt Adams just before pitching the tents around 7.15pm.

Had two dinners – hungry from the cold wind… and I need the energy.

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 127 – From Timberline Lodge to tentsite, mile 2116

Aug 25.

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Timberline Lodge and Mt Jefferson

Woke up 6.45am to make it in time for the breakfast buffet at the Timberline Lodge at 7.30am.

The food was really great. Half of the restaurant’s guests were hungry hikers. And we made good use of the buffet… I had two full plates of egg, sausages, potatoes, waffles, pancakes… And another two plates with fruits, pastries and cake. And at least four cups of coffee.


With the bellies full and power banks recharged we left the lodge around 11am.

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Mt Jefferson

After the first miles, we ran into a volunteer from the USFS (US Forest Service), doing statistics on the trail usage and rewarding thruhikers with candy. We took an alternate for several miles – the Paradise Loop trail that MathMan, a thruhiker from 1975 had recommended to us two days earlier.

Skies were clouded most of the time. The great views from the morning on Mt Jefferson and the nearby Mt Hood didn’t last. The PCT close to the lodge was overrun by day hikers, so we moved fast and missed the 2100 miles marker. Not an issue – we created our own on the Paradise Loop trail with Mt Hood as background.

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2100 miles done – 550 miles left to Canada

We walked in the afternoon with dark clouds and few rain drops. During a last short break at a forest road, I saw two day hikers having trouble to start their car. The battery was empty. We volunteered helping to push it on the street and down the hill to get it started – it worked! The good deed of the day. They were very relieved… With no cellphone service in the forest, getting help would have become difficult.

We pushed on to make it to about 22 miles today despite the late start to a tentsite with water. That would still leave 28 miles to go to Cascade Locks tomorrow.

 

We made it to the tentsite just at nightfall at 8.15pm, pitched tents and collected water with headlamp. With the night came rain… First real rain on trail. I cooked my dinner while sitting in the tent and ate inside.

The sound of rain on the tent is beautiful.

Day 126 – From Timothy Lake to Timberline Lodge, mile 2094

Aug 24.

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Alarm 6.15am, breakfast, on trail at 7.30am. Cold in the mornings as we are getting more North and closer to Washington.

First stop after a couple of miles at Little Crater lake.

We continued on through the forest with a cloudy sky, definitely looking like rain is coming.

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The climb to Timberline Lodge from 4000 to 6000 feet was strenuous, with the trail getting sandy. But the expectation to reach the lodge and with that getting dinner was motivation to push on.

Made it to the lodge at 6pm. We had pizza and beer at the Blue Ox bar.

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When we left after dinner to find a tentsite in a small forest above the lodge, it had gotten really cold at our altitude of 6000 feet. We hurried with pitching the tents and got into the sleeping bags quickly. Some hikers returned after more beer at the lodge later to the tentsite…. one guy had fun playing loud music from his bluetooth speaker late at night…

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Mt Hood at sunset