When Snow turns into Water

When Snow turns into Water

I can now say I have hiked over 1000 miles on the PCT.

Here is a 1000 mile selfie.

I started this stretch with the same group I hiked the last section with. Hobbs, Roadrunner, Crusher and Schoolbus.We decided since we would hit the Yosemite National Park, that we would like to spent some time in Yosemite Valley.

After hiking for 40 miles, we stopped in Toloumne Meadows, which as of now is a pretty dead place. Once the road opens, it will be flooded by tourists and they put up a grocery store just for all those tourists every year. Other than that store there is one ski hut, which is not yet locked, therefore we decided that the ski hut would be a perfect place to spent the night before heading down into the valley.

Usually that would be an easy hitch. But since the road is closed it is a 12 mile roadwalk and 8 miles of steep trail and an overall elevation drop of 6000 feet. Hiking on trail is definitely a lot different from road walking. All my joints were hurting and some of us even got blisters again. When I finally made it down into the valley, way after everyone else, I was shocked by the temperature change and the amount of people.

Coming off the trail into a super touristy place, leads to all those tourists staring at you. Especially if it is like 90 degrees outside and you carry an ice axe on your backpack. Everyone in my group experienced the same. People were really nice to us though and wanted to know all about what we are up to. All I could think off was that I had to hike up those 20 miles that I just had hiked down.

After doing some sightseeing of the most common places, we were heading back up again. Hiking the trail section was fine, but knowing the road walk was coming up, just annoyed all of us. So we got to the road and we kinda started spreading out, I was obviously in the back as I am always the slowest. Roadrunner decided to stay in Yosemite for longer. And the other three were probably at least half a mile to a mile ahead. Then I hear a car. Knowing the road is closed it could just be one of the employees of the national park and as we knew they aren’t supposed to pick up hickers. As of now it may only be a few of us in a week, but pretty soon that road will be flooded by hikers. But anyways I thought it was worth giving it a shot, so I stuck my thumb out and the pick up drives past me full speed. But then I see his brake lights go off and he comes back, I couldn’t believe it. So he picked me up and also stopped and picked up the others. He saved our feet and multiple hours of road walking. We spent another night in the ski hut.The next morning we were back to hiking the PCT. The stretch into the next town was 74 miles long and Yosemite is known for its river crossings. But we still hoped we could push through in 4 days. I am on a time limit and I need to get in more miles. In a high snow year the river crossings are extremely dangerous, especially in the early thaw season. But everyone told us how dangerous the Sierra would be and the last sections weren’t even that bad, they were tough and technical, but not dangerous if you weren’t stupid about it. So how could this be different? It is literally just water.

I was so wrong! And I also have to admit that this last section brought me to my knees multiple times. This was the most dangerous. The worst part for me is that I had to realize I could have not done it by myself. My group is the reason I can write this blog entry right now. I may not have found myself in some of the situations I faced, because if it would have just been me I would have turned around or pressed my emergency rescue button. But I was supported by three amazing people. The first crossings weren’t bad at all. Then we hit the first crossing we were warned about in the Valley. It was split into two sections. I A framed the first section with Schoolbus, meaning you hold onto each others shoulders, allowing for a more secure crossing. The second section took as quite some scouting. Me and Crusher tried A framing it but had to turn around since the current was even too strong for that. Hobbs found a log to cross on. That was way too sketchy, at least that’s what I thought, there was no way I could even climb that log, not even considering I would have to cross a rapid river on it. So Crusher and Schoolbus found a crossing further upstream. Crusher had already pushed through and made it look super easy, as he did with every single crossing. But I simply don’t have his physical abilities. Since it looked so easy, Schoolbus and me figured I could do it by myself and he could take a video of me. Hobbs was further downstream on the other side, ready to take pictures and Crusher was running around somewhere. I took four steps into the river and holy shit, this was not easy. The river was up to my waist and this was the strongest current I ever felt. I couldn’t use my trekking pole as an anchor point anymore cause I simply couldn’t push it into the ground, I could barely hold onto it. And I realized I was slowly loosing grip. 200 feet downstream was a huge rapid and this is what all of the river downstream looked like. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t move backwards and I couldn’t move forward. I looked at Hobbs with pure fear in my eyes and then I just started screaming for help. I just didn’t know what to do, it would only take a few more pushes of the river and I wouldn’t be able to stand the force anymore. Hobbs immediately had put down is camera, but was quite far downstream. Schoolbus pushed into the river and within seconds Crusher jumped into the river from the other side. Both of them grabbed me and we made it across as a group of three. I couldn’t stop shaking. This was more than I could handle. Schoolbus had left his pack on the other side when he came to rescue me. The current was too strong even for him to cross back over. So he had to climb the log Hobbs had found earlier. Looking back this all seems pretty unreal, I can’t even stress enough how lucky I was to hike this stretch with those people. One mile further up the trail we hit the next stream, it was late in the afternoon and after what we all just had been through we decided we would cross this stream as a group, no one would go in by themself. Hobbs and Crusher were on the upstream side, since they are the strongest. Hobbs took two steps and the water was thigh high and he could barely stand, eventhough he was supported by the three of us. We turned around. There was no point in attempting that crossing the same day. All of the guys started heading up and downstream, but nothing looked too promising. The water level would be lower in the morning, so we just had to be smart about it and quit hiking for the day. The next couple of days we were doing it over and over again.

Sometimes in chest deep water, sometimes in super strong currents and sometimes over snowbridges. One snowbridge collapsed right underneath me and I fell into a freaking cold river. But at least the current was not too strong. One of the mornings we crossed a river that was super wide at 6 o’clock. By the time we made it to the other side all of our feet were in so much pain that it took us a couple of minutes to be able to continue hiking, the water was just way too cold.

We made it to Sonora Pass on our fifth day out and hitched into town to resupply. The next morning we were already heading out again, ready to push through the next section. Finally the trail is getting less snowy and therefore we can put down our miles a little faster again. There is still a lot of snow, but we also are at lower elevation and the terrain is less technical.I sent some of my snow gear out, so I wouldn’t have to carry it anymore. Including my ice axe. We only hit a few more sketchy snow traverses and we were so used to it by now that nothing could really happen. Once again that’s what I thought… We were crossing a steep traverse and all off the sudden I loose grip underneath my feet I start sliding down the slope and within seconds I pick up so much speed and all I could think about was that soon I will be hitting rocks at the bottom and that would simply be it. I let go off one of my hiking poles. Luckily I had practiced how to self arrest with an ice axe, and I did what I learned with my hiking pole. It took a little longer but I finally started slowing down. I put so much force on that hiking pole that it even bend. I was so happy that self arrest worked out and once again I was sitting in the Sierra, shaking and trying to figure our what had just happened and how lucky I was. I am now at mile 1091 in South Lake Tahoe and I hope that I can finally push back to my old mileage.

I have officially completed the Sierra section in one of the highest snow years in a long time. And I do have to admit I am proud to say I pushed through, yet I am also scared that I will run out of time to finish the trail because of my stubbornness. On the other hand I am hoping that excactly this stubbornness will help me to make it happen.

Back in the Sierra

Back in the Sierra

Finally back on trail! After waiting out one storm after another in late May, we started our next attempt to head back into the Sierra for a 120 mile stretch. The overall highest stretch with the major passes of the Pacific Creat Trail.

Personally this was my third attempt to get over Kearsage Pass. The night before heading up me and my group went to the Trailhead so we could get an early start. My group consisted of Justin, whom I hiked the first stretch of the Sierra with. His trailname is Schoolbus and the others I hiked with are Roadrunner, Hobbs and Crusher. All of those are obviously their trailnames. My trailname is Shredder. The reason for that is cause I shred all of my gear into pieces. I don’t even know how, but usually after every stretch at least one piece of gear is wrecked.

Before we started our hike we all once again occupied one of the pit toilets to sleep in. This time I had one all to myself, at least that’s what I thought… A mouse also considered the pit toilet to be its home. After about an hour of chasing it out again and again, I gave up. The mouse had won. I set up my tent outside and tried to get at least a little bit of sleep in.

The next morning we hiked up Kearsage and the sun was shining, I could barely believe it. We made it to the top in nice sunny weather. Completely different from my previous attempts. Since everything was going so well, we decided to push on to the next pass. Hiking up Glen Pass, the weather changed and we were caught in a little bit of thunder and some snow. The thunder kinda scared me. I dont enjoy hiking in it. Furthermore I was super exhausted. Two passes in one day was pretty rough on my body.

The next day we pushed further along the trail until a light storm hit in the afternoon and we decided to stop hiking for the day. The day after we hit our third pass. Pinchot Pass, definitely one of the nicer passes. Still quite some elevation, but nothing super sketchy.

The following day we hit Mather Pass, known to be a pretty sketchy and technical pass. So we had to hit it as early as possible, so that the snow conditions would still be good. Luckily a group of six was even earlier than us and punched a nice pass through the snow for us. Turning it into a nice ascent for us. I did get scared once a slight avalanche started coming our way. Which was clearly an indicator that we should have hit the pass even earlier. Or that I should have moved faster, since everyone else already made it to the top.

So having conquered the toughest pass what else could happen? The last one of the high passes was left for the next day. It was a 10 mile uphill hike and honestly it was a nightmare. We postholed most of it and it took forever to get to the top. The sun was burning, but at least no one could complain that it was too cold. After that ascent we hiked for 6 more miles and got rewared with an amazing sunset. We all weren’t exactly in a great mood after that day and the sunset just turned everything around and we were happy again.

The next day there was no pass, so I figured it would be an easy day. I kinda just forgot about the river crossings that were coming up. Evaluation Creek and Bear Creek are known to be the most dangerous river crossings on the PCT. Sadly some people already died in those crossings. Feeling the current especially of Bear Creek I could definitely see how that happens. I was hiking with four strong guys and I am also definitely a rather big girl. But there were a couple of steps were I had to take all my strength to not get swept away and the river will be a lot higher in a few weeks from now. So that slowed us down quite a bit. After the crossings we needed to dry out our stuff. That is usually also a great time for a nap and lunch.

The stretch through the valley consisted mainly of slushly snow and usually small rivers that had turned into real river crossings for us due to the insane amount of snow. One of the rivers I tried crossing over via a fallen tree. And then it happened I leaned over too far and my foot got stook. I started falling towards the side. Luckily Crusher was standing close and was able to grab my legs so I had enough grip to just fall backwards onto another fallen tree, rather than falling into a stream a couple feet below me.

Throughout the day I would step on snow just to fall through and hit a rock or a fallen tree. It was annoying and everytime we actually see a trail it was pretty much a river. Towards the end of the day we had to push through another uphill and all of the sudden I realized my ankle was hurting. I knew I twisted and rolled it multiple times that day, but I couldn’t remember a certain incident were it was that bad. Getting to the top of the uphill Roadrunner, Hobbs and Crusher were already waiting. Roadrunner asked how my ankle was doing. And that was the moment it happened. I just started crying in front of all of them. My ankle sucked. It freaking hurt every step I took. The next town was 30 miles away. And I had to continue walking. How bad would it be? Would I be able to continue hiking? How would it feel the next morning? Did I have any other option then continuing to the next town? No. So I told myself to stop being whiny, I drowned some pain meds and told myself most of it is mental since it was a tough day and we had already hiked quite a bit. Everyone realized I felt like shit and all of the boys decided to take some of my gear so I would have less weight to carry. I was so thankful. Schoolbus stayed behind and hiked the last miles with me eventhough I was going as slow as I had never been before.

The next morning I woke up and I looked at my ankle. It was bruised and swollen. But nothing too bad. And well since my boots were constantly wet and cold anyways my ankle would be constantly cooled. I felt ready to hike. After a couple of minutes, I couldn’t even feel my feet anymore. So that was the convenient part of hiking in snow. If I couldn’t feel my feet I couldn’t feel the pain. After two miles we hit a river crossing that usually isn’t too bad. But seeing everyone cross I started to feel a little bit anxious. This looked worse than Bear creek, the current was stronger and higher. The water actually reached up to my thighs. I felt like this would be all I could handle for the day. But about half an hour later I found myself crossing a river right next to a waterfall. And then since the switchbacks up the hill were covered in snow we went straight up the slope. I could feel my ankle again, cause it hurt and this wasn’t hiking, this was climbing. Great… This is what the day continued to be like, so it was one of the most challenging days out there eventhough we didn’t hike a major pass. Throughout the day my mood started to improve though and I could enjoy the challenge again.

On the final two days we hiked one more pass and today we made our way into Mammoth Lakes.

After nine days out in the Sierra, wearing constantly wet or frozen boots and or clothes, getting up at four o’clock every morning while it was still dark and freezing, walking on a bruised ankle, I can only say I would definitely do it all again. I can’t put into words all the emotions I went through in those nine days and one blog post wouldn’t be enough to even try to describe it. This stretch of the PCT proved to me again how amazing nature his, how capable a human body can be and how amazing it is to hike with a nice group of people. This is actually the first time I hiked with a bigger group for a longer period of time. And I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

Waiting out the Storms in the Sierra

Waiting out the Storms in the Sierra

The weather in the Sierra is simple a mess this year.I am in California at the end of May and it is snowing pretty much everywhere on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Sierra continues to get dumped in feet of fresh snow. Pretty much everyone I know decided to skip up north towards Oregon to be able to continue hiking. Well they got up there and the trail is also covered in snow. After the first 700 miles, pretty much up to the Canadian boarder there is nothing but snow on the trail. Me and some other hikers decided to wait out the storms in the Sierra. Flipping up north still does not seem like an option. At this point I attempted hiking back into the Sierra twice. The night before heading back up Kearsage pass the first time, the wind was apparently blowing at 40 – 50 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 80 miles per hour. So some of us ended up sleeping in pit toilets at the trailhead that night, cause we knew our tents would break in that kind of wind. The next morning we were post holing knee deep in fresh snow and once we stopped someone’s weather forecast showed a new storm rolling in for the next day. So we turned around and came back down. A couple days later me and another group tried to head back up. Overall 16 hikers tried to get over the pass that would lead us back on trail that day. Three miles into the hike, none of us could feel their face, feet or fingers anymore. We hiked in white-out conditions, in a windchill of -9 degree Fahrenheit (-23°C). We had to bail again. Out of the 16 hikers, 14 bailed that day. Two continued. One of them turned around a day later, describing it as the worst 30 hours of his life. We all knew we made the right decision.After we spent a night in a motel, some of us decided to do a work for stay. So I currently am working on a Lavender Farm, which is an awesome experience.
But I do have to admit that I can’t fully enjoy it, because all I wanna do is hike. Furthermore I am on a time limit due to my Visa. It feels like I am slowly starting to go insane over here. I hiked 80 miles in the last three weeks. The weather at one point has to clear up and all of this will soon be forgotten, but for now I suppose I have to deal with my situation and wait it out.After spending time at the lavender farm, we spent one night in the Alabama Hills which is an absolutely amazing place.Today we are going back up to the trailhead, this is my third attempt of getting back into the Sierra and this time it it works out. The next stretch will be 120 miles long and climbs over 6 or 7 passes overall. My pack is even heavier than it was on the last stretch. I am super excited to start hiking again, yet I also have a lot of respect for the next stretch. I will be hiking in a group of five and I really enjoy being around all of the people in that group. So it feels like that is something that will help to even make the toughest stretches rather enjoyable.

My First Week in the Sierra

My First Week in the Sierra

So it happened. I finally was able to enter the Sierra, after spending way too much time and money on gear in Kennedy Meadows. You know you stayed in a place too long when the people from the town start joking that you will be the 201 resident of it. Spending six days in one spot when all you wanna do is hike, is just really annoying

I was happy to spent time with all the hikers I know, but I was even happier to leave.

My first week in the Sierra was by far the most adventurous one up to this point. We, meaning Justin and me, quickly got to altitudes above 10000 feet and I had to carry 9 days worth of food. We were planning on hiking 7 days and carrying 2 days worth of emergency food. So my pack was as heavy as it has never been before and I had to adapt to the fact that I will have less Oxygen to consume. So this lead to a pretty tiring combination in the first couple of days.

The first day we actually didn’t hit snow yet. From the second day on we were hiking in snow all day long. So in the morning snow is pretty much ice, than it turns into slush once the sun hits it. I don’t know which condition I prefer. Hiking on ice with my crampons actually feels really good, but I can tell out of experience that falling on your face with a heavy backpack hurts less in slush. Hiking in slush in general is more exhausting though. So as you can tell I spent quite some time slipping, sliding and falling on every type of snow existing. By the third day I kinda got used to it and could control myself better.

The third day when I thought things were going to work out really well, was also the first day we had to camp on snow. The other nights we were lucky enough to find spots underneath trees without snow. The thing about camping on snow is, that it actually isn’t that bad. But I never took the time to fix my airmatress properly, so it keeps deflating at night. And that’s where camping on snow turns into a problems, cause laying on snow without insulation can turn pretty darn cold and wet, since the snow tents to melt. Putting on frozen shoes the next morning just adds a little more fun to it. But the best part was actually my attempt of removing my tent stakes from the ground. Well they were frozen solid into the ice, so I had to dig them out of the snow for about half an hour. So I had learned a lot about camping on snow that night and I was sure I would rather avoid it, if possible.

Well needless to say it’s not possible in one of the highest snow years…

But I got used to frozen boots, frozen tents, frozen water bottles and digging out stakes of the ice as my early morning activity.

Apart from the fact that I had to get used to being in snow all day long and learning how to walk on it rather than to slide over it, it was actually an amazing experience. The views were insanely gorgeous and we didn’t see anybody for seven days. I loved it!

Well I loved it until day five, we were making good mileage for snow conditions and we were about to pass over Forester Pass at 13200 feet, this is the highest point of the PCT. The pass is in the mountain range that is pictured above. So we set up camp in a snow free spot at 12500 feet. I was so happy. I got to sleep on snow free ground the night before I would hike to the highest point of the PCT. Well the only reason this spot was snow free was because it was so freaking windy. But that wasn’t even the problem. We were aware of the fact that on day number five out for us, the weather forecast showed about 6 inches of snow. But so far the forecast was always off and the weather was much better than expected. We decided it would be the same for that night. Well I have never been so wrong in my life. Once I had my tent set up. It started snowing. And it didn’t stop for 16 hours and it wasnt just snowing, it stormed, and the sky was bright all night because of constant thunder and lightening. The wind got so bad that snow actually somehow ended up inside my tent. And we are not talking about a little bit of snow. This was not the Sierra experience I signed up for, especially not at 12500 feet. It was a nightmare. I was cold, everything I owned was wet and 6 inches had turned into 2 feet of fresh snow.

It was freezing and my conditions were getting close to a hypothermic state. Forester Pass was at this point impossible to pass. Fresh snow on ice on a steep slope would make for the worst conditions. The storm didn’t seem to calm down. I was feeling horrible. That’s when we decided to backtrack. We had to get to a lower elevation, we had to get out of the storm. Justin’s tent did much better than mine, but it’s still also not a mountaineering tent. So neither of us had slept that night. And backtracking already feels horrible, but backtracking in the conditions we were facing was my worst nightmare. I don’t know much about all of this mountaineering stuff and I learn as I go… We couldn’t just go back the same way we came up, because of the avalanche risk. I wouldn’t be able to tell when we would hit those conditions, but apparently some of the snow cracking sounds indicate it could happen. So I realized I was totally depended on Justin and his skills, that feeling sucked. And I also realized that I was finding myself in a situation that could actually could really be dangerous. I was cold, I was caught in a storm, my face hurt, I couldn’t feel half of my body anymore and all I could do is to tell myself to keep calm and that it will be over soon. And keeping calm is probably the key in a situation like that. Cause there was really nothing I could do other than to continue walking. After 4 hours we were out of the worst and we found a spot that actually had some sun. The good stuff about all the gear is, it’s made to dry easily. So after an hour everything was dry. I set up shelter and passed out for 14 hours. I didn’t wake up once. So in the end it was just a storm that hit us in the worst possible position. But nothing too bad, at that point it did feel pretty horrible though.

The next day the weather was all great again so we hiked back up to the pass. We weren’t willing to give up yet and once the snow settled for a day, maybe we were lucky and conditions would be good enough to pass. We both started to run low on food and we needed to ration it, but it worked. Now it was day seven out in the Sierra and nature once again had proven how powerful it is. While hiking up towards the pass again we spotted fresh footprints and we knew we were about to see other hikers. And I have never been so happy to see other hikers. It was a group of five hikers I earlier met in Kennedy Meadows. They even knew of two more hikers coming up to the pass the same day. All of them talked about the storm and how bad it was.

So that night we were nine hikers camping in the spot of my worst night on the PCT. And we were all ready to climb the pass the next day. One of the hikers actually had taken mountaineering courses and offered to give me a lesson on how to properly use my ice axe. Which was actually really helpful and fun. The next morning our alarms went off at 4.30 am. Because of the fresh snow it was crucial for us to hit it as early as possible. So we had to break trail. We didn’t have footprints to follow and we had to kick our own steps. Using crampons and ice axes. So this is were my PCT hiking experience turned into a real mountaineering experience. It took all nine of us 3 hours to get to the top of the pass and we all were so incredibly happy once we made it. It was actually a really fun experience and there was no storm in sight, just sun and a cloud free sky.

We continued to hike together for the next day and headed into town together, before we would set off for the next stretch in the Sierra. The last day out there we actually heard two avalanches break loose and one of the hikers even saw one.

So just to get some things straight. During a normal snow year, hikers don’t see snow where we currently are. Furthermore I am an early starter, which means I started hiking in March, whereas the big crowd starts hiking in April and May. In a year like this the recommended time to hit the Sierra is Mid July. Before that the Sierra requires mountaineering skills, the right gear and the proper mindset. This is also the reason why there is barely anyone out here. Me and Justin signed the register for the Sierra as thru hiker number 30 and 31. Most hikers skip the Sierra and come back at a later time of the year. As mentioned in other blogs I make sure to always be surrounded by people that know what there doing and yes I am definitely pushing my limits, but I am not doing something insanely stupid or dangerous. It was bad luck to get caught in a storm, but even that was to be expected and we were mentally prepared for it, which doesn’t turn it into a nicer experience if you actually have to face it. So yes, I could have definitely just skipped the Sierra because of the conditions. But this is the experience I came out here for. I couldn’t control the snow fall for the year I decided to hike and I personally made the decision that I still want the full thru-hiking experience. And as you can see in the pictures it is worth every second of it.

Completed the First Section of the Pacific Crest Trail

Completed the First Section of the Pacific Crest Trail

I made it through the desert section of the Pacific Crest Trail. So I have hiked 702 miles, 1130 kilometers. Completing the desert section means I am currently in Kennedy Meadows. A small town with two places for hikers to hang out before heading into the Sierra.

Since this is a high snow year as mentioned in another post, at this point there are about 20 hikers hanging out here sorting out the proper snow gear. A lot of hikers are skipping the Sierra this year. As of yesterday this year four hikers attempted to hike the Sierra. Today another group left. I am waiting on another hiker to arrive and some packages with gear.

In the next couple of days some more of us are heading out. The next section will be the hardest one of the complete PCT, 300 miles covered in snow. Hiking over ridges and passes between 10000 and 13500 feet. For this section I need to plan my resupply a lot more detailed than I normally do and I have to make sure I am carrying the proper equipment.

The last 260 miles were really nice to hike. I ended up hiking with Ninja for almost the complete section. We night hiked two sections and managed to get some crazy mileage days in. The best we did was hiking 42 miles (67.5 km) in a timeframe of 26 hours, which felt pretty awesome.One night we had to hang our food up on a tree. When we rolled into camp Ninja saw a bear close to the river. After it realized there were humans close by it chased off and I didn’t even see it which I was rather sad about. But I got to see some snakes again, two scorpions and one night a coyote was wandering around my tent spot.Overall covering those miles was a really smooth and enjoyable experience. The weather was all over the place and hiking into Kennedy Meadows I had to hike in the rain for the first time, by the time I made it to town I was completely soaked, but i got the chance to dry everything out and therefore it was fine.This may not be the most interesting blog post, but it was really nice that for once everything worked out really well, apart from the fact that my air mattress popped and I slept on the ground for the last week. Which at this point doesn’t even bother me anymore.

So now I am preparing myself for the biggest challenge so far and I am pretty excited to get out of this little place I spent too much time at.

My first month on the Pacific Crest Trail

My first month on the Pacific Crest Trail

444 Miles are completed as of today. My first month on the trail is already over.

So many things have happened that this will be a rather long blog entry even if I try to keep it short. First of all I ended my last blog entry with the statement that I will be off on my own again. Well guess what it was the three of us again. Gabriel, Li and me. The time we spent together felt like the first couple of days and we all felt like trying it again. 34 Miles or in other words two days later something unexpected happened. Li was done. Flying home. No hiking anymore. He decided he had enough. It was the weirdest feeling ever. We weren’t splitting again cause we didn’t enjoy hiking together like before. No, he was flying home, because he was done, we would never see him again on this trail. So here me and Gabriel were super confused. We continued hiking that day, but couldn’t help to feel out of place.

Me and Gabriel decided to stick together through the next snowy section that was coming up. It was supposed to be a difficult one. But after that we would hike seperately. A couple days later we hit the snow. Again everything changed and we, did not mean Gabriel and me. The both of us had met other hikers and in a trail town Gabriel decided to stick with them and I decided that I will summit the next Mountain with Justin.

So the night before summiting Mount Baden Powell there was a high wind advisory. Or as a normal person would say, it would be insanely windy and not enjoyable to spent the night in a tent. So we tried to find a rather sheltered spot. Which worked out and the others joined us.

The day of summiting the mountain Justin and me got up at 4 am. When my alarm started ringing I kinda was wondering if this would all be worth it. The wind was blowing like crazy my tent was frozen, I was tired and cold. But hey that’s part of it all so I got all motivated and ready.

By 5.30 am we got to the base of Mount Baden Powell, ready to summit it. People said there was snow on top. No one told me I’d be hiking 3000 feet straight up an ice covered mountain. But that was fine. I had enough time, it was early in the day and at this point I felt comfortable enough doing it. I still questioned what I was doing quite a bit while hiking up that hill. But at around 9 am I had summited Mount Baden Powell, during a high wind advisory and 20 degree Fahrenheit. Well here it was that feeling of just having conquered the world. Nothing could stop me now.

That feeling lasted for about 5 minutes until I realized I had to continue hiking up and down the next three summits while hiking over the ridges and doing another overall 1200 feet of elevation. I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about this, and I was wondering how I could be so stupid to think that once I got on top of that mountain getting down would be easy. Actually that was the much harder part.

By the time I got to the next summit after Baden Powell, I was done I needed food and a break and no snow. The footprints from hikers before us were leading directly under a tree. I was standing under the pine tree and one of the branches was in my way. I wasn’t up for dealing with it, while swearing at the tree I just kinda pushed my way through. Seems like an irrelevant detail and believe me I wish it would be as irrelevant as it seems.At around noon and on top of the final summit for the day I needed to eat and so we had our lunch break. While eating I realized something that simply put me in shock. I had lost my tent. I had lost my freaking tent. I was ready to have my first breakdown. Like the whole show, I was ready to cry and cry and cry a little more. But then I was thinking what good is that going to do? If you start crying right now your tears will freeze and that’ll actually really hurt and crying is not going to get you your tent back. So I sucked it up. There was no point in backtracking. It was too late in the day and the snow got sketchier and it would have simply put me in danger to hike back. So here I was ready for my first night Cowboycamping. No shelter no nothing. Just me and my sleeping bag. A couple hours later we made it to a spot with no snow. The temperatures weren’t exactly great but we found a spot were I would be rather sheltered, eventhough we were barely hitting temperatures above freezing and it wasn’t even night yet. I woke up and everything around me was frozen. As you can see I am not super excited about the whole situation. I wanted to Cowboycam ar some point, but I would have rather chosen that point on my own and not be forced to do it in those circumstances.

The next morning we started hiking again. I just needed to get to a lower elevation I didn’t wanna see snow anymore. Cowboycamping wouldn’t bother me if it would be nice outside. But doing it in the snow while it was super windy wasn’t exactly my definition of fun. After 21 miles we reached lower elevation. I was excited. And I had found a bench to sleep under. Little did I know that it would actually rain and snow on me that night, despite the bench. This sucked!

I knew if I’d make it further down there would be no snow until mile 702 and I would be in the desert again. So here I was ready to hike for a long day. Justin had left the campsite already and I was packing up my stuff. All of the sudden Justin comes back with Ninja. Ninja is a trailname. When you hike on trails you will get a trailname and that is what you will be called by. I have known Ninja for a couple of weeks by now and only know his trailname. Anyways…They both pull back into the campsite. And I was a little confused. Ninja Cowboycamps all nights. He does not carry a tent at all. So he looks at me and says ‚The past two nights were horrible for Cowboycamping, I bet you were really nice and warm in your tent‘. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear after just being rained on in my sleep… I told him that I lost my tent and I had been Cowboycamping too and that I am not happy with my current situation. He starts laughing ‚I know you lost your tent. I climbed Baden Powell a little later than you and your tent was hanging of a branch on a tree and here is your tent‘. I couldn’t believe it. So here was this guy that I barely knew and he decided to carry my tent through the snow and the sketchy section for 30 miles to give me my tent. I was so thankful and amazed by the kindness on this trail. This was simply amazing. Justin actually took a video of this whole conversation thats why he joined him hiking back to the campsite. I can not upload it, because off the internet connection.

So after this start to the day I was ready to crush my first 24 mile day. No snow, no sketchy terrain and I had my tent back. It felt great. And I had learned my lesson, never swear at mother nature while hiking. She’ll get you one way or another. One of the reasons I came out here is because I wanted this range of emotions and it is amazing to see how within one day multiple highs and lows can occur. There is just so much that can happen. Speaking of highs and lows, actually during my really great 24 mile day, I got the news that people had to be rescued of the mountain we just climbed and someone went missing. I am hiking in a high snow year. This comes with a lot of dangers, PCT hikers normally don’t have to face. Sketchy trail sections that carry snow turn into mountaineering routes. I always make sure I am hiking with someone experienced and I don’t overstep my confidence zone with what I am doing. I push myself to my limits but never above.

Now that there won’t be snow for about 250 miles we are all excited to see how that will work out. I am currently hiking by myself, but I kinda keep seeing Ninja and Justin multiple times everydays.

Mile 109 to Mile 266

Mile 109 to Mile 266

It has been quite a while. My phone service is way worse than expected. So within the last couple of days quite a lot has happened, other than the fact that I walked 157 Miles.

My first blog entry was just talking about the first week on trail. Now that I have spent 19 days hiking, this feels like a lifetime away.
After spending a zero, a day of not hiking at all in Warner Springs. Gabriel, Li and me hit off for the next stretch towards Idyllwild.Getting back on trail we figure rather soon that the conditions on trail weren’t exactly what we were hoping for. So we all decided to get off at Mile 150 at Paradise Cafe get some good food and catch a ride into Idyllwild to get proper snow gear.

Here I was afraid of hiking in the snow, another fear that I didn’t hope to face on the trail this early but I didn’t want to skip those miles. By the time we got to Paradise Cafe the mood between Gabriel, Li and me kind of hit an all time low. Let’s face it, we all were simply super annoyed by each other. Or to properly phrase it I annoyed them way too much. So we kinda went our own ways. Knowing the next stretch was supposed to be sketchy me and another fellow hiker women decided to hike it together. We spent the night in a Bed and Breakfast in Idyllwild and after enjoying and amazing breakfast we hitched a ride back to trail Mile 150.

We hiked a couple of miles that day slowly making our way towards the first really sketchy part of the trail. Rumors say that a hiker already had to be rescued this season. I don’t know the facts or details to that but I knew enough that it scared me a lot. The next day was the day were I was hitting snow for the first time.

It was an adventure and in my opinion an extreme one. Looking at the first snowy part of the trail I knew if I’d mess it up, I’d be slipping and sliding down a slope of roughly 1000 feet and that just didn’t feel desirable at all. But I managed. And after that I felt like I just conquered the world. So when I was asked if I’d be ready to hike another 7 Miles I sure as hell was ready for that. It was already 3pm, but I knew I’d manage, cause I just passed that little stretch of snow…

Well I played myself on that one. 3 Miles further up the trail I realized there was no way of getting to a camp spot another 4 Miles ahead close to any decent time. So here I was starting to stress myself. I don’t know why I was thinking that after the first stretch of snow that white stuff would randomly disappear. It obviously didn’t and I was hiking by myself, since the women I was with, hiked so much faster than me. So next icy stretch I didn’t but my crampons on and I slipped. I started to slide down a slope and there was nothing underneath, scared as I was I grabbed onto the next thing which was a little plant full of thistles. I didn’t care I just pulled myself up glad to still be alive. So I put my crampons back on ready to slow down and to face the fact that I would be night hiking. By the time I got to camp it was dark and stormy and the feeling of conquering the world had been long gone and I didn’t exactly feel amazing. Rolling into the camp side there were a couple of other hikers…Gabriel and Li may have made quite an effort to escape me, but here we were again. All camping in the same spot. And since the snow put as on the same schedule this is how it would continue for the next couple of days.

The next day was a short day, because we needed to get to a really sketchy part, that would just be passable in the early morning when it wouldn’t thaw yet. So that day I started hiking at 4.30 am hiking through snow until 1 pm. It was quite deep snow on steep slopes, but overall not as sketchy or scary as the first snowy part. But dragging yourself through snow on sneakers and crampons for such a long time is just rather exhausting. By the time I left the snow behind, Gabriel and Li once again caught up to me, they didn’t start hiking until later in the day, because they can hike a lot faster than me if necessary. Li kinda ended up expressing my feelings for the snow rather well, while passing me. All he was saying was ‚Fuck this fucking white stuff, it’s fucking everywhere and I hate it so much!‘ Or something along those lines. Don’t get me wrong it was beautiful and an experience but it also slows you down so much and just messes with you.

I decided to hike on for another 10 Miles and by the end of the day we were once again all camping in the same spot. I saw that someone wrote SNAKE on the trail and my thought was just, great were the fuck is it? When was it on the trail? 10 Minutes ago? 2 Hours? 6 Hours? So I didn’t die in the snow but now finally a snake will come and get me? Well I once again survived my fear of snakes this time even without seeing one.The day after that we all headed into a small town for resupply, but we all hiked on our own. Once I made it to town and to a fast food restaurant I just wanted to get back to the trail as fast as possible. The place is not a common hiker stop and people were starring at me. The dirty smelly hiker girl that looked like a mess. A nice couple offered me a ride back to the trail and I was so glad that I left the town after only spending 2 hours in it.

Back on trail I was ready to hike. No snow. Just me and the trail. So this was my first night camping by myself. It was an odd feeling setting up camp without anyone around. But it felt good and was another experience I had been looking forward to. In the morning I was ready to hike 20 Miles. I felt ready, I felt great, until I reached a washed out river bed. My next fear to be faced. A river that was to be crossed multiple times, a non existent trail and all of that for the next 12 Miles. So here my plan of a 20 Mile day went…

My feet were constantly wet and I reached a point were I would much rather be falling all over the place rather than hiking. My legs looked and felt like an absolute mess. I had to climb out of the river bed multiple times and simple ended up falling right back down. The backpack and all the extra weight also didn’t really help with that. I found myself thinking more than once, that gladly no one could witness me being a disaster on this trail.The next morning I was doing the same thing again. Heading for a 20 Mile day, but this day I actually started hiking at 6 am, after a couple of feet I had to cross that stupid river again. Not that it mattered cause my shoes never dried anyways. After an overall climb of roughly 5000 feet it happened again. Snow! Well as I knew by then it would slow me down, but I wasn’t willing to give up on the idea of a 20 Mile day. So I pushed it until dark. Because I knew if I’d make it far enough the next town would be an easy hike away.

So here I was 14 Miles out of town. I didn’t see anyone for three days at that point and all I wanted was a shower, which I didn’t have in over a week and a bed. I started hiking and I knew I just needed to get to the highway to hitch a ride into town. 0.4 Miles before the highway I stopped to check how much longer I had to hike for, that moment I start hearing steps behind me and guess what, here my two favorite Canadians walked around the corner and we all can’t help but laugh. Here they are trying to ditch me and all we do is end up in the same spots over an over again. Well we are obviously headed into the same direction. But after not seeing anyone for a couple of days I just assumed they were far ahead and that’s also what they were thinking. We ended up hitching a ride into town together, with another hiker, Justin. In his normal life he lives in a converted schools bus with his wife and his five kids. So it’s pretty amazing talking to him about his way of life and it’s so interesting.

The four of us decided to stay in the same hotel. So here we are in Big Bear Lake, 266 Miles into the Pacific Crest Trail. We took a zero, to get our laundry done and eating amazing food and drinking beer and wine. There is nothing better than eating pizza on the floor and have nice conversations about life and the trail.

So on Wednesday we will be back on trail and once again I will be off on my own. As mentioned in the first blog this stretch was a lot more challenging than the first stretch and I am excited to see how I managed to push myself through it and how I also managed to be just by myself for some days. As of now I can say that this experience is still everything I could have asked for.

The First Week on Trail

The First Week on Trail

109 Miles or in other words 175 km are done. The last week was an intense adventure filled with ups and downs.

Let’s start with getting to the trailhead from San Diego. My cold was killing me and I was just so exhausted before even getting to the start of it all. So this was it? This was the adventure I waited for so long and a stupid cold was going t\no take all the joy away from me? I told myself to suck it up and not let my adventure be ruined like that.

On the final bus ride from Ej Cajon to Campo I met some hikers. Little did I know some of them would still be around today.

Once we arrived at the Southern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail, I felt so eager to start this adventure. I was even ready to ignore my cough, my headache and simply the way I was feeling in general. I was ready.

So I started walking. My first steps on the Pacific Crest Trail. I couldn’t stop thinking about how weird it is, this trail would be my home for the next five to six month if everything goes according to my plan. Every step I took, I felt more confident. It started to feel really good. And then two miles into the hike I almost stepped on a snake. It was just hanging around on the trail and wasn’t bothered by us hikers. But holy shit I was bothered by that snake and almost ran back to the starting point of it all, ready to go home. Apart from that little heart attack I had myself, everyone else was dying of laughter. I have been trying to insert a picture if the snake, but for whatever reason I can’t get it to upload. The snake was not huge or dangerous or whatever. I just didn’t expect to encounter one of my fears so early on the trail.

As mentioned above I apparently still am with some hikers, to be exact I am hiking with two Canadians, Li and Gabriel. I promised myself before heading of to the trail that I would only ever hike with people that are in equal or close to equal physical shape, just so it would be easier for me to hike along with them. So here we go, Li is a freaking marathon runner and Gabriels legs are like two meters long. To sum it up, I don’t know how this could happen. But apparently it works. They push me take it a step further every day and for some odd reason I managed to stay with them up till today. It is just odd that it is working out this well for as long as it already has. Sooner or later I will be on my own though.

So apart from hiking we obviously don’t do much. We fell into the routine of hike sleep eat and repeat rather easily and managed to get our first 22 mile hike in yesterday.

The next section we are encountering feels like it may be tougher than the first one. I would love to tell you how this is all just amazing and beautiful, and don’t get me wrong it is. But adapting your body to such a routine, leaves pretty much everyone on this trail with some kind of pain. For me it’s my feet. I actually expected my legs in general or my messed up knees to give up first, but I have patches underneath my feet were I am loosing skin. And I can tell you one thing for sure hiking without skin underneath your feet isn’t exactly the definition of joy. But I have already seen feet, knees and sunburns much worth than mine.

And one thing is true, once you hike after some hours the pain is gone and everything just goes numb. Not in a bad way you are just able to push the pain aside and enjoy the beauty of everything that surrounds you. The views that are insanely gorgeous, strangers that become close friends within a few days, trail angels that provide water on the trail or a cold beer. Everyone is just so kind and so supportive. Looks don’t matter, it doesn’t matter that no one showered for a week. All that matters is that you enjoy yourself and what you are doing.

Tomorrow will be the first day of not hiking at all, a so called zero, because the weather is not exactly nice at the moment. It is cold and rainy. And my feet are looking forward to that. Today we did stop at a larger campsite and met a bunch of other hikers and we got the chance to take bucket shower and to wash our clothes in buckets. Me and two fellow hiker women decided to quickly turn the washroom into our laundry room. So if you ever thought it wouldn’t rain in Southern California, let me tell you it does.

Coming to an end for my first blog entry on trail I can say, no matter how far I make it on the trail, whether it will be the finish line or not. This is either way everything I could have asked for and I luckily already came to realize there is no such thing as giving up on this trail. It’s not about winning or failing, it’s about how far one can push it and stay feel comfortable.

The Last Days Before Finally Hitting The Trail

The Last Days Before Finally Hitting The Trail

Tomorrow is the day I have been waiting for, for so long. It finally is about to happen. I cannot wait to stand next to the monument of the Southern Trail Terminus to get started.

I suppose this is also the point where I finally should feel prepared enough to be hitting the trail for real.

Well mentally I am ready. My body is not though. I left Germany with a cold, and I was more than certain it would long be gone before I am setting off to hit the trail. Played myself on that one, I don’t know how I ever thought sharing rooms with multiple people before setting off would help me to get better.

So here I am spending my final hours in my hostel bed in San Diego, waiting for a miracle to happen that will make me feel amazing once I wake up.

But either way tomorrow is the day and I am not gonna let a cold take that away from me. So it will be a slow start and I will be listening to my body closely to not push it too far.

My Final Days at Home

My Final Days at Home

Finally flying to Los Angeles sounds like the start of it all, and honestly it kinda also feels like that. But before this trip actually quite some organizing was done. And I do not mean planning every step I will take on the trail, but things that need to be considered far before doing so. Here are a few things I took care off far before leaving Germany.

Must Haves to be able to hike the trail for a distance over 500 miles:

  • PCT Long Distance Permit
  • B2 Tourist Visa
  • California Fire Permit (for using a gas cooking stove)
  • Canada Entry Permit

Well the above mentioned may allow you to actually hike the trail, but purchasing the proper gear is another major milestone. I took my time and considered every piece of gear over and over again. Here I am about to start my journey and do I feel like my gear is absolutely on point? Hell no! And I would also think that this is just a normal learning and adaption process I will undergo on the trail. Realizing what is really essential and important for this hike. So I suppose the content of my backpack will change drastically over time. And some final items I will just purchase upon arrival in the States.
Here is a picture of the gear I am starting out with.

Yes, it is true I really am taking a diary and a hot water bottle. You are probably thinking, that is so stupid. And you also may be completely right in assuming those items are not going to last long, fair enough. I will figure it out on my own and until I get sick of it, I will very gladly enjoy having warm feet at night.

Other random things to consider before getting on a plane:

  • Validation date of passport and credit cards
  • Taking care of vaccinations, some are a must for certain destinations
  • Purchasing a travel insurance
  • Figuring out where to put everything that is not going to fit into the bag one is carrying on the hike itself
  • Getting rid of a car and anything that won’t last without proper care taking