A typical day

Maybe you have wondered now and then how our days actually are like. We hike, obviousely, but apart from that? And how is it to walk all day long, day after day? There are many different ways to do it, of course, but here’s our version: I’ll take you along a typical day in our hiker-live!

Usually, we wake up around 5.30 to 6 am. In the Sierra it was different: To take advantage of the frozen snow we started our days in the dark at 3.30 or 4 am, shivering as we changed into our hiking clothes and got up to dig the tentstakes out of the ice with our ice-axes. We used to take breakfast in the tent as that was warmer and the last thing we wanted to do was to start hiking up snowy slopes without having eaten something. Now, we usually get ready without shivering (though sometimes it’s still hard to leave the warm and cosy sleepingbag) and in daylight (in some campspots we see wonderful sunrises). We pack our gear while eating a handful of trailmix and get ready to hike.

Andy is still sleepy๐Ÿ˜‰

Then, we set off, walking a few miles before breakfast. This is probably my favourite part of the day. Everything is peaceful, the air is clear and fresh, the light beautiful and our legs rested and strong.

For breakfast, we try to find a nice spot. I especially like places with a good view! I love to sip my coffee looking over the hills and forests… With the coffe, we usually have oatmeal. (I can literally hear my family laughing at this point as that’s not exactely my favourite food at home!๐Ÿ˜‰ On the trail it works great, though…) There are some practical little packages with different flavours we mix with plain oats for more quantity and less intense taste.

Imagine looking at this while having breakfast!

Andy enjoying his coffee…

After breakfast, we hike on. We walk, walk, walk, stop for a sip of water, walk, walk, walk, stop for a toilet-break, walk, stop to eat a bar and sit down a little, water, walk, walk… We walk a lot!๐Ÿ˜‰

A quick stop to filter water…

What a choice! Which bar should I try now?

Sometimes, we hike silently, each thinking his own thoughts. It’s amazing how much comes into your mind while walking through forests, deserts and over mountains. There are thoughts about our lives (Why exactely did I think it was a good idea to hike the pct?๐Ÿ˜‰), about home (I wonder what my parents are doing right now? I miss my family and friends!) and the future (Should I change something? Maybe open a bar in the Carribean?๐Ÿ˜‰), as well as more present thoughts about our surroundings (Wow, what an amazing view!) or topics concerning us (Ouch, my knees!๐Ÿ˜‰). Then again, we chat and laugh. Even after more than four month together in the wild, we always have something to discuss. Sometimes, we teach each other Spanish and Swissgerman. And there is of course that weird phenomenon of the songs, or rather, bits and pieces of songs that come to mind, stay there and repeat like in a broken tape… After a whole morning of “hakuna matata” you’re really ready for a change of tune, trust me!๐Ÿ˜‰

Between noon and 1 pm, we get hungry and ready for lunch, lately always somewhere in the shade as it is quite hot. Lunch is the trickiest meal for me in terms of what to eat. Unlike Andy who could happily survive on oats, tortilla with salami and couscous during six month, I get really sick of certain things if I eat them too often. So while the typ of lunch basically stays the same – tortilla with a certain filling (cheese, sausage, abocado etc.) and trailmix or crushed chips – we try to get different ingredients every time. We even try to bring fresh food like cherry tomatoes, avocado or baby carrots – a heavy luxury, but soooooo good! In the Sierra we couldn’t do that, it would simply have been too heavy, and if it’s very hot it also doesn’t work too well, but otherwise it’s quite surprising how long these vegetables keep fresh.

Not sure I’d eat that in my “normal” life…๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s obviouse what we do after lunch, isn’t it? A siesta, of course! We didn’t do that at the beginning of our hike (we still had a lot to learn๐Ÿ˜‰) and neither did we nap in the Sierra (snow doesn’t make for a very nice ground to sleep on), but now I wouldn’t miss it anymore!

Then, of course, we have to hike on! It’s a bit like in the morning, just with less fresh legs… Now and then, we meet other hikers – thru-hikers like us, section-hikers or dayhikers; there are many people now out here enjoying the wilderness. With some, we have chats, something I always enjoy a lot!

In the later afternoon, there usually comes a point when I’m a little fed up with walking and just want to stop (Vincent would say that he’s bored with the trail in these moments๐Ÿ˜‰). It doesn’t so much depend on the miles already walked but rather on the time of the day, I noticed. We can’t stop early every day, though, so I just have to keep going. Lately, I started to listen to podcasts (TED-talks at the moment) or music in order to not focus too much on the feeling of being tired. This helps a lot and I also learn new things…

If we have to do many miles – for example because there is no campspot for a while, we have to reach a postoffice during the opening hours, etc. – we might have dinner on the trail and afterwards hike on a little with new energy. Mostly, though, we try to reach our campsite first (especially in mosquito-country).

There, we pitch our tent, which takes us much less time now than in the beginning of our journey, and arange all our things in there.

It takes us barely 10 minutes to pitch the tent, inflate our sleepingpads and arrange all our gear in the tent…

If possible (if there is water or I had enough capacity to carry some, which is mostly the case now), I have a “bottle-shower” to clean up a little. Maybe it’s more for the mind than it actually makes me cleaner, but I just feel much better after… Especially the feet and legs get super dirty with all the dust on the trail! If it’s cold and rainy or the mosquitoes are really bad, I try to clean up a little with wet wipes. And if we’re lucky enough to find a campspot next to a lake, I go for a swim, of course!๐Ÿ˜‰

That’s still rather clean, really! It gets much worse…

The washingmachines aren’t up to cleaning our dirty socks anymore – so we pre-wash them in the sink. This is the water after the fifth rinse!

Swimming here was absolutely amazing (despite of the mosquitoes)!

Once clean(ish), we change into our merino baselayers. Having a “pyjama” is important in cold temperatures because it’s warm and dry and helps you to keep warm (it actually makes a big difference, we tested that at home!), but I also like it here in the warmth simply because it’s a little cleaner than my sweaty hiker clothes…

Then, it’s time to cook dinner. Carrying a stove and pot, we usually prepare something warm. Pasta and couscous with different flavours and sometimes cheese or olive oil added are always good and easy to carry and cook. And an all-time-favourite are ramen-noudles. We started adding peanutbutter and have developed a serious addiction for this truly American thing now…๐Ÿ˜‰

Ramen noudles, mmmh! Andy wears his bugnet to be protected from the mosquitoes…

On the trail, they call 9 pm “hiker midnight”. That’s because we hikers go to bed rather early (hiking all day long makes you reeeeeeally tired๐Ÿ˜‰)… So often, we don’t stay up late to watch the stars as I thought we would before starting the pct! As the weather is mostly very good lately, we don’t put the rainfly on our tent so when we wake up in the middle of the night we can enjoy the amazing nightsky! It’s such a great feeling being cosy in your sleepingbag watching the beauty above! I’ll certainly miss that a lot when we’ll sleep indoors again…

So that’s it, a typical day! It feels so normal now – when I’m tired I don’t long for a real bed but can’t wait to climb into my fluffy sleepingbag, and the tent feels like home. I enjoy the towns, but am always more than happy to be back on trail and live the simple life I just described…

Hello Oregon!

Goodbye, California! It was great hiking through your mountains, desert and forest! I’ll never forget all the beauty we met, both in nature and in people with their kindness! But now, we’re ready for something new. Hello, Oregon!

California made leaving not exactely easy. Climbing out of Seiad Valley was not a pleasant experience. True, it was maybe not such a good idea to leave Seiad Valley at 11 am and climb that exposed mountain in 35ยฐ C… Also, it was really stupid to miss the spring and have to go back half a mile because we really, really needed the water… If you don’t sweat enough in a sauna, I suggest trying that climb๐Ÿ˜‰

We did it, though, and the next day, we reach Oregon! Juhui! What a feeling!

I’m still in California…๐Ÿ˜‰

We think we’ll reach Ashland the day after. But we are wrong. Kind of. After walking our first miles in Oregon and through fields of flowers higher than we are, we meet three day hikers which whom we start to chat a little. One of them, Dick, thru-hiked the pct 40 years ago! It’s very interesting to talk to him…. He offers us a ride to town after we’ve reached the trailhead in the valley. We gladly accept. When we meet again, Dick tells us that he’d host us but can’t tonight because his kids and grandchildren are coming, but we can stay at his neighbour’s house! Wow! They live in Medford, a town next to Ashland, so that’s why we don’t make it to Ashland that day.

The first thing Jane, Dick’s neighbour, does when she sees us, is giving us a big welcome-hug (despite of my warnings that we’re dirty and smelly). She is full of energy and optimism, in her presence you can’t help feeling good. A shower and a swim in her swimmingpool make us feel even better (my legs love the pool) and a glass of wine and some cheese combined with a chat with Jane and Dick (our stomaches and minds love it) revive us even more. We go out for dinner with Jane and Dick and it’s a very funny evening! Thank you so much for everything!

As Jane goes hiking the next morning, Dick and his wife Jeanie invite us for breakfast with their family. It’s a great morning and we enjoy it a lot! Thank you so much for treating us like family and letting us eat all the blueberries! We couldn’t have felt more welcomed!

After the pleasure comes the work, right? Or did I mix something up here?๐Ÿ˜‰ We’re ready to do the work, though, after such a good time! Dick brings us to Ashland where we have a lot to do: Not only do we need to resupply but also prepare resupply-packages for the next sections of trail (there are just little stores in the next stops with limited options) and send them, so also pay a visit to the UPS-store and later the postoffice for bouncing our parcels there.

And then, I get a new packpack! My old one which I was very happy with has a ripped part in the mesh on the back. This results in quite painful pressure on my back and hips. Because I can’t send it to the manufacurer for repairs, they generousely offered me to replace the pack! Wow!

Shiny and new – hiking is easy with a pack like that๐Ÿ˜„

When we are finally done with all the homework, we meet Vincent! We’ve lost each other around Burney Falls and although we’ve never been more than a few miles apart, we couldn’t catch him or he us (he stopped in Etna which we passed by, so we were first behind and then ahead). We’ve missed him and are super happy to see him again! While treating ourselves to a huge icecream we catch up on each others adventures and then are ready to hit the trail again and discover the rest of Oregon!

The Highlights and lower moments of Northern California

We’re still walking. Walking through northern California. Some people think it’s boring here but I’m not of that opinion. It’s true, though, that the landscape is less dramatic now and we’re mostly hiking in the forest where we can’t see our progres so well. So for a change I won’t do my usual report about what happens to us but instead tell you some of the good and bad things about hiking here in northern California.

Belden & Co.:

There were a few places along our journey in northern California that helped us recharge our batteries in a special way: “Belden & Co.”

Both a highlight and (literally) a low point, we reached the town of Belden after a hellish descent (our knees hated us for this). It’s little, there is not much more than a little resort with store, but what a reward for our struggles to get there! Sitting on the terrass in the shade enjoying a slight breeze and one of the best burgers on the trail, we felt like in another world (like normal tourists๐Ÿ˜‰).

Another stop like this was the cute Sierra City I mentioned in my last post. And then there was Burney Falls. The falls were very impressive, but that was not everything: We spontaneousely decided to treat ourselves with a night in a cabin there. When the cabin host learned about our recent engagement she was so happy for us and gave us a bottle of good wine to celebrate! And a little later, our neighbours, Tom and Julie with their family, invited us to their Korean barbecue! We had so much fun and were humbled by so much kindness!

I always forget to take pics of the people we meet – but at least I can show you Burney Falls…

Einstein and the king:

We saw a bear!!! Finally! We called him Einstein because he looked not like the most intelligent being…๐Ÿ˜‰ Also, we spotted a very rare snake, a king’s snake! And there was a cute baby-owl in the forest a few days later! And deer, many, many deer! I was so happy after all these encounters!

The forest:

Now that it’s summer and hot, it’s very agreeable to walk in the shady woods. And another benefit: The trail is often very soft which helps our feet and knees…

Great trail!

The heat:

This looks a little bit like in the desert, doesn’t it? It certainly felt that way! There was no shade and no water on the infamous hat creek rim, and it was brutally hot! We wanted to go through as fast as possible and hiked 28 miles that day, despite of the heat…

The lakes and the rivers:

What could feel better after a hot, exhausting hike than jumping into the water? I do it as often as I get the chance – with all my clothes on๐Ÿ˜‰

That felt soooooooo good๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„

Mosquitoes:

Where there is water, there are mosquitoes… And not only there! They seem to have learned that there is fresh blood every night at campsites, so when you arrive tiredly the attack you in full force. Quite hard on the nerves! Also, there is that insect that is able to produce a sound like a dentist’s drill. It doesn’t sting, but… I’m sure you get my point!

Miles and blisters:

I mentioned in my last post that we need to increase our daily miles to reach Canada. We suceeded, and it’s a great feeling that we can do it, but it’s also hard. And our feet pay the price: Suddenly, I have blisters again (because of the constantly wet feet in the Sierra I lost almost all the calluses I got in the desert…). And my tendons don’t like our hike either. Neither do Andy’s knees. We try to take care of everything, stretch a lot and patch up all the sore spots – it’s a bit annoying… Getting new shoes – my third pair – helped my poor feet a lot, though!

My new shoes next to Andy’s old ones!

Volcanic activity:

After hiking for weeks through the snowy Sierra Nevada, we have reached another mountain range: The Cascades. They are made out of volcanic rocks, and there is a lot of volcanic activity going on. Especially in Lassen National Park we could see this – there was steam coming out of the ground, there was a boiling lake and a lava tunnel to visit. All very impressive! And of course Mt Lassen, the first big volcano in a chain of volcanoes we’ll see on our hike north.

Mt Shasta:

After Mt Lassen, there is Mt Shasta, the second of the big volcanoes. We’ve mixed feelings towards it. It dominates the horizon for days as we make our way towards and then around it in a biiiiig loop towards the west. Super impressive, it towers high over the other mountains – we called it Mt. Fuji because of the similarities. But it also makes it look like we don’t do any progres at all…

Flowers:

Awesome flowers! Do I need to say more? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hikers:

Unlike in the Sierra where there were not many other people, we met many hikers here. It’s always great to chat a little and learn about other people’s adventures. With some, we got on really well and hiked along a little… It certainly made our journey more interesting!

Enjoying a fire and s’mores with Bunny and Hannah๐Ÿ˜Š

The Alpes:

No, we didn’t stop hiking the pct and went home – there are alpes here, the Trinity Alpes. They even look a little like their namesakes – we got awesome views again! The trail also resembled a path in the real alpes, it was mostly steep… And when we hiked down to our last Californian town, Seiad Valley, I felt a little bit like walking in “Kรผsnachter Tobel”…๐Ÿ˜‰

Milestones:

There were quite a few milestones in northern California. We reached 1200, 1300, 1400, 1500 and 1600 miles as well as 2000 and 2500 km. And the halfway point! Wow! From there on, every step brings us closer to the Canadian border than we are to the Mexican one!

We are in Seiad Valley now and it’s less than 50 trail-miles to the border with Oregon (so probably 15 miles as the crow flies๐Ÿ˜‰)! We’re very excited about reaching that milestone!