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.