Latest Entry: 26.04.2021
The great escape
August 30, 163 days later: I finally made it to the Northern Terminus and finished the Pacific Crest Trail in the most gentle sunshine Washington could have offered.
I've thru-hiked the whole 2650 miles / 4270 km in 6'351'193 steps of the PCT, from Mexico to Canada - in one continuous walk - and enjoyed almost every step of it.
The total elevation change has been 420'880 feet / 128'284 m (more than 14 times the height of mt. Everest).
The final days on trail
My hikingbuddy "Beeps" and me kept pushing miles after the Oregon challenge and took only one restday since mt. Shasta - which sums up to hiking 1150 miles in 42 days or an average of 27 miles a day.
The weather played mostly in our favor and i just got damp gear a few times. Washington state presented itself from the best side and sometimes looked like good old Switzerland.
I tried to get my final food resupply in the little town of Stehekin, which never happened. They where sold out. But dayhikers and hikerboxes fed me well and alowed me to keep going - for free! It seems to be a true fact, the trail always provides.
The final nights on trail got colder and reminded us about the beginning back in march down in the desert - and the end of the season. The adventure reached its end in a full circle - weatherwise.
Until the wheels fall off
I'd lost a good part of my bodyfat by the end of the trail and I constantly needed fresh calories in order to keep me going. My body felt drained and the feet seemed to be exhausted after all those steps taken. It was like in that movie "Armageddon", where the actors around Bruce Willis re-enter earths atmosphere in a spaceshuttle: the airs friction heats everything up due to the high speeds, parts get ripped off and it's just the power of will and obsession that gets 'em back home - but we'd landed safe and sound after all.
The Anarchy class of 2020
The PCT thru-hikers of 2020 have been their own breed, so they tell me. It has been a more quiet- and target driven year than normaly, which resulted in a high percentage of finishers. I'd met individuals with no permits at all and other people developed creative solutions to keep going. Did i tell you about that section hiker who never left after that section? Well, he didn't get off and made it all the way to Canada too!
Me, I took every day as a new adventure and just winged it to the very last step.
At the end of the rainbow is a box full of trailmagic
I am happy and proud it all worked out as planned in the troubled year of 2020. It has been an outstanding experience and I look forward to the next adventure.
Being out in Natur and living a wildlife changes ones perception for the time being.
I can smell the scent of my freshly washed leggings for days. I can smell dayhikers before i see them. I am able to read the foottracks of my fellow hikers and spot any movement in the landscape subconciously.
The lack of a signal for that smartphone made me more attentive and i am thankful for that.
What i've learned about myself
I love comfort - but I also don't like to relax if I ain't doing anything. I don't like me when I'm not productive. But when I am, then I can enjoy to relax.
I used to be a high sensation seeker all my life. My friends diagnose me with ADD. I've got an addictive personality. I have heen chasing one fast high and addrenalin rush after the other. Downhill biking, surfing, muay thai boxing, snowboarding and jumping from bridges into water have been my go-to cure. It has been a constant rollercoaster. It brought a whole lot of pleasure - and came along with a great amount of pain. I've been in and out of hospitals on a regular base in the past (more than the average german has been visiting the oktoberfest). Mom, sorry for all those sleepless nights I brought to you because of those accidents I ran into. This past adventure helped me to reminisce about those experiences and i've decided to spend less time in hospitals but more time in the wild.
The Pacific Crest Trail is a gamers paradise and reminds me of Super Mario Land. Remember how you can move around on the map to chose an adventure? That map is like the different sections, vegetations and stretches of the PCT.
It's all fun and games, and when it isn't, you know there will be a different challenge around the next corner. You might walk into a water shortage, a furious rivercrossing, hot days under the desert sun - and cold nights in snow and a high altitude.
And right when you think you'd figured it all out Nature, throws another ingridience at you. As if she wanted to say: "Oh u like it dry? Let me show you all the things I can do with water then. Also I send some wind in your direction. And when you become fed up, she shows you the most beautiful scenery and lights it up with a heartwarming sunshine.
Thanks i guess
This said, I will miss the trail and its awesome people, the friendships made along the way, the hustle and the grind - and 2 Snickers a day.
Thanks to all people whom supported me, you know who you are.
I look forward seeing all you dirtbags out there again.
done thru-hiking having a seat on the northern monument
thank you trailmagician!
same same but different (thanks spitz for the montage)
cought the motherload of free food out of a hikerbox
lunch on a pole
"beeps in the woods"
quick stopp to dry all the fabric
more beauty on the way
morning glory in full effect
my home is my castle
Hiking is definitely not a type 1 fun activity, but the reward after a good day of walking in nature is priceless*. My feet feel glorious and are potentially the happiest feet on trail today. Why shouldn't they? Those badboys came a long walk and they look forward to the final stretch of this adventure. I am at mile 2464 and arguably will be done within the next 10 days - Holidaytime for my feet!
I recently ran into familiar faces again. "Sina" and "Supertramp" showed up at a gasstation and i enjoyed their company very much. Sina is a mother of two i'd met at mt. Baden-Powel and together we climbed that hill in the wee hours. Supertramp had some ankleissues and took it slow for a while. There seem to be a truckload of injuries around: broken toes, infections, wounds and antibiotics had widely been seen recently.
The two trailangels Jill and Tom amd their kids Tommy and Nora offered me 3 full meals of hawaiian chicken rice - homemade and freeze-dried of course. It has been the most bestest gift and food i've ever eaten on trail. Thanks guys! Jill also told me about her thru hike adventure back in 1997 where she turned 15 and had been the youngest person to conquer the PCT at that time. It has been a pleasure listing to their stories and i look forward to meet them in Seattle.
The food resupply is at an all time high - i am no longer able to bring enough on trail to fill me up. I burn more calories then i am able to eat, but hey, i'll head to the next fastfood store as soon as i find one.
My number one Trailfood: SNICKERS. Why? Because it's delicious.
That said i just finished some fine waffles with fresh fruit and whipped cream and am about to charge out into ... what looks like a probably rainy day :/ - but that's okay, i love every step of this journey, no matter how hot/cold/wet/dry it might be.
*Type 2 Fun
Type 2 fun is miserable while it’s happening, but fun in retrospect. It usually begins with the best intentions, and then things get carried away. Riding your bicycle across the country. Doing an ultramarathon. Working out till you puke, and, usually, ice and alpine climbing. Also surely familiar to mothers, at least during childbirth and the dreaded teenage years.
dinner is served
toothbrushing in the a.m.
"beeps" plus trailmagic in a hut
disturbing facts happening
mt. rainier on a sunny day
me and the czech hiker "slider"
room with a view!
"beeps" on trail to canada
45'616 km "i miss my friends"
I got pointed out some trailchallenges and especially liked the idea of hiking all of Oregon in under two weeks - from the Californian stateline up to Cascade Locks and the Washington stateline.
The idea obviously stuck - you know i love a good challenge.
I ended up conquering the 452 miles / 728 km with an altitude difference of 87'500 feet / 26'670 meters within 12 1/2 days.
Blood, sweat and tears had been shed along the way ... and it had been worth every drop. I assume this has been one of the heavier voluntary sportschallenges i'd ever entered and i am stunned by the capability of the human body. Well done body!
The 24 hour challenge
Since i'd already been in one challenge, i figured it would be fun to double down with a second one and hiked thru a whole 24 hour day - from midnight to midnight. Of course it would had been to easy to do it on a flat stretch, so i chose to get it done through the most Oregon mountainrange im sight passing by the famous timberline lodge we all know from the movie "The Shining".
I managed to reel in 63 miles / 101 km with an altitude difference of 12'800 feet / 3'900 meters in 23 1/2 hours and had a good nights sleep afterwards.
The 10 mile challenge
On day 6 into Oregon i had to get some resupply boxes at a resort and figured out the kitchen would have been closed by the time i arrived. I took the distress as a chance and created a new challenge, the 10 mile challenge - and trippled down.
The current time to beat is 1 hour 53 minutes or an average speed of about 5.3 mph or 8.5 kmh.
A New Yorkerian hiker called "Beeps" chimed in on the fun and joined me on all challenges. He's a superfast and determined hiker and we'll probably crush one mile or another together in the near future.
While on a resupply stroll in a local supermarket, a stranger walked up to me and called me "hikertrash". I felt honored but asked him how he came up with it. He pointed out my gators, the dirty clothes and my general appearence and invited me to a gatorade. Thanks for that! It's the little things that make all the difference.
Folks on trail talked about beeing hikertrash since the very beginning of this adventure, but it was at this very moment where i realized what it really means to be hikertrash - mainly to be a dirty, smelly goofball who prefers to be practical above all other needs.
Thanks i guess
Thanks for tuning in. I hope you had fun with these lines. I've got to check out from my room at the Riverside Motel in Stevenson and head out to walk the remaining fifth of the trail - the final section of the PCT through the state of Washington.
Got to go, see y'all soon!
Drying out those shoes
It still gets cold fast in the evening
a thunderstorm in the vastness is a welcome spectacle
Oregon, land of lakes
In need of a pedicure
The Oregonsection of the PCT with a length of 455 miles / 733 km is the perfect playground to test what kind of stress your body and soul can withstand.
It's self explanatory that i had to accept the challenge and so i plan to finish it and walk over the "Bridge of Gods" within 2 weeks - or get around 33 miles a day in.
You'll read about the outcome in around 14 days, right here - and now: GENTLEMEN, PLEASE START YOUR ENGINES!
This is the section where I dump all the thoughts that didn't make it into a final entry until now.
First things first
I love beeing out on trail in the troubled year of 2020 and am convinced it has been the best project in a while.
My feet still getting hurt, especially since i'd took some time off and allowed them to get soft again.
The blisters, blacked out nails and callus on my heels are a moderate price to pay in exchange for all that nature has to offer to me.
The overall body
My body generally works great. I lost a lot of upperbody muscle, but reloacated them to the lower body, where they support the tighs and calves. Looks good so far!
Also i'm pretty healthy considering the current diet and don't have any serious issues to work with until now. Thank you body!
I tried different brands, and different styles. After weeks of pain and different sock-shoe combinations, i'd found what works best for me: trailrunners from "La Sportiva" ans toesocks from "Injinji". And now have fun debating - nerds.
I eat couscous or pasta almost every day - and surround that most important (dinner) meal of the day with granola in the morning, a tuna pouch (thai spicy is the best), a tortillawrap filled with sweet or salty things and a shitload of snacks like proteinbars, dried fruit or Snickers. I'm not advocating that diet for your everyday life - but it works pretty well for me.
For the record: I just resupplied food for 9 days straight: two to get to the Californian border, and 7 to make it halfway through Oregon - where a second package with food for another seven days awaits me.
My home is my castle
Sleeping under the skycanopy has it's own charm and i executed cowboy camping for over a month, but let me reassure you: the quality of sleep gets way better once you got a (tent)wall between you and those furious bears out there. That's why i keep using my awesome duplex tent which weighs about 19 ounces. 'Nuff said.
Entertainment is important and plays a vital role in your everyday hikers life. I transformed from a music enthusiast (nerd) into a podcast lover. Want to find out more? You'll find it just a click away: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5vJaD9ZPkUyCtaDkaIVKoY?si=4jBBhA0ARE2xf8xBQzc9rQ
Have fun stalkers :)
Once you start the Pacific Crest Trail, you start doing big miles. It starts with about 6 miles, but you slowly work your way up to 20, and then around 30. This is where it's at right now but we are planning to max it out at around 35 - Oregon, better be prepared for us flying through your state in no time.
The pandemic is always present, and we prepare accordingly. The second wave seems to hit all over the world, and we are aware of the issue. But, at the same time we believe that there are way worse places to shelter (in place) and are proud to be out here challening ourselves of the PCT. That said: farewell haters!
State of the mentality
I feel glorious out here and embrace every day, sunny or (never) rainy, with all my heart. Can not imagine how life will be once i'm back in society :)
Kings of the trail
Bears seem to be the kings of the trail, but they are not - ants are. They are everywhere - always. Btw, the they make up 35% of the biosphere. Anyways, congrats ants!
Those guys are dangerous! Why? They jump in front of you and try to escape, only to turn back after a few feet to check in on you and then adjust their escape exactly in the same direction you're going. R.I.P
The squirrel as an indivdual recognizes the hiker - and runs for his life, down the trail - then it stops - to check in on your every movent - and after keeps running down the trail for as long as possible, only to take a left or right afterwards and give you the staredown over his shoulder from a distance while making funny noises. Gotta love them squirrels. More please!
It took me quiet some time to get back into the thru hikers mindset. Waiting for Patrick and taking all those days off took it's toll. But since i'm back, i'm loving it. I walk with Kegger and Boonie nowadays and we just ran into Beep and Layla and Daisy and Boston lately ... and had a blast. The "CURVE" and "DRUGDAY" haven't been the only two topics coming up so far. More soon!
I am sitting over a refreshing IPA in Seiad Valley at Wildwood Tavern while typing these words and we are heading out when my job is done here. We will be a group of around 7 people and i look forward to it. Bliss!
final beer at the tavern
a happy camper with his resupply boxes
northern california feels a little bit like the swiss alps
hiking is a dirty job
a hikers dreamcamp
in love with my new toe socks
The good weather is on my side
rabbit "Punky" visited Boonie in mt. Shasta
Kegger and some food for days
a later ct revealed that tibia.bone had been broken
This toenail is due
pain- and sleep medication 2020
bow down bro
second covidwave in the making
it's all about the h2o
raiders of the lost arc
it's probably wine o'clock somewhere on this planet right now
People travel all over the globe for fashion week. No matter if Milan, Paris, London, New York or L.A., people love it.
I started to walk northbound close by L.A., brought the idea of a fashion week along to northern California and decided to turn the Pacific Crest Trail into one huge catwalk.
I'd had all the essential pieces delivered and oh boy, with a new all white backpack from HMG, slick black trailrunning shoes and the green Shorts from Patagucci this hiker for sure looks like a handsome male trashmodel these days.
All you high fashionistas trail, show me what you got!
Hello and welcome back to the halfway show. This is your host Mario and I am about to give you the latest and the greatest.
What happened so far
-I flew into Cancun/Mexico on March 11. Next, I took a bus to the Belizian border and sailed of the coast to an island called Caye Caulker where I met my friends Clay and Alyssa for a sailingtrip on their yacht.
-The news of closing borders made me reschedual an upcoming flight. I left for the ferry to Belize city the next morning and landed at George W. Bush international airport the same night - four hours before they shut down the US borders for european citizens.
-The people of California where excellent hosts.
-I'd set out to walk the Pacific Crest Trail on march 20 - 5 days before the official start date. The Covid situation started to polarize the society in two camps. Social pressure kicked in and i was uncertain about my upcoming adventure but none the less decided to give it a go, even if just for one day.
-I met the German young gun Yannick whom received his trailname "Sonic" shortly after running in front of me all week. We ran together for almost 3 months and I miss the little goofball.
-The Desert was cooler then we all thought.
-I developed shin splints on the right leg and consumed a nondisclosed amount of ibuprofen. A trailangel helped me getting healthy again.
-I'd found out by accident that my surferbuddy Patrick also hikes the PCT - and we met at Kennedy Meadows to head up to Canada together.
-The high Sierra was less dangerous and more beautiful then i thought.
-We night climbed Mt. Whitney.
-We night climbed Forester Pass.
-Both adventures felt more dangerous than expected but where incredible and exciting.
-I cought a few blisters here and there.
-I had to get a tooth fixed in an emergency.
-Patrick developed plantar fascitis which led to me heading back out solo.
-I slept on Half Dome in Yosemite park overnight. The park was closed to the public which meant that I had it all to myself.
- I enjoyed some holidays around Tahoe which had been a marvelous experience.
-Patrick and me met again on trail.
-Patrick broke the tibia bone in while running downhill on trail at night.
-I lost my dear hike compagnion and left the town of Quincy all by myself.
What happened next
I met Boonie and Kegger - the latter of the two I ran into months ago at a Hotel in San Jacinto - and we built a pack.
We reached the midway point on a sunny midday and had a little lunchbreak - of course on the northside of the marker.
Some numbers to crunch
The PCT has a length of about 2650 miles so i'd covered 1325 up to now i guess.
Regarding the terrain and topography, it's safe to say that I passed the halfway a while ago.
Jackie "Yogi" McDonnell from Triple Crown Outfitters at Kennedy Meadows estimated around 600 northbound thru hikers. That's around 10% of how busy the trail is under normal circumstances (from 2016 to 2019).
That's how empty the trail has been back around the turn of the millenium.
I embrace the solitude.
I predict a high percentage of finishers in 2020 due to the increased obstacles all of the remaining competitors had to overcome.
Back into the studio
This is where we are at right now and I wouldn't change a thing but having Patrick with me. If you read this buddy: Get well soon and we'll tackle another adventure in the near future!
And now y'all have fun with the second installment of this adventure.
Patrick and me checked in at the Gold Pan Lodge in Quincy after his visit to the local ER. We watched some quality dvd's (romcoms) and had some cold ones while recovering when i'd got the call. The call into the desert. The sheer promise of a thrilling side adventure had been too tempting to give it a pass.
So off i went: hitchhiking, on the dusty roads of northern California - and sadly no one bothered to stopp for me on this glorious weekend of july fourth.
This is when i did what any sane person would have done: i'd chartered a U-HAUL truck and took of to Reno, where I'd met Jay and Leanna at the local Walmart parking - to proceed deep into the nevadan desert, of course whit a pitstop at the local bar in Gerlach.
We experienced a exquisit weekend out there in the sand together with Alissa, Clay and many more people.
There had been desert surfing, sunrise gasping, mountain climbing and more shenanigans - and after getting back to Reno, my driver Marcelos and me went to the driving range to work on our handicap.
What a glorious weekend!
Shortly after I sayed goodbye to Dan and Stanley at the trailhead - the good dog kept following me - I received a message from Patrick. We gathered within an hour and happily ever after ran up north and into the sunset at Donner Pass.
The Restaurant called Donner Ski Ranch offers 2 big beers for free to all thru hikers. As I sat in front of the first one, Patrick got in. As I sat in front of the second one, a gust of familiar faces from back in April blasted into the shack which led to more beer and spending the night up there.
I-80 and beyond
We geared up and passed highway 80 the next day. The views where still breathtaking and the two of us had the itch for big miles. I passed 3 hikers i'd never seen before in the evening and sat down with them. They introduced themselves as Hotwheels, Rafiki,and Cannonball. Those cats took advantage of their layoff work and headed out to thru hike the PCT - spontanious. I was impressed.
Fear of the dark
I ran into the night, for another couple of miles in high spirits and layed my cowboys bed for the night. Shortly before midnight Patrick turned up and gave me the news: he'd ran after me, through the dark, and twisted his knee on a downhill stretch. We didn't gave the situation much thought then but where lighthearted to be back out in nature - together, as a team of happy goofballs.
The town of Sierra City presented itself like out of a small town america fairytale: friendly, colorful and clean. We booked a room for the night, hung out in front of general store with the gathered people and had great pastadinner at an actual table in a restaurant.
On the way back to the hotel I'd stopped at the general store because of Rafiki and Hotwheels arguing over something back in the patio. As I sat down, they filled me in about the dark past of Sierra City: rumor has it that Adolf H. had spent his retirement up there. Back in the day. Right in front of his arch nemesis. And that there's supposed to be his grave somewhere around a lake. We crosschecked over duck-go-go and there where some traces implying it might be a thesis.
On the run
Cannonball and me had a run up. Means: we challenged each others endurance, down- as well as uphill. We got so thrilled, we made up plans about silly Oregon challenges. When we reached a bridge that spanned high over a river after the 30+ day, we set up camp down below and built a cozy little fire for cooking.
Patrick came in later - and broken. He must have had some serious issues with his knee, because one could see the pain he must have had endured. We enjoyed a movienight on my phone and ate all the remaining candy we could find.
That morning, we had received a call from reality - and we where not thrilled about the subject matter. Patrick was in great pain and not shure if he even cold walk the trail back into society, but there was no other choice so we tackled the incline and set out for a 10 mile march - slow and steady.
I'd heard a car on top and ran after it, hoping he might could give Patrick a ride out of the green hell we where in. As i called after the truck, two gold diggers, Brad and Jeff and their dog Blackass got out - and offered their mental support to Patrick. Soon after, some heavy strong painkillers exchanged hands, whom made Patricks day a little more bearable.
What are the odds?!? The dirt path we stood on got offroaded probably by one vehicle every other day and those friendly guys came by at exactly the roght time. A rolling pharmacy, just for us! Who was it that said the trail wouldn't provide?
From Quincy with love
We reached a regular road. I made a sign to hitch. We got picked up by a friendly jehovian church descendant. Him and his wife gave us the full tour: to the general store, the hospital and the gold pan lodge in Quincy.
Patrick got an x-ray, crotches and a kneebrace and the doctors said that he would just need some rest over the fourth of July weekend. So we did what we do best: we got comfortable with pizza and beer, in bed, in front of the tv, with a stack of high class dvd's. Little heaven on earth for us two dirtbags.
Little did we know about what the future held ready for us...
i feel caught red-handed by dr. frog
patrick in his brand new hikinggear
injured patrick with an emergency-hitch-sign
the rolling pharmacy: our two lifesavers brad and jeff plus their dog blackass
two monkeys got served
breakfast for trashhikers
free beers at donner ski ranch for all the hikertrash
how easy would it be if the lift would run?
Clay, Alissa, Dan, Audren, Jay and me set out for a couple of miles on the Tahoe Rim Trail. We hiked by lake Aloha and had a crafty mushroomstew for breakfast on day two. We've listened to a 2004 eurovision hitsong by O-Zone and honed our japanese language skills while doing so. Cowboycamping was the way to go, no matter how many mosquitos joined the party. Bears seemed to be more of an issue anyways, judged by the news i'd got by a thru hiker whom got all of his food stolen and Patrick's story about a bear whom went on a rampage to get his goodies (and circled him all night). Our gang made as little as 32 miles in three days and when we awaited Dan on a trailhead which he would had been approached later on that day, we'd decided to head back down into Tahoe City for some delicious swiss wiener schnitzel prepared up by yours truly.
Later on that night, Dan showed us his brandnew Vr-goggles, whom led to a extended battle for the highscore in a game called "Space Invaders".
A fest in the forest
The next day, a monday to be on point, there happened to be a party in the woods with a full on soundsystem blasting. It had been the first time beeing back at a party for all of us in 2020 and i indulged the positivity of the event.
A lazy float
After the rave, I got up at 10 a.m and figured out how to get to the river together with my compagnion Jay. We got snacks along the way and swung our lazy asses onto raftingtubes - with a full blown group of recreational adventurers - to tackle the local river for a relaxed float downstream. The sunshine was spotless, the water felt crispy on my skin and the lightbeer had been icecold.
That happened on a tuesday and i was blown away by our group enjoying the outdoors - whereas some people might would have been at work?
We packed up our stuff at the finishline and got - attention all you nonbelievers - picked up by a stretchlimo from Tiffany and Bingogenius Rusty. At that point Jay turned to me while entering the car and mumbled: "Mario, this is getting surreal". Needless to say that we acted like this is the most normal thing in the world.
We where accompagnied by Stanley and Phil - two dogs whom are the biggest goofballs around the Lake and made me laugh constantly - when we had a Bbq at Dan's house that night.
Thanks for showing me the insights of your everyday life and the incredible hospitality, i had a blast. Anyways, you know who you are. Cheers.
Diving into the local culture with their founders is finding your favorite icecream at the local gas station after an extended summernight at the river with your best friends.
caramel-chocolate icecream topped of with mochies and rainbow sprinkles from heaven
second pandemicwave is feared
the partyhosts rusty & tiffany in front of their familywagon
tiffany is a prohost
stanley the memedog goofin' around
go big or go home in the bingolimo
dan in the happyzone
jay kicked back and relaxed before troubled waters hit
good vibes with dan and tiffany while river rafting
tahoes finest at the first party of 2020 in the forest
the battle of "space invaders" sporting vr glasses is addictive
phin checking me out thinking: "hey, you got food?"
happy faces in happy places
original wiener schnitzel night
finn for president
hikers of fortune
the bestest tent in the game
siestatime on lake tahoe rim
on the way to the trail
the covid is back
Ball busting drops on the Tahoe trails
43'975 km "I live my life a quarter mile at a time"
-Dominic "Dom" Toretto
-Dominic "Dom" Toretto
The lord himself gave us another day of perfect weather, which we converted into a highspeed expedition down the local biketrails.
Clay, his friend Rambo and I got all our special gear together and headed out in the general direction of the Northstar California Resort. Rambo was about to show us a secret/illegal Tahoe biketrail, a real local gem.
We stopped by Johns house, a charismatic individual with a dislocated shoulder at the time whom seemed to be a bikepro, gave us a lift up Martis Peak, where the three of us gazed at the stunning 360 degree panorama from the fire lookout.
As we unleashed our skills on the first quarter mile, it dawned to me, that these pristine trails had a fierce and spicy touch to them. High velocity stretches and switchbacks alternated with technical sections. But don't worry mom, no shenanigans like steep drops or roadgaps from your favorite son this time. I behaved well since I'm a grown up nowadays.
We raced the singletrack like little brats and at one point I hooted and hollored out of joy.
We made it back to our car safely, packed up the bikes and treated ourselves with a "Blizzard" icecream from a local drive thru on the ride back home.
I am stoked that I still got my bikeskills and look forward for MORE!
That night I finally had the chance to pamper Clay and friends with the swiss fondue sent by my mother (just took about 2 months to arrive).
Racing down the slopes on a downhillbike feeling at home while flying over a gap is like finding a love thought long gone again and embracing her mysterious personality.
Clays Tahoe crib turned into a Swiss Fondue Chalet
Rewarded ourselves with some serious sugarbombs after biking the trails
Cruisin' to the next leg of the trail
Ready to rumble on Marty's peak fire lookout
Rambo advertises PARTY 4 LIFE
Unloading the bikes
Loaded up and ready to pull the trigger
You knew it, i'd always believed it - and now we've got proof: rock climbing is fun, suits my persona and is cut to my new bodyshape. I've lost 18 pounds so far and weigh in at 147 which is be a good baseweight for climbing - so they say.
I'd got picked up by Anthony, a friends friend, in the morning and we drove towards the Emeralds - a local climbers paradiese. While on our way, i'd got food and rented climbing shoes for the day.
We teamed up with Audren and his friend Olivia and made our way to "The Dollar Store Wall" - a sweet little climbers beginner wall - where i got introduced, and addicted, to rock climbing.
Mark my words swiss mountains: i'm coming for you when i'll be back home - 4 sure!
High on dopamin after the job is done
Audren taking a little break
Another life in Anthony's hands
Building up trust in the gear and myself
Anthony and Audren safe the day for Olivia and a random climber
Studying "THE DOLLAR STORE WALL"
Laugh now cry later
The boy received A LOT of mail
There's no more to say about the title of this piece but: the past two days have been pure bliss.
Escaping the cold, i'd ran 2 miles downhill on trail after a long night filled with an icestorm, just to make it in time for an appointment with my lift out of the wild - back into society.
Audren, an avid outdoorsmen and climber i'd met at burning man some years ago, had been awaiting me in his vintage Subaru imprezza. After a big HELLO we jumped ship and raced down to south lake Tahoes postoffice, which we reached five minutes before they closed shop at a sunny saturday afternoon. I picked up 3 boxes filled with: a pair of shoes, a container of supplements (1000 extra calories a day!!!), as well as the long awaited (since about 2 months) box full of GOODIES FROM SWITZERLAND.
Thanks mom, all the chocolate & cheeses finally found their way to a safe haven - and i look forward to show the locals how a delicious fondue is done.
While i'd been at the postoffice, i'd also picked up 2 boxes for Dogbite, whom still was out in the mountains.
We'd all sat together a little later at the local mexican joint over chickenwings and soon enough my friend Dino arrived from San Francisco.
Long story short: Dino and me checked into a legit 5 star Hotel that afternoon and went into a delicious foodspree for the next 36 hours - late night pizza and a rejuvenating trip into the whirlpool inclusive.
I feel super relaxed while typing these words and sit at "Hangar", a local brewery - while awaiting Clay (you remember him from back in Belize in march 2020) to pick me up for some recreational outdooramusement until mountaineer Patrick arrives - and then we all together will pick up on hiking the PCT on the Tahoe Rim Trail.
I can't breathe
Breakfast in heaven
Home away from home
With the bestest host dino in his Mini turbo
Finally got ALL the good stuff from the old world at hands (Thanks mom!)
Local Audren and Dino from S.F. lit by the golden sunset
Living large for a night
The high sierra has been an extraordinary adventure where i had my fair share of ups- and downs. It also has been the most thrilling, demanding, freezing, exhausting, wild, impressive, snowy and rewarding rollercoaster, where the circumstances have been given to each and every one to fathom and expend his comfort zone so far.
The most demanding section of this quest comes to an end and i feel honored that i had the possibility to participate in this enterprise, especially when taking into consideration that we write the troubled year of 2020 with very little people on trail.
I take pride in every step that ended in postholing and the challenging climbs through night and day i'd made so far - but i am also grateful to get down to south lake Tahoe to experience some social context over the next couple of days.
Sidenote: always watch your last steps when homebound. Dogbite (who also wore grinded down footwear at the time) seemingly didn't pay enough attention and slid down a steep Incline while crossing a snow patch. Luckily he reacted fast and had been able to self arrest himself. Who would have thought something like that would happen after all the days we'd spent surrounded by snow. Guess that's life trying to teach us a lesson.
a cold morning with harsh winds before entering south lake Tahoe
sunrise after a long nights snowstorm
You never know when you finally slip like Dogbite at the end of the sierra section
Trailmagic happens in curious places
Frog from Michigan leaves his mark on an inflatable cow
Supertramp is in for a second round of dessert
Cody from down under is a Bocuse
The kiwis enjoy a free breakfast
Dogbite is always hungry for more
sleepover at the down under's gang
farewell old lad (bearcanister)
beers and smartphones after mountaindays
Last days in snow
Dogbite and me hiked along a mountainrange into a forest while he stared at his smartphone and all of a sudden said: "STOPP RIGHT HERE, we just hit the 1000 mile marker!"
We ultimately looked for a sign on the ground, but couldn't find any. So we'd built our own shrine - in bold letters - for us and the future hikers passing through.
We'd also engineered the monument to the extreme and lost our heads a little while constructing it - but figured the fourth "zero" would have been a krass exaggeration and thus used the remaining buildingblocks to make the "1000" look even more impressive.
I am proud that we could give something back to the community and now look forward to the next thousand miles. Ride on!
Coffee before high noon
I made my way back to trail and slept on a bench at reds meadows. Got woken up by a ... bear?!? Turned around to see what's happening and happily found a little pupperino (dog) snooping through my stuff. His owner soon came over and offered me hot coffee plus a little chat. He then proceeded to cut down some trees with a long chainsaw while i started to make some serious miles towards north. Reached Donohue pass around 6 pm where i sunk my body thighdeep into the snow. I called it quits for the day and slept on a rock island as little as 0.5 miles before the peak. Heard coyotes howling all night long and proceeded to the other side at dawn - only to find myself in Yosemite Park. Finally!
I've got greeted by tons of deer, marmots, squirrels and rabbits while i made my way through the meadow. People seemed to be right when they said that the park replentished with wildlife while it had been closed to the public. Covered the 12 miles to Tuolumne Meadows easily and kept on going 20 more miles after lunchbreack - but then i had reached my destination - i stood below Half Dome on the western end of Yosemite park.
That's by far the longest stretch i'd cleared up to date. And while getting there passed through a burned down forest with a by times mysteriously dissolving path rife with butterflies and crossed by small streams.
What are the odds?
I didn't know if the park rangers allready installed the ropes to climb up that rock - but to my astonishment - they did! The sun was about to go down which meant that the run against time was on to make it up there because i wanted to experience the sunset while sitting on that famous triangle rock overlooking the valley and facing west.
You know what? My plan worked! Executed as accurat as a swiss clockwork!
Subsequently i'd monitored the weather - on- as well as offline - and set up camp for the night after beeing convinced i wouldn't get thunderstormed down from the top.
As the moon came up and the stars set at their place in the sky, i'd found out that i'd hit the perfect moment - a full moon greeted me from a cloudless heaven.
As i fell asleep in my cozy sleeping bag i'd noticed a little mouse circling me, but her appearance didn't bother me anymore at that point.
I got up early the next morning, only to stare in an all grey soup and soon after made my way back to the PCT - not without tackling Clouds rest - while having a thick smile slapped on my face.
This sideadventure has easily been the most overwhelming one so far, but i'm open to whatever follows next.
Sidenote: My body feels the tango from the last 2 days - from head to toe. Call me autschiman :)
The feeling of falling asleep on top of half dome all by yourself during a full moon night while beeing the only visitor at Yosemite park below is you randomly flicking a quarter into a slotmachine while strolling through a casino with your best friend in the wee hours and hitting the million dollar jackpot.
keep it safe future visitors!
Clouds rest is a beauty
morningglory in the mist
Room with a view
Home for the night on top of Half Dome
saw a babydeer while crossing Yosemite park
Nature is a beauty
cowboycamping on a rockisland up Donohue pass
Just sent all the unnecessary snow-gear back home - plus bounced some of the packages that travel around in the USPS post-pandemic-limbo. It ain't an easy job, but somebody's got to do it. Looks like there will be a fondue-new shoes-weightgainer-surprisepackage fest at south lake tahoe. Y'all ready?
Houston, we have a problem
Up on arrival i'd checked in with Patrick. He looked good and was positive about continuing his quest. A couple of beers later the world seemed to be upside down again. Right after the pandemic wave got old, people started to burn down and loot stores and shopping malls after a Police officer suffocated a black individual to death. GAHTS NO (transl: HOW DARE YOU)?!? World wide demonstrations followed all week, also up here in Bishop - under the surveillance of heavily armed police troopers.
My personal struggle in a sidenote: I had a problem with one tooth since around mile 100 and kept my gums as healthy as possible through rigorous flossing and saltwater flushing - but a part of the tooth broke out - leaving me with no other solution then to go and see the dentist. He did a good job and an exclusiv amount of money spent later i had french toast plus two eggs sunny-side up and bacon soaked in maple syrup (my personal trail favorite) IN AN ACTUAL RESTAURANT! Loved it but bit a pretty good chunk out of my tongue due to half the mouth beeing uthanized from the forego teethcare. Needless to mention it has been a painfull experience since the serum wore off.
Licence to chill
Remember when i've got shin splints around mile 250? Didn't find the time to let it heal out for about 120 miles due to tricky weather conditions. Trail angel Dough and some rest days took care of business but until i was over with it i'd ate ibuprofen like kids eat candy. I've learned out of that mistake and found myself some CBD oil laced with THC - which i add to dinner almost every night. It's an incredible substance: it relaxes your sore muscles in the back, the legs and shoulders, each and every one of them - and it helps falling into a relaxing night full of sleep.
I used to smoke thc back in the days when i was a skater-boy. Not as much as some folks on trail but i had my fair share of recreational experiences. I won't do that anymore because i don't like to be as stoned as i liked to be as a teenager, but to be a tiny little bit high goes a long way after a long day hiking out there.
What i'd learned so far in the Sierra Nevada
- How to summit a mountain in a snowstorm at night
- How to stay warm during a below zero snowstorm while sheltering in a mountainhut.
- How to mountaineer a couloir at night
- How to underdose with (THC/CBD) edibles
- How to pack more food then needed
- How to reconsider choices when circumstances change
- How to happily survive by myself in the mountains
- How to do pistol squats (with the left leg only so far)
- Sometimes it's more to take the foot of the gas because it will get you farther :)
P.s. Pandemic Papers
I listen to podcasts on a daily base and stumbled up on "Science vs." Those guys do a great job examining issues like: the corona virus. But, they also did a "what if" simulation about what would happen if a pandemic would spread globally - back in october 21 2019. You know what? They'd almost predicted EVERYTHING exactly as it then happened. Down to every little detail! Did i hear you whisper conspiracy theory? Find out for yourself: https://open.spotify.com/episode/1D78VfU9fRsEDKX8JtJIem?si=eDzWQmI1SimzG3Xnoz455A
Find out even more if you are interested in my personal pandemic papers collection on spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7MYsFEAjPfGWndGRQg8hrx?si=SlC-K2R8RcCziCBWGd8WNg
Watching the sunrise high up in the Sierra Nevada is you opening a letter from whatever institution you applied to - that starts with the sentence "Dear Person, We are happy to announce that you are granted at our facilities..."
I'd always wondered how i would react to an uncut dose of the pure Wild when all by myself. The experience has been one of best in a long time. Haven't met one single soul for the first 2 days - whether a human- nor a bear soul. Made me quiet and calm.
Day two - from mile 794 until 812 - has easily been one of the more demanding stretches. Why? Someone told me to pack food for around 8 days, which has been enough information to me to just head out and enjoy myself without further investigation. Little did i know about Mather Pass at mile 816 and the fact that one doesn't want to pass it long after sunrise because: the horrible postholing. So i postholed for half a day before Mather but after summoting Pinchot pass - the occasional screaming and shouting towards heaven uncluded.
Early the next morning, i'd ran into the south African gang whom took the shortcut up Mather Pass. Like we did before climbing up Forrester. Of course i followed them and had a great day both on and off with those guys. That same night, Sonic and Ash cought up with us and we figured out where along the way i had missed them. For the remaining climb up Muir Pass and the coming days the 3 of us weere a loose bubble of buddies hiking north.
This is how my days looked like:
- Day 1: 21 miles - 2 passes
- Day 2: 19 miles - 1 pass Pinchot postholing
- Day 3: 21 miles - 1 pass Mather
- Day 4: 18 miles - 1 pass & 'lil bump in the knee
- Day 5: 21 miles - 1 pass & mosquitos
- Day 6: 19 miles - 1.5 passes & 3 times snow
Then it became time to get down to Mammoth (where almost everything has been closed down), regroup and hitch for 3 rides in total with the most gentle group of people back to the normal world of Bishop.
no i didn't fall into the clear waters
it's all fun until they catch you slippin'
deep into the posthole game
the coyote smelled me before i've seen him
Fast times at I-395
The delicious Hostel at highway 395 in Bishop seems to be a hot-spot for PCT hikers. I'd seen quiet a lot of familiar faces while planning the next leg in the general direction to Canada. Patrick made an appointment with a good foot doctor. Got diagnosed with plantar fasciitis (google it, you don't want it). He was out of the game but into ibuprofen, physical therapy and a daily stretching routine. Sonic and Ash went back into the mountains fishing. I ought to follow the next day - not without going on a take away food-spree with fellow hiker Splash in her rental car to splurge ourselves with sushi and milkshakes. Bliss.
The following challenge when hiking northbound on the PCT after mt. Whitney is typically Forester pass.
We'd been tired from the most recent summit and slept in until about noon. Ash and Sonic had been long gone when Patrick and me proceeded in our journey. We decided en route to push through and conquer Forester pass, and beyond.
Patrick, a seasoned mountaineer and adventurer, suggested we'd climb up the couloir instead taking the normal switchbackroute.
I was all game for that plan and we had a hell of a time climbing into the night. The very last section had been a thrilling challenge. Let me put it this way: next time i'll show up with more rugged equipment :)
I was at peace with me and the cristal clear nightsky when we took the mandatory selfie on the summit and Patrick and me both felt fortunate to experience what we just did when we headed down the northside through 5 inches deep powdersnow.
Little did we know that this very fresh snow would accompany us until setting up camp on a dry rock some wearisome 5 hours later where i cooked hit chocolate and couscous for dinner - much to the joy of our ravenous bodies.
Long story short: mountaineering is addictive - and an addrenalinrush. I'm hooked!
Trailmagic on kearsage pass
Pristine mountains to the south
Breakfast after a long night in snow
Thanks shoes, you did a great job
Forester pass in the books
Nightmountaineering is fun
Going straight up the a-line
About to conquer the forester pass couloir
Ready to rumble
On the run south of forester pass
360 degrees beauty
Meetup with the african gang before forester pass
Sonic taking care of business
All white in the morning after some surprise snowfall overnight
After some easy days in the high sierra we where ready for a new challenge. Mt. Whitney was next on the list and we planned to see the sunrise from the highest point in the lower 48ths of the USA.
We'd met up at the basecamp around 10'500 feet with the south african gang whom just got back from the summit. They filled us in about the current conditions and advised to bring the warmest clothes available.
The weather looked delicious so we'd been positive about our ascent.
We left the same night at 10 p.m. and summited the peak at 3.30 a.m. sharp while in a snowstorm whom hit us halfway up. There's not much more to say. See for yourself. Pictures sometimes tell the bigger story than a thousand words.
Harsh Times on mt. Whitney
For those whom read until here: we'd made it back to safety after hunkering down in the shelter on top of mt. Whitney at 14'505 feet for about 3 hours. It had been quiet cold but we'd brought our sleeping bags which served as lifesavers as we all cuddled together in a corner of the hut. That's how you keep it cool when shit hits the fan :)
This adventure has been definitely a new experience and i'm lovin' it. Bring it on mountains!
Iced out backpack
Patrick in love with the mountain
Patrick aka Beb
Ash the globetrotter
Warmer gloves would be prefered
Cool weather 2020
The four summiteers ready to return to safety
Sheltered down and keeping it warm on mt. Whitney
Sunrise on top of mt. Whitney
Welcome to the first part of the second installment of this adventure: the rollercoaster aka. the up and down mountain region aka. The Sierra Nevada - where i covered some 45'000 feet in altitude since Kennedy Meadows.
Rememeber Kennedy Meadows? The place that is to hikers what Java is to surfers and what Mecca means to muslims? That's the praised land of milk and honey. Before heading out we assembled a team that existed of young Sonic from Germany, surfer-buddy gone full blown mountaineer Patrick from Boston, ex cop gone vagabond Ash from Switzerland and me myself.
Some days before i'd done my laundry, showered again, played frisbee golf accompanied by a funky bunch and some cold beers, car-surfed on top of a Toyota truck, digested greasy food and had some more beers (Mango Cart Ale) with Jay, a friend i'd met at burning Man whom visited from L.A.
Jay also came by for hiking a day when we started into the mountains and probably will be back on trail sooner or later to escape the city and society.
Also things changed gear-wise after Kennedy Meadows. We all got ice axes, microspikes, waterproof socks, and a bearproof canister to store food (that one is mandatory).
On top of that, since there had been some late year snowstorms, most passes still had been closed - which resulted in packing more food and thus a heavier backpack.
Bringing a ton of food on trail also has it's advantages. Like: how about creating a chunky peanut butter, almond honey granola, bacon, beefstick, jackcheese, and garlic tortilla wrap for lunch? definitely an all time winner.
The wildlife and vegetation changed with the topographics and steep hills plus snow also equal shifting down in a slower but steadier pace while hiking. We danced to a new rhythm, stopped filtering drinking water and carried no more than a liter with us at any given time.
I knew the air force loves to exercise their little shennanigans in the area we hiked, but when i heard the sound of a jet-engine coming closer i still felt a trembeling sensation: And there he was, like out of the movie Top Gun 2 - BOOM - A F-16 lowpassed through the valley right in front of me. Stunning.
Getting duped by Ash
One night after dinner, Ash asked: "What is it with your page? Northofsociety? I've seen that in a logbook. Bro, i've got close to half a million followers on my facebook page. They're going to love your blog!" I was flattered. Also Ash cought us coldhanded in his statement, which sounded feasible given the fact that he travels the globe since over four years - but of course he was just fucking with us. Ash 1:0 rest of us - Well done Ash!
Lost and not found
Sonic lost his phone. After he fell in deep snow. When he found out, him and me backtracked for about half an hour and dug holes with our bare hands. But no, no smartphone. Sonic wasn't ready to let go and ran forth and back to get his ice axe - just to plow through the estimated area for another five hours. Meantime Patrick was in agony due to non disclosed pain in both heels. In summary: a miserable day.
Harsh times in mt. Whitney
The mt. Whitney night ascent has been a thrilling challenge. I wouldn't change a thing but if i'd do it again i'd bring better suited equipment along with me.
Straight up the A-Line
The same applies to Forrester Pass. An incredible experience but I got cold hands at the very end of that ascent.
The Yes Men
Patrick and me had the great plan to hike all the way from Kennedy Meadows up to Mammoth Lakes - around 200 Miles or 18 days out in the wild - but we reconsidered past mt. Whitney, Forester Pass and the tons of fresh snow that made traveling as fast as we'd liked to travel a struggle. Our food rations would be bizzarrely little sized for the second leg of the 200 miles to Mammoth. That's why i packed my tent after a short nights sleep when Sonic and Ash arrived at our spot. We headed down to Indendence and hitched a ride with a green berret who served in Vietnam at the sweet age of 18 years from there up to Bishop for the mandatory resupply.
Ash keeps it cool
China lake naval Airbase down in the desert
How about a chunky peanutbutter, almond honey granola, bacon,, b
Sonic the hedgehog on watch
First sierrameadow in sight
Bye bye for now
Assembled Sierracrew plus trailangel Jay
Ever heard about the crazy stuff cowboys do? Of course you have. I wrote about it in a previous post. A cowboy does what a cowboy wants. That's: cowboycamping. Cowboycamping has some advantages. Like getting eaten by a bear, or exploring the sky. Shooting stars and satellites. Tons of it. Fancy that! A couple of nights ago, me and some other hikers gazed at the stars and there it was. A nighttrain of satellites crossed the sky. All aligned. At least 14 of them. A little research later i'd learned: Elon Musk keeps shooting those little boxes into the stratosphere to connect the whole world to the internet. In a couple of years people won't know about starsigns anymore but can name every satellitetrain racing through sky. Long story short: i've spotted them. 2 nights in a row. And it takes them some 90 minutes to make it once aroundnthe globel. Check them out!
Starlink is a satellite constellation being constructed by SpaceX to provide satellite Internet access. The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), working in combination with ground transceivers. (Source: Wikipedia)
I've happened to walk 108.6 miles for the last week. On my way i met some motocross guys who rode the PCT (illegaly!!!). The one guys chainlink broke, which opened up the opportinity for a little marijuana infused discussion. The outcome? The bikers where happy to see us on trail and questioned the ongoing (sic.) naziregime. They then said their prayors and off i went.
As i came around a corner, there it was. It looked like a crime scene. On the side of the trail was a backpack. Ripped open. All accessories lying around. I'd seen a groundsheet, toothbrush, notebooks filled with disturbing writing (think 666) and a full on repertoire of drug paraphernelia (think crackpipe). I felt kind of disturbed and called 911. "What's your emergency?" a soft voice asked. I gave her my longitude & lattitude and fled the scene.
That same day a hiker appeared and told me the following story: he and his buddy where jocking around when he got pushed into the bushes. Bad luck struck and he found himself with a splinter in his calf. When they finally pulled the thing out, it was way longer then anticipated. The thing had some massive 10 inch dimensions. Let this soak into your concissouness! No joke. I've seen the footage. Anyways. He could not keep going and went to the hospital. When he got out a couple of antibioticinjections later, he cowboycamped that very night and a scorpion crawled into his sleepingbag - only to STING HIM IN THE VERY SAME CALF THAT THE SPLINTER TRIED TO STAB DEATH IN THE FIRST PLACE! So, back to hospital. Hanging out for some more days. Took the doctors a long time to figure that one out. In the end: Another bill.
Breaking news: I'm finally a morningperson! A larkguy as one would say it in german. Like the bird that goes to sleep early but also does the same in the morning. Don't believe me? Neither do I. But, just look at my morningritual from yesterday: got a splinter out of my heel first thing after waking up, taped both heels due to old blisters, took a picture of the sunrise, dried the sleepingbag, had delicious breakfast, brushed teeth, followed natures call, packed up gear, downloaded a podcast and wrote these lines before 7:30. Numbers don't lie. I'm hypereffective. Bro!
I walk through the mountains. Like. Every day. There's a dirtroad to cross. A green atv-golfcart slowly crawls up the hill and stopps right in front of me. Two jacked guys in yellow jumpsuits from the NFA (National Forrest Association) turn their heads and look at me. It's a stand off. As I smile at them and say my hello, we eyeball each other. Probably. These dudes both sport the characteristic "Men In Black" sunglasses. Which means they might take a little nap. Who knows? But my Swiss cheesieness finally melts their toughness. After a slow start including the PCT and the outlook about national parcs reopening we discuss the drivers wristwatch and the very short swiss days (stereotypes). Like all the folks I've met so far, these men have been superfriendly. Gotta love america. We wish each other the best of luck and off they drive to fight a little bushfire while reassuring me that there is nothing to be affraid of.
It was clear bright day full of sunshine. Hot sunshine. I stood at Walker Pass. Thumbs up. The 18 wheelers passing by didn't fall for my hitchhike attempts, but - the biggest black dodge ram van in history of mankind did! You had to be there to see that humongous beast. The truck stopps. Window goes down. Out look: John Doe (he wouldn't tell me his real name). A full on desert dweller. Of course he wore the essential cowboyhat including a bolo tie .The driver gave me a ride along the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake down to Ridgecrest. He told me about the advanced weapons testing and the sheer size of the station. The installation is the Navy's largest single landholding, representing 38 percent of the Navy’s land holdings worldwide. In total, its two ranges and main site cover more than 1.1 million acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. Where did my driver got all that information from? From experience! John used to be a Navy Seal. He flew over the bay of Pigs in Cuba, did some Vietnam war stuff in the summer of '69 and became a helitech once back in reality. A helitech is a firefighter whom jumps out of a chopper. Directly into the dangerzone. Like the actor Josh Brolin in the movie "Only the Brave". But airborne. Fireblanket to take cover under in a firestorm included. Unlike Josh Brolin he obviously survived. Married to his third wive. Has 3 kids. A happy man. And an outlaw. Grew up in the Bay Area. Hung out in Richmond, a hotspot for the Hell's Angels back then. He wouldn't go into the details about his adventures but it became clear that he used to be a one percenter. Then we reached the local Walmart where he shouted "and now i'm a goin' to run over this son of a bitch" in the parking lot while accelerating towards a couple of people. Turns out it was his son and they played those little tricks on each other. What a badass.
After getting my staples in the supermarket i've met up with Sonic from germany, whom also made it into town. We draw a sign to hitch back out but flagged the local bus down that brought us up to Walker Pass. Three days and some rejuvenating miles later i made it to Kennedy Meadows, the holy ground for any PCT thru hiker. Think of it as NYC for graffwriters, Burning Man for festivalgoers or Goa for yogaenthusiasts. At 702 miles the small town marks the end of the desertsection and is the gateway into the high sierra. Presumably the most demanding but breathtaking stretch of this journey.
The curious case of Patrick Barry
So here i am, sitting in front of Grumpy Bears burgershack. Waiting for mail to arrive. And Patrick. A surferbuddy I'd met 8 years ago in Panama. Found out this Cool Cat also walks the PCT. Well done Facebook! What are the odds!?!
He's in San Diego tuning his body back into shape since he lost 19 pounds on the hike up here (no joke) but will be back by tuesday night. That's when we'll team up. Which means we'll be in the mountains by wednesday. That gives me enough time to slowly get my gear together. And food. For at least 10 days. Remember, we are quiet early in the season and there are still ginormous amounts of snow and storms out there. Just got of the (group)phone with a hiker who had to drop out around Shepherd Pass Trail right after mt. Whitney. So people discuss strategies. People are nervous. I'm excited. Roger that!
Also: happy mothersday! Mom, you are my fav mother. 4eva!
Me drinking an icecold beer in Kennedy Meadows is you driving into the sunset with the windows down on a hot summer night while your favorite song is playing on the radio.
Leave no trace no matter the size of the desert
a snnnnnneaky snake taking a nap
Siestatime after a sweaty morning
Hitchin' a busride back out after a resupply in ridgecrest
Best view for days
Chillin' in the pool desertstyle
Had to drill some escapeholes into the right toenail
At least both feet look the same
Mount Whitney at hands reach
Somebody flipped the switch and night became day, snow turned into sand, wet became dry, cold became warm and the grey sky changed into a faboulus blue, the bestest sunshine one can imagine. The landscape changed from hefty mountain ranges into gentle meadows where the smitten trail weaves around. From freezing sub-zero temperatures to hellish desert weather. Then god himself stepped down from heaven and opened his gates to paradise. In my fantasy. But if, then he probably would show up in southern California to offer its inhabitants entry to his exclusive club. After all, this is god's country and america is the land of unlimited possibilities. God bless.
The trail played a new rhythm and I'm all game to dance to that beat.
Where the Buffalo roam
Then I came over a ridge and there they where: Two Buffaloes crossed my path. Googley eyed. High on life. Happy. Then another one showed up. And another. A texan Longhorn came around the corner and critically examined me. I did the same. Back to him. We all looked at each other and when i snapped some pictures, they gave me their best model poses.
When I reached the campground of Acton, the hippie hikers I met at some hot springs gave me a warm welcome. After the usual chores (laundry, shower, setting up tent), we had a hot dinner and discussed future hiking strategies over a cold beer.
The campground was part shut down, which made the empty swimming pool look cooler and reminisced to the L.A. 80's skater scene.
I got food for about 7 days and headed out north in the late afternoon. After crossing highway 14,the trail leads to a beautiful as well as well known valley.
Planet of the apes
I cowboy-camped at the world famous film site of the above mentioned film. And Star Trek. And a ton of commercials. I slept like a baby. In the morning I dug a hole and followed natures call. So, be aware and watch out for uneven terrain when watching your next sci-fi fantasy blockbuster: my shit might get famous in that silverscreen in the very front of you.
What to do when life offers lemons
It was incredible warm at Agua Dulce, so I naturally seeked shelter in a shaded area behind a (temporarely closed) private church. The caretaker showed up soon after I layed down and offered some sugar sweet lemons. Say no more - an instant later i slashed those puppies and made - you are right - LEMONADE. Delicious!
The coming days I ran into a new old gang I've met back at Cajon Junction. We all walked together down into
That was a mindblowing view. An orange sea of the blooming Californian state flower. At that very moment, I felt more at peace then the hippies at Woodstock festival in the summer of '69.
Terry, owner and driver of the famous "Weevill Grill market" gave us a ride to his shop, cold beers included - while reassuring me he hasn't seen the orange flower bloom as beautiful in 25 years. Lucky us!
One desert. One street. One trailerpark.
The upcoming days have been filled with recreational activities. Boss of our very profound food needs was Maria - chef, good soul and milkshake (with a twist) wizzard of the market. When the sun finally set in the west, a vintage van turned up and an individual, formerly known as "Uncle Cracker" invited me to a game of horse shoe. We had a lot of fun, but to be honest - i still have a lot to learn about this game.
When we left the spot for a nightwalk over the L.A. aquaduct, we knew we where in for a good while of windy section through one of the biggest windparks of america - filled with 3400 (!) wind turbines. That's 710 megawatts or 950'000 hp. In your face coal industry!
Whatever, feeling the brutal change of weather in the last few days, i just would like to say: Climate change hooray.
Future angry supermodel
cruisin' up to tehachapi with a nurse trailangel :)
Don't let yourself get fooled by the title. I'm not at the world famous and current oldest car race, but i'm on the run like the drivers participating in that rallye. Today I cracked the 500 mile mark of the PCT since the start at the southern terminus un campo and proudly announce right here and now that i, for the first time in my life, walked such a stretch in one continuous journey. Congrats Mario!
Also mentionable: i pulled the first 27 miler (about 43 km) - which equals the official marathon stretch - on a superhot day. Accompagnied by a gazillion curious flies. That's a new record for yours truly.
But why did i do that? Because i can :)
I'd done the right thing.
When considering my original Plan B - return to Huntington beach and hunker down for the summer - then I'd done the right thing. That place has become synonymous for anti stay at home demonstrations and related gatherings. I don't miss such events and am quiet sunshiny out here in nature with little to no pandemic turbulence through politics and the news.
Trailangel Doug, who's also a non certified doctor (i guess), dropped me of at the trailhead - where i myself dropped directly into
Ice Age 3
That's right folks, the third installment. Little did I know back then, but I unwillingly agreed to the opportunity of hiking 35 more miles in snow and ice.
The day did what days do - it followed the suns call, as i stumbled down the slopes of a local ski resort. This was when I ran into Jill, a local nurse and avid snowboarder that hiked up the mountain to shred it to pieces together with her husband Frank. They where happy to finally meet a hiker and Jill offered to exchange shades, which didn't happen due to nostalgic reasons (The encounter between Reese Witherspoon and the snowboarderboys in the movie "Wild" doens't seem to be imaginary after all).
Later that day, i camped at vincent gap on highway 2 - just to get up the next morning around 5:30 to hike the upcoming mountain: Baden-Powell. The way up was, unlike people on trail reassured me, pretty easy and cold on top. Quickly i snapped some pictures of the pretty overcast view (not pictured below) and made my way along the crest back down on the other side. Between us: as well as any Zürcher (person from Zurich), I imagined the mountain to be larger than it has been.
Back down in another valley between 2 mountains i stood on highway 2 and hitched a ride with a skiing father and his son in law. There was a rumor of a bikerbar just 3 miles down the road which turned out to be at least 7 miles - and thus not walkable. None the less: the joint of course was closed. No beers. No burgers. No fun. The place had big BMW logos outside, a bunch of motorcycle enthusiasists, as well as car tuners showing of their engine compartments with the hood wide open.
I approached the two more innocent looking of them and introduced myself asking, if they eventually would ride up to the peak.
Welcome on stage: Robert
They both smiled at me and offered to leave at that very moment. One of them who goes by the name of Robert said "his BMW is more comfortable, but mine is faster." We slid into his white german whip sporting red leatherseats and off we went. We had a relaxed conversation and Robert showed a healthy interest in my current adventure about walking the PCT. He, a 30 something logistics guy at a truck company, is a car collector and hobbyracer whom happened to have crashed one of his cars on the raceway some weeks ago. That's why we sat in his new 450 horsepower rear wheel drive monster cruising up the mountainrange. He told me that he would tune it to the max asap and pointed towards the on board computer showing the temperature of each of his semi-slick tires individually. All while vaping on a Juul stick (an electronic cigarette), while i sat there full on pandemic mode in sunglasses, facemask, and gloves. I'm a thrillist - and Robert knew how to tickle this sensation seekers speed addiction. And off we went. Pedal to the metal. Just leaving dust and fumes behind us. Fast and furious. It's all family.
The next day was filled with another mountain and a night cowboy camping in a non-snow neighbourhood, and it kept getting drier! As i walked, pretty much out of food (again), we met 2 SoCal families sectionhiking. Big surprise: The one father Hank, a guy who ran the L.A. marathon barefeet because his shoes where in a suitcase under the bed where his girlfriend was sleeping, gave me a ton of candy AND a Toblerone chocolatebar. All you Swiss folks out there know what i'm talking about. A FREAKIN' TOBLERONE. IN THE CALIFORNIAN FOREST! I said my prayers and left happily ever after.
That very night was a crystal clear cowboy camping adventure on a mountaincrest filled with satellites and shooting stars.
This brings me back to the title of this entry. In the morning, I looked up the actual mileage conquered since the mexican border, and to my surprise found out: i've slept at mile 420, at april 20, 4.20. The time and date refer to smoking marijuana in the cannabis culture. Exactly one month after my start from the mexican border - and i even had some THC edibles that night. Well done Rastaman. Peace out :)
P.s. it's been 4/20 the entire month of april because of 2020 but we forgot that because of the fucking corona virus.
SNOW EQUALS FUN.
No one ever said that in the past few days. But it has it's charm. Only five minutes after leaving the hotel I found myself walking through a tunnel flooded with snowmelt. The coming days arguably would have adventorous potential, and they did. After a night above Cajon, this Cliffhanger finally got back into snow. Deep, white, wet snow. I'm loving it - over and over again. Funny enough: they call this section of the trail "the desert". It's probably a trick to weed out weekend warriors and partyhikers.
Me myself i also had to tone down a notch.
Who would have known it but due to minor injuries I've had to take a couple more zero days. Thus said, myself beeing an indian and ignoring pain seems not to be the best problem solving solution.
A great moment to reminisce.
What have I learned in the last couple of days:
- Try to listen to your body (he's your friend)
- To call rather then to search each other while resupplying at a supermarket (bigger is better, remember?)
- Get extra food
- Get more food
- Let nature dictate your pace (om shanti)
And last but not least: I've learned how to dig a hole (and how to bury a donkey).
Whoever came up with this sentence is a *poet.
The storm hit pretty soon after we left the last remaining snowfields for good. Hefty windgusts saluted me as i put up the ultralight tent which led to an immediate foodsplurge inside my shelter.
Sundance (kid) left early the next morning, followed by me. As i passed Sonic, he hooted and hollored about him following up soon. Anyways, let's cut to the chase: that day, the sky released H2o in all states of matter. Rain followed snow that turned into slush coated by clouds and fog. Then rain ensued. Again. Lots of it. I had the time of my life.
All by myself the fun dissolved after some 8 hours of non stop hiking and i really started to look forward to the upcoming campingground. Right then i've heard a "hey" out of an unknown direction and turned around by surprise. Had i been hallucinating? Wouldn't be the first time. But no sir, the voice came again: "not in the back, i'm in front of you." Out of nowhere appeared Snacks, a hiker we've bumped into before. She didn't like to cross the raging river down the valley all by herself so we did it together. When we reached camp ALL my clothes where soaking wet, but that's not a problem when there are hot springs to warm up. I had a good night's sleep. Naked. In my perfectly blue sleeping bag. A match in heaven.
The next day was mainly a copy of the last one. More (bigger) rivercrossings. More rain. More cold. More wind. Then i spotted a huge federal shed. The garagedoor seemed to be crushed by the wind. I sneaked over and as i peeked in saw the follwing: a lot of space. Dry. Clean. Safe. Abandoned. An open invitation to spend the night for this bandit!
The last few miles to Cajon Junction have been traveled fast. And then we arrived, in fastfood heaven. Mc Donalds, del Taco, Subway and a Chevron gas station for whiteclaws and beer. That's all what's needed to fix a hikers mood. We checked into the infamous Best Western Motel (two fancy stars) and ... plunged into our first two zero (mile) days filled with the products from the above mentioned brands, television and the occasional yogasession. And here we are, waiting the weather to pass, while the surrounding mountainrange becomes more white by the hour.
Go home rain, you're drunk!
*Also applies to the same named tune by Luke Combs.
I've got too much time on my hands so i think about the really BIG questions - the ones that make the world go round.
Movie of the day: Searching for Sugar Man
Song of the day: https://youtu.be/q7a97IYNQsw
... oh, baby, gonna get to you, girl, Step by step - Rock!
The last couple days (four to be exact) have been a fun little challenge. I've finaly ran on fumes since the last resupply happened at Idyllwild. I sled into a food shortage and my phone died due to excessive podcast usage.
After decending from San Jacinto mountainrange the desert welcomed me with ubercrazy windgusts - straight-into-your-face! Could this be the wind of change? It hurt my legs and i felt like i've got sandblasted. But hey, that's a free exfoliation treatment.
This boy has golden legs now. All new everything. Talking about legs - curtains up for crazy legs. I call them: legs 2.0. Don't get me wrong, those are not your average restless legs, they are pretty mellow, but when one switches them on, those guys shift into fifth gear. Serious business all day long. It's like your body sits in the drivers compartment while those jacked up stilts do all the work. These badboys WANT to walk. It's their natur.
Which brings certain unforseen things along. The increase in performance equals in an increase of hunger. All of a sudden i have to eat - ALL THE TIME! Like a combine harvester (a german saying that implies: to eat like a horse). This guy all of a sudden eats for five (guys). I'm the BIG MAC when it comes to burgers. SUPERSIZE ME. I dominate any pizza. Yo quiero taco bell. Oh, and del taco tambien. I'll take the tripple tripple animal style with onion and jalapènos plus freshly sliced fries as an entrée please. In-N-Out at it's best. This also applies to ones digestion. All you toilet paper hoarders out there: what is wrong with you? I'm out in the wild since about two weeks and still rock my swiss quality tp - that's how i roll.
Me and and my fellow buddy who's trailname is Sonic (because of his high speed walk-style) camped on a mountaintop with a spectacular view onto Palm Springs that night. No wind. No cold. The feel of feels. A hikers dream.
The next day has mostly been filled with uphillhiking, only interrupted by the occasional rivercrossing. Later in the evening, Sonic had the genious idea of doing a nightwalk along the northface of that one mountain, which led to a soulcrushing experience - and a 26-mile-day. We ended up around Big Bear, where we ran into a dayhiker who goes by the name of Jef. As we shared some jokes i called the local pizzajoint to order four family cartwheelpizzas to trail - and some quality beers - when Jef spontaniously invited us to stay overnight at his super sweet crib. I quickly rerouted my order to Jef's adress while we drove into town. It felt incredible comfy to sleep freshly showered on a couch in front of his fireplace. As we shopped tje very next morning at Vons all serious sporting our facemasks i remembered to get MORE food than expected to be needed. One thing: don't bring rice onto trail if you are as lazy as me - it's too complicated to prepare. Stay true to the basics.
As Jef dropped us of at the trailhead we snapped a gangpic and then waved goodbye to each other. We soon headed off in geberal direction nord knowing we'd needed to get into lower regions fast because of another upcoming snowstorm...
P.s. jef, if you reading this: you are a supergood trailangel - you just don't know it yet :)
This title pretty much sums up the last couple of days.
I put up the tent late 3 or 4 days ago and experienced first hand, that i'd probably be better off when planning ahead my water resupply strategy in the future. In short: i had none anymore. Meant: descend the mountainridge for a mile plus, get water and crawl back up. Well done Mario! I camped in a forest killed by the bushfires 2018 and when the wind calmed after dark, there was no sound. Aĺl quiet. Nothing! Dead land. I've obnly heard the beat of my heart and myself - inhale, exhale. The next morning has been the coldest since i started. The out- and inside of the tent have been frozen. Time to move.
Soon after we stepped into a multy-day *posthole fiesta which only got halted by a little detour to the postoffice in Idyllwild.
I took a left down the devils slide trail (gotta love the american street- and trailnames) and came across two styled cali girls. They wore belly free tanktop shirts and sported their fully inked arms while wearing... wait, what? - Vans sneakers in the same snowy conditions i just fought through with some heavy armor. But who cares, they where friendly and wanted to experience the outdoors. Thumbs up California.
With the retrieved and repacked food wrapped in the backpack i backtracked to the trail and headed out - again into posthole heaven. But i learned out of my flaws and got up super early the next very next morning in order to outsmart the weather and walk on hard icepack instead of slush. The plan worked - for approximately 1 hour. Followed by quiet some more of sliding, stumbling, postholing and falling.
But then, all of a sudden, there she was: the desert. And now, look at this lucky guy. I'm in my cozy sleeping bag, stargazing into the sky after an excuisit couscous dinner. Perfect! 5 stars for my home for tonight.
*(Postholing is a fun way to spend a winter hike. But one still tries to avoid it. So you step gingerly, always on your guard, anxiously anticipating the crunch and pop. You even try your best magic hoovertricks as you traverse. But inevitably, your luck runs out: Your boot punches through the top layer of snow and you plow through at lightspeed while lowering your attitude simultaniously. Welcome to postholecity.) __
I am agnostic.
I'm in my tent at an evelation of 5000 feet while typing these words - meantime there's heavy snowfall outside. The weatherreport couldn't have been wronger having a forecast of mild wind and a 0% probability for rain/snow.
The last couple of days have been a rollercoaster. After a relaxed night in mt. Laguna we've headed straight out north, into a rainstorm that knocked Chickenjohn off the ridge and destroyed his glasses. The plan was simple: hike to Warner Springs within 3 days. That's roughly 70 miles and a perfect excuse to bang out 23 miles a day. So long so good.
I started to develop a blister on my toe somewhere around day two and it became quiet a carnage since then. When i walked over a mountainrange and looked down onto interstate 78, the freedom of nature and the outdoors got hammered in my conciouss mind like never before. This is why Cowboys love the wild! The noise of an incoming textmessage sent me back to reality. Landon, the trailangel, was around scissors crossing. Soon after we met, and exchanged the latest news. He left me with a ton of food and yelled a farewell as he bolted of into the sunset.
The next day was pleasant while painfull. Little toe still hurt and i felt i wasn't ready to keep going on at such pace. We where all happy when eagle rock, an outpost of Warner Springs, appeared and took the mandatory pictures. ChickenJohns father appeared out of nowhere and gave us an unsuspected hitch to the gasstation in town. We bumped intimate ellbows and that also meant goodbye ChickenJohnfamily.
Armed with as much food as we could carry, we've retourned to the trail and set up tent for the night.
Today was pretty easy. The sun was shining all day long. A gentle breeze has been going on. The landscape changed since yesterday. Cows appear in cowboyland - as do black widows - and here i am. In the mountains again. It's 9 pm. It's hard to type for me. My fingers are almost frozen onto the smartphones screen. And, there's still heavy snowfall going on outside - while Brandon tries to cowboycamp under the night sky. A perfect moment to find Brandon a trailname. Ladies and gentlemen, curtains up for: ICEMAN.
P.s. i've abandoned social media for now. Also the "mainstream media". I feel that it doesn't serve me well out here.
It's probably time to be the bigger man and get of trail. Soon. I'm with a guy who goes by the name Chickenjohn. I plan my exit strategy. I'm miserable because of that. Who would have thought things get that crazy within 12 hours. Whisky tango over.
The song by the british band "the Clash" got stuck in my head yesterday morning and became the mantra for the day. The last 36 hours have been filled with a shitload of research, communication, evaluation and ten times the amount of questionmarks.
The extended news about the current situation involved a PCTA statement that asked people to postpone their hike. It got to me while Landon, an extraordinary trailangel, drove me from San Diego towards campo. Then social media exploded. All of a sudden everybody and his cat became an expert about the matter and knew exactly what had to be done. Vice versa: what we do out here osn't illegal.
Should i call this project off? For my safety and the safety of all people along the trail? I have been self quaranteening since my arrival at LAX 8 days ago. I took good care about myself. I don't show any mild symptoms. I am pretty sure i'm not infected.
The keep-on-going pro/contra list leans towards pro going. Mainly because i'm more safe out here than innercity - and going home would mean sharing over 2'000 peoples breath from out here until back home some 40'000 kilometers away. Oh right, there is no home until fall - besides other things missing.
But, just in case, i wanted to hear the opinion of some real experts. I grabbed the phone and talked to a doctor, a journalist and some local californian friends. When i hung up Landon and me engaged in a discussion where we agreed walking the trail would be safe enough - as long as there is food (i brought 3 extradays worth of food with me) and no martial law / government shutdown has taken place.
Right then we turned of the road and up to the southern terminus, the NOBO PCT startingpoint. Landon reassured me all would be good until Warner Springs (thanks Julian) and then we took the mandatory pictures. I signed the book and saw at least 20 hikernames before mine that day.
As i turned around and started to walk "North Of Society",the dark clouds over my head began to vanish and let the sun through. Step by step my heart got lighter. Soon i encountered two more hikers and tagged along for a while with them, only to put up our tents a couple of miles later.
My first dinner out of a ziplock bag was underwhelming and the night was colder than expected, but i woke up to the sunrise in high spirits and was a happy little goofball.
Fast forward 10 hours: I'm currently in my tent and try to warm up my feet in the sleeping bag while typing these words - and - i am curious what tomorrow holds for me. Shoes are all wet from a rivercrossing and it will be below freezing tonight.
Last thoughts about me still walking the trail
The trail is still open as of today and the national forest service hasn't taken any action closing it. Don't get me wrong: i don't take the current worldcrisis lightly and operate under the highest security measurements. All the hikers i've met so far execute social distancing. We don't shake hands or hug. We don't share food. We keep our resupplies to a minimum. I've got a facemask which i wear when i head into a grocery store or take out restaurant - and, last but not least - the store owners need us in order to stay in business (source: facebook).
I get it if you don't agree with me. Sitting at home bored to death makes it seem rediculous to be out here and possibly risk someones life. If things worsen i'll leave the trail and selfshelter somewhere in no time. But until then, HYOH (Hike Your Own Hike).
Got another opinion or arguments? Drop me a line - or call me maybe?
Stay healthy people!
Thank you. Thank you for having me in those troubled times, no matter where i've traveled to before, beeing excellent hosts, supplying delicious dishes, cold beers, offering shelter and throwing little lockdown fiestas.
What i've learned from you so far: where to get toiletpaper, the best donuts in town, how to get kicked out of a shooting range, how to weld (fluxweld) and to let go of my ego while jamming after midnight so far.
I look forward to future adventures with all of you. Let the good times roll!
I like big data. A lot. That's why i like "Data is beautiful" on reddit, today with content like this by u/Edward-EFHIII: https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/fj7535/oc_covid19_spread_from_january_23_through_march/