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Monat: April 2019

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.