Epilogue

It’s been more than three month since we celebrated at the border. We’re back home, in “normal” life. We’ve gone through quite a process since seeing the monument, and it seems like a good time to write down my thoughts about it.

Welcome to Canada!

After having crossed the border, we had to hike on to Manning Park, a resort next to a road and the first “civilisation” in Canada. There was no difference to hiking on the American side, we were still on a little path in the forest. It was totally surreal, I knew we were done, yet it felt like we’d hike on further and further north like before, as if nothing had changed. I felt empty somehow, and I realised I hadn’t had a moment for myself at the border to really think about what happened and what it meant to me. So I fell back a little behind Andy and our friend Polkadots with whom we were hiking at that moment to catch up on it. The trail led to a dirt road we then followed. It was there I saw this little sign attached to a tree that read “km 4”. Kilometers, not miles. We were not in the US anymore, and that was the moment it really hit home, when I realised for real what we had achieved.

In Manning Park, we had lunch with Polkadots and Mayhem (who had been at the border with us) and we cheered with hot chocolate – something a little weird, fitting the whole wonderful and weird pct-experience. Then, we hitchhiked to Vancouver, and although it was a bit more difficult that hitching into a trailtown, thanks to three friendly people, we made it that same evening.

Hitchhiking with a little help…

Arriving in Vancouver was a shock – all those lights, people and the noise! And nowhere to pitch our tent, instead a tricky search (at 10 pm) for accomodation. But we also managed this challenge, and when I woke up the next day and heard the rain softly beating on the roof while I was laying in a soft, warm and dry bed, it felt like the best thing every!

We started to do our usual tasks of laundry and drying gear. Yet there was no resupply to do. So on one side it felt like a normal stop on our hike, like we would continue the next day, yet at the same time we had to remind ourselves that we wouldn’t. Our bodies at least were not unhappy about that…๐Ÿ˜‰ And to be honest, neither were we – the last weeks had been hard, and we were ready to be done.

I had been looking forward to being in Vancouver for a long time, I’d heard it was a great city. But my plans of seeing a lot of it failed: It seemed that even if we somehow were still struggling to accept it, at least the unconscious parts of our brains and our bodies had realized very well that we were done hiking, and so they shouted “relaxing, finally!”, and shut the system down. We were totally exhausted! So we did relax, met pct-friends for a brunch, spent a whole day in a cafe writing postcards to the trailangels who had helped us on our journey, and looked at the big cruise-ships leaving and arriving.

…or at those planes…

I felt like an alien in the city. When we entered a shopping mall to buy postcards, I felt a strong urge to run out screaming after 30 seconds, so uncomfortable was I in this unnatural space together with so many people, noise and lights. After six month in the wild, it also struck me that in a city you can see your reflection everywhere – I became aware for the first time of our appearance, how different from other people we looked in our (although for once clean๐Ÿ˜‰) hiker-trash clothes. On the trail, appearance hadn’t mattered at all, but here, seeing ourselves everywhere, it suddenly started to be not so unimportant anymore… It seemed we had to enter “normal” life again, much faster than we felt like doing it.

The pct seemed to be so far away already, but we were thinking and talking a lot about it, about how it had influenced us, what we wanted to change back home. We felt clearly that we wanted a simple life, to slow down, to give (even) less importance to material things and possesion…

And we were looking forward to going home. It was great to see our families and friends again! My parents, my brother and my best friend came extra to the airport to fetch us – what a wonderful surprise! I was so happy!

During the first weeks after our return, we were very busy and quite euphoric, meeting people, starting to work again (we had both been on unpaid leave), getting our flat back etc. Quite fast, though, it was business as usual again. Nobody talked about the pct anymore, while we were still often thinking about it. I missed being outside, feeling the wind and seeing the little changes in nature. I missed the simplicity of our life out there and felt quite overwhelmed even in a little city like Zurich. Sitting again all day long in the office was hard, I couldn’t focus the whole day long anymore (something I hadn’t had problems with at all before) and felt like I couldn’t get enough air. The days passed so fast, unlike when we were outside, where I somehow lived much more intensely. It was as if I didn’t quite fit anymore in my life as I had left it.

We had given ourselves three month to figure out if we wanted to change major things (like for example our jobs, our flat, our way of living). This proved to be very good because it lifted the pressure of changing something immediately on “bad” days. It left us time to think, to talk and to adapt. Initially, we didn’t go back to all our former hobbies and activities, because we already had gone back to our old flat and work and felt that we wanted at least a little difference to how it had been before, and also because we wanted more time. Slowly, we took up a few things again. Andy went running and playing football, for example, while I started to dance again (I had missed that a lot), deciding to try a new style – flamenco (it’s super cool!).

As time passed, I felt less like an alien (though I still have my moments๐Ÿ˜‰). Andy and I had long chats, and I think now we see a little clearer how to continue and what our priorities are. We will start our next big adventure, getting married, and then – I’m sure this won’t be our last adventure…๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜‰

CANADA!!!๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„

Spoiler alert! We made it!!!

But let me tell the story from where I left it, at Snoqualmie pass. As I mentioned it’s only 260 miles to the border from there, so you’d think we’d do that without effort, right? But the pct didn’t let us go easily. The last days were hard.

Seen along the way – it seems we’re not the only ones feeling this way…๐Ÿ˜‰ It made me laugh and thus helped a lot!

Climbing up into the mountains from Snoqualmie pass, the clouds start to cover first the valleys and then the sky – quite impressive, but also scary: According to the weather forecast it’s suppose to be cold and rainy for days now.

We’re still over the “sea of clouds” – but not for long…

And unfortunately, this is correct. The Northern Cascades are apparentely very beautiful, but we don’t see much of them. Most of the time, they are covered by big, dark clouds and fog. Not seeing the views makes our hike once again mentally very tough – it feels so pointless to climb up and down while being soaking wet and cold without seeing anything but wet trees. Hiking feels more like a chore and I often can’t enjoy the moment anymore. This is not what I want this hike to be – but I have to remind myself that in an adventure there are not only good but also bad times and that this is ok.

Despite of the weather we also have good moments. There is a great sunny day after hiking out of Stevens pass and there are a few hours here and there when the clouds drift apart and the sun shines through a little. Then we can enjoy spectacular scenery! After all, they call these mountains “the Alpes of the West”. It often reminds me of home… And even in the rain there are not only bad moments…

Just wow!๐Ÿ˜„

Wet trees…๐Ÿ˜‰ But giant and therefore very impressive ones!

More wet trees…๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s like a jungle – really cool!

A colourful highlight in the rain!

Although the bridge is broken, we can still cross without getting wet feet! We’re very lucky!

There is a lot of wildlife, too. It’s always interesting and fun to spot animals and watch them for a little. There are the omnipresent but still very funny chipmunks. Probably I only still think they are cute because we are lucky and never get chewed through tents, backpacks and foodbags… As we’re in alpine mountains again, there are marmots, too. And for the first time, we see pikas! Ever since learning about their existence in the Sierra Nevada I wanted to see one of these little rodents that look like a mixture between a mouse and a rabbit and live high up in the rocks. In the Sierra there was just too much snow and they hadn’t really gotten out yet, but now, they are everywhere! I try to imitate their calls which always confuses them a little – they are so cute when they sit on a rock looking around for the source of the weird noise…๐Ÿ˜‰

This pictures was not taken by me – but I just have to show you how cute they are๐Ÿ˜„

Our good karma with meeting great people on and off trail continues, too. After an especially rainy, depressing day we run into four Russian-American section-hikers and spend a funny evening with them. On Stevens pass we meet Charlie. He not only takes us to town (although I look quite scary that day as a wasp stung me next to my eye which is swollen shut as a consequence๐Ÿ˜‰) but also spontaneousely invites us to stay that night with him and his friend Emilia! Thank you so much again, it was an unforgettable evening!

And we meet many pct-hikers, some we haven’t seen for month! One of them is Second Chance whom we last saw after climbing Mt Baden Powell! Thanks to the kindness of him and his girlfriend, we not only can dry our wet gear before starting on our last section of the pct, but also have a very nice dinner and a fun time!

And last but not least, after all our frustrations with USPS, in Stehekin, our last town, I finally get the package with my new shoes! My old ones have carried me incredible 1100 miles (normally, shoes should be changed after around 600 miles) and are literally falling apart by now which led to a lot of pain and problems with my feet. Putting on brandnew shoes makes me feel like walking over clouds and my feet instantly start to recover!

Some milestones – we have come a long way… No wonder my feet hurt!

Giant cinnamon rolls for Cinnamon in the famous bakery in Stehekin where every hiker stops… A last treat before going back on trail to hike the remaining 80 miles.

Because we know now that we’ve got enough time to make it to the border, we start to slow down a little. What’s the point in rushing to the border, dragging ourselves out of our tents in the dark and rain only to arrive one day earlier? Pushing less makes our hike more agreeable and the weather more bearable and we start to enjoy ourselves again…

Andy, motivated on the last stretch… It helps that the sun shines that afternoon ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yeah, I can do it!๐Ÿ˜‰

As we get closer and closer to our destination, I unconsciousely start to say goodbye to the trail. I have so many memories of different parts of our hike as I relieve it in a way to be able to let go. I think of home way more often than before. And in a way, the – mostly still rainy – weather helps, because I want to finish now that we’re wet and cold and can’t see so much of the scenery…

As a goodbye-present, the pct gives us a little bit of everything – rain and even snow, but also blue sky and views! And even the clouds can be spectacular!

And then, we wake up on the final morning after another rainy night, only six miles from the border. We pack our soaked tent and get ready to go to Canada. I have to think of our first day on trail, how excited I was, how new everything felt. And now, I’m somehow excited again, although it seems completely surreal that the pct, who always stretched out before us, should suddenly end. The last miles don’t look different from what the trail looked like these last days and hiking feels so natural – unthinkable that it should stop in less than two hours…

Somewhere along the last mile…

A few switchbacks, and then we’re suddenly there – the monument, as I’ve seen it in many pictures, life in front of me. I cry, I can’t help it. Happiness, pride, relief, accomplishment, sadness, I feel it all at the same time. And then we jump and laugh, still not quite believing that we’re actually here, that we really, really made it! We’ve hiked from Mexico to Canada!! And it has been an absolutely awesome adventure!

Autumn is coming!

During the second or third week of our hike, in a particularly long and tough uphill section (at least that was what it seemed to be back then, I’ve got the suspicion that we wouldn’t think that now…๐Ÿ˜‰), Andy started saying “A Washington, ratita, a Washington!” in different Spanish dialects. It was meant to distract me from the climb by making me laugh, and it worked. Not only did it sound very funny, it also seemed so absurd that we were on a path that would lead to a place so far away. Soon, it became a running gag for us that kept us going. But now, seemingly suddenly, we’re almost there – only the Columbia River separates us from Washington! It feels totally surreal!

But before we can set foot into our third and last state, we have some homework to do. The pct in Washington is quite remote and the trail “towns” often have little or no resupply options. We therefore decide to buy all the food for Washington here in Oregon and to ship packages ahead. Doing this huge resupply, repackaging and sending requires a lot of time and energy. It’s logistically quite complicated and stressful. When we finally have shipped the last box after more than a day of work, we are both exhausted.

All our food for Washington! Amongst all the dinners, lunches and breakfasts around 200 energy bars!

A quick lunch, and we are ready to enter Washington. To reach it, we have to walk over the famous Bridge of the Gods, a milestone for thru-hikers. This huge bridge crosses the majestic Columbia River. I didn’t expect it, but the experience is very emotional. While I walk and try not to loose my balance in the strong wind, I can’t stop thinking “We really reached Washington, we really did it!”. Of course I wanted to make it, but somehow it has always felt unrealistic, too far away to be possible that we could walk there. And now, as we’re here, it slowly starts to sink in what a huge distance we’ve walked – and that we actually have chances to make it to Canada!

The Bridge of the Gods!

Walking over the Columbia River – it’s a bit scary to look down!

We’re in Washington!!

But to reach Canada, we have to cross Washington. In my euphoric state, that seems easy now, but Andy is more cautious and says “We still have a long way to go.” We don’t know it yet, but he is very right, it will be long and hard…

For now, we climb out of the valley of the Columbia River. Washington is much steeper than “flat” Oregon, lush and green. We hike through the forest, constantly up and down. It’s warm, hot even, and we sweat a lot in the humid climate as we cross ridge after ridge.

Green, green forest…

Like we’ve done for a long time now, we don’t put the fly over the tent at night to enjoy the stars and cooler temperatures. The first night, this goes well, but during the second night, I wake up at 2 am, hearing a strange noise. It takes full three seconds and a few drops on my face to make me realise what’s going on. Rain! In a blink, I’m wide awake and on my feet, shaking Andy awake to help me put the tentfly into place. Thankfully, we’re very fast now with that, so we manage to keep our gear and especially our sleepingbags dry!

It’s still warm the next day, but it doesn’t stop raining and slowly, the temperature drops and it gets chilly. Mushrooms start to appear and we notice many plants with ripe berries and sometimes already colourful leaves. There is no doubt now that autumn is coming!

That one is huge!

I’m amazed how diverse all these mushrooms are!

Autumn leaves and berries – so beautiful!

We’re quite happy to get one last summer evening in Trout lake, a little town that seems to be full of amazing trailangels. We have dinner inclusively blueberry-milkshakes outside with Logic and other pct-hikers, enjoying the still warmish evening…

In Trout lake, we also get very sad news: Just three days ago, a thru-hiker was killed by a falling tree. It was not even windy, he was just very, very unlucky and in the wrong place at the wrong time. We cross the place of the accident the next day – the tree is still laying across the bridge where it happened. Although we haven’t known him (we later learn that we met him briefly and chatted a little, which somehow makes us feeling worse), it troubles us both deeply. It reminds us in a brutal way that nothing is granted and everything can be over in an instant. It’s so important to live the moment! We have a long and deep conversation that helps a little. But for days after, Andy doesn’t feel safe in the forest anymore while I fight attacks of panik that someone I love could be ripped out of my life in such a way – a big fear I thought I had under control but that has come back now.

We are so very sorry and wish his family and friends a lot of strenght and courage in this sad time!

Over the next days, being on the trail becomes mentally very hard. We really want to enjoy the moment – especially after having had the brutal reminder how important that is – but at the same time we feel the pressure of the miles we have to hike each day to make it to Canada on time. It doesn’t feel like we want it to be anymore. I think we’ve walked enough now and it starts to be too much. Yes, it’s freedom, being in nature and doing something we chose, but too much of something good is still too much. After being more and more grumpy, we finally realise what is going on and have a long talk about it which makes us feel a little better.

Meeting friendly and kind people like here in the “rainbow cafe” also helps a lot! Thank you so much for the awesome trailmagic!

Meanwhile, the trail surprises us again. We hike into the beautiful goat rocks and get through the spectacular and feared knife’s edge (it is not so scary as some wanted us to believe), an area we both really enjoy! We camp by a beautiful lake where we hear elks roar eeriely and I take my last swim on trail. We enjoy a spectacular sunset in the forest and finally reach Snoqualmie pass.

View of Mt Adams, a volcano we walked around, from goat rocks.

The last time we have to walk over snow is actually in Washington! I almost can’t believe it!

The knife’s edge with glacier peak in the background!

There, we have a good and fun dinner with other hikers which lifts our spirits. In the hiker box, we find a pair of trail-runners. Ever since not getting my new shoes I sent to White pass (I don’t like to speak ill of something, but with USPS we really have had many bad experiences), I’ve seen my old ones fall apart more and more with growing unease, worrying that my shoes might not make it and leave me somewhere in the wild with no shoes. Taking the (although too big) trail-runners eases my mind, at least I have a back-up now… And then, we realise that from here, it’s only 260 miles to Canada. In other words, we’ve only got one tenth of the pct left! Canada, we’re coming!

Goodbye Oregon!

Compared to the four month it took us to hike through California, we cross Oregon in nothing – just over three weeks it takes us! Of course, this state is much smaller than its southern neighbour, we’re trained now and instead of a huge obstacle that makes it senseless to hurry (we’d have been in the Sierra too early), we now have Canada getting closer, drawing all northbounders north like a magnet. But the main reason why we suddenly advance much faster is the trail itself: Some call it “flat”. This is not true, of course. After all, we’re still on the pct, and the pct goes up and down and up and down… But I’ll say that in Oregon the trail is relatively flat. It’s very well graded and soft under our feet because we’re almost always walking in the forest.

I love all the green around us! The trees have beards and there are many huckelberry bushes. And chipmunks, lots of them! They are so cute when they interrupt their running around to eat, something that happens every few seconds.

The chipmunks are so fast that I couldn’t get a picture. The trees are more patient…

Also, there are many surprises in the forest, like cool lava fields (Andy, whose shoes have gone through more than 800 miles, can feel every pebble and gets a little grumpy while crossing the lava) or – bad weather. For the first time since entering the Sierra Nevada, we get rain and the temperature drops drastically. It shows us that our summer gear is not up to several days of wet, cold weather – it’s actually good, because it makes us realise which additional gear we have to get for Washington… And luckily, the rain stops in the morning of the second day and we can dry all our wet gear.

The sky is already gray…

Vincent, trying to move the cabin we have lunch at to stay dry…๐Ÿ˜‰

The forest and all its plants also look beautiful in the rain!

A very wet milestone๐Ÿ˜‰

The sun appears just in time for us, because that evening, we reach crater lake. I’ve heard a lot about this place and am very curious to see it! Because we want to really enjoy it with enough time, we decide to not climb up to the lake that night but camp in the campground in Mazama village – with around twenty other pct-hikers… With more than half of them, we spend a very funny evening in the restaurant near the campsite!

When we finally reach crater lake the next morning, I immediately understand why so many people think this is a special place. There is some magic about this big, completely still lake in the huge crater that is left after Mt Mazama blew up a few thousend years ago. Stunned, we stop to contemplate it – despite of the noise of the road and the numerous tourists around, the lake somehow keeps its mysterious and majestic atmosphere… Hiking the rim-trail around the crater, we don’t advance very fast because we stop again and again to admire the view and take pictures.

North of crater lake, the pct passes through a landscape of gentle hills covered in forest and dotted with lakes. It’s lovely and I enjoy the swimming a lot!

The water is almost as calm as in crater lake!

One of the most beautiful campsites of the whole trail!

The “little”crater lake…

We pass huge, impressive volcanoes and soon reach the three sisters – three snowcovered volcanoes close to each other. The scenery there is awesome, one of my favourite on the trail! We get out of the forest for a little and pass through the obsidian area where the late afternoon sun makes all the shiny rocks sparkle… And at sunset, we cross a big lava field. In the last rays of sunlight the rocks become intensely red and their weird shapes against the setting sun are spectacular!

The South Sister and the Middle Sister.

Sparkling obsidian…

The lava – getting red…

…very red!

And then the sun sets…

We’re very glad we could see part of the lava like this because there are more lava streams to cross that unlike the first one are a little annoying and not half as beautiful. Luckily, we do a resupply stop before and Andy can buy new shoes.

Andy’s feet feel so much better now!

After the lava fields, we enter a big burn area. The two days it takes us to cross the rest of the lava and all that burnt forest are not my favourite parts. (I know we’re very spoilt on the pct as far as scenery goes…) We also get another rainy day, but as we reach Ollalie lake resort that evening where we can get a hot chocolate, it’s not too bad…๐Ÿ˜‰

We walk faster now to reach the famous Timberline lodge on the slopes of Mt Hood. The outside of this big hotel appears in the movie “The shining”, but that’s not the reason why it’s known amongst thru-hikers. For us it’s famous because of its great all-you-can-eat breakfast-buffet! We reach it in the evening and decide to go and have dinner there as well. Just in time before it closes we can order some pizza in the bar where there are a few other thru-hikers. We have a lot of fun together, and just as we’re about to leave, something really cool happens!

Two hotel guests give us the code for the hot tub/sauna area. Strictly speaking, it’s only for hotel guests, but the temptation is too big – we can’t resist. Taking a shower and soaking in the hot tub feels absolutely amazing and we stay until I start to feel faint… Deeply relaxed, we fall into our sleepingbags that night, dreaming about the upcoming buffet. The pct never fails to surprise us!

Mt Hood, the last big volcano and the only step climb in Oregon. The thought of the breakfast makes us fly up, though…

Timberline lodge…

The big expectations we had for the buffet are not disappointed! And the best is that there are many pct-hikers, some of which we haven’t seen for month! I’m so happy when unexpectedly Mustard (we met after Sonora pass, she’s Swiss like me and we got along very well immediately – she was a glimpse of home for me and it felt soooo good to talk swissgerman for a little…) and her friend Goodiebag show up! It’s great to catch up and hear how they are and how the trail has been for them. We also meet Polkadots, Logic, Gilligan and many others. What a great and in a nice way weird community we are!๐Ÿ˜„

When we finally roll out of Timberline lodge, we realise that we are only 50 miles away from Cascade Locks, the last town in Oregon just at the border to Washington. Excited we realise we’ll be there two days later! Unexpected trailmagic stops us, though (if you thought that after emptying a huge breakfast-buffet we couldn’t eat more, you were wrong๐Ÿ˜‰), we have a lot of fun with the amazing trailangel and some hikers we’ve just met in Timberline lodge.

Due to bad planning respectively not looking well enough we end up in a campspot where there is only space for two people who like each other very much. Very much – our tent doesn’t fit! So for the first time, we cowboy camp. It’s an interesting experience, and we both sleep better than expected, although somehow, the tent makes me subconsciously feel safer and rest better… Who’d have thought that we’d learn to cowboy camp on our last night in Oregon…๐Ÿ˜‰

Through the cold and wet weather we get the next day we walk fast to keep warm and reach Cascade Locks. We haven’t hiked as far as we wanted to the day before. With the motivating thought of sleeping in a bed tonight, though, we fly and try to do our biggest milage so far, 32 miles (~ 51km). We meet Mustard and Goodiebag again and decide to share a room, so we push on together. Just as we start to get really tired, we see the huge Columbia River down in the valley. This gives us energy for the last miles, and in the evening we reach Cascade Locks, the end of Oregon and the door to Washington!

This is not a lake, it’s the Columbia River!

We laugh and hug each other and celebrate this milestone with many others in a brewery just next to the water. Watching the sky turn colourful and then dark, enjoying the magical atmosphere, we feel like we’ve accomplished something big, and we talk long into the night and get to know each other better… The last 500 miles are before us, and for the first time I think that we can really, really reach Canada!

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!

A new chapter

The author of the guidebook I mentioned in my last post writes that there is “quite a high retirement rate amongst thru-hikers” at Sonora pass. He suspects this is because of the mosquitoes. Mosquitoes! Ha! More like super steep slopes, snow and suncups without end and raging rivers! (I get it that the mosquitoes can be pretty bad in years with less snow, but honestly, there were moments I’d gladly have taken them instead of the snow…) We’re not quitting, anyways, now that there is a chance it gets easier!

And indeed the trail becomes easier now, the terrain is a bit more gentle and although there are still moments of frustration when we loose the path under the snow and in the process of finding it again have to bushwack our way up steep slopes, there is clearly less snow now. Instead, there are flowers! Sometimes we walk through whole fields of them. I enjoy that a lot!๐Ÿ˜„

Great landscapes that look different from the granite in the High Sierra and only a little bit of snow left… We’re very happy๐Ÿ˜‰

Dirt-trail!!! Juhui๐Ÿ˜„

I can post pictures of flowers again๐Ÿ˜‰

There is trailmagic, too, quite a lot of it. Wow! Getting fresh fruit, cinnamon rolls and a glass of milk are sooooo welcome!๐Ÿ˜„ The beer and especially the great chat with trailangel Kathy are very nice, too, despite of the fact that my balance is impaired afterwards and I decide not to drink alcohol, however little it is, before hiking again…๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you so much, Chipmunk, Kathy, the man from Sonora pass resupply and the nice ladys from Carson pass!

For the first time since the desert, we see dayhikers. Many of them. Especially on the weekend of July 4th when many people want to enjoy nature. For us, this turns out to be great: We decide not to go into South Lake Tahoe on Saturday evening as everything might be booked and rooms will be very expensive. Instead, we plan to camp close to the trailhead and hitch into town the next morning. Chatting with two dayhikers, we mention this and they agree this is a good plan. A bit later, though, we meet them again and one of them, Debbie, comes straight to us saying “Do you want to camp in our garden and have barbecue with us tonight?” We’re super surprised and of course very happy to accept this invitation! It’s a great evening with awesome people๐Ÿ˜„ Especially for me it’s a very special encounter as our host (who is a lawyer as I am) impresses me a lot with her great personality – I hope someday I’ll be a little like her…

Our stay in South Lake Tahoe is a bit stressful as we have a lot to do: In addition to the usual laundry/showers/resupply we have to go to the postoffice to get our bouncing box, ship the wintergear ahead to Washington and ship a package with food to Sierra City (our next resupply stop) as there is little choice there. Also, we do many calls, now that we finally have (good) reception again and I can update my blog… Luckily, we still have time to enjoy the town a bit, but I wish it were more. This is the downside of having a goal to reach, as it sometimes leaves not much leisure for doing other things we spontaneousely want to. Not that we only do miles and run all the time, we enjoy our days a lot, but if we stop for too long, we won’t make it – it’s a difficult balance sometimes…

Time for a new shirt… It’s waiting in South Lake Tahoe ๐Ÿ˜‰

We hike on and pass several very beautiful lakes. The mountains are not as high now and it is warm, hot even: It’s finally summer! It reminds me of Switzerland here and I get a little homesick. It’s funny, suddenly my thoughts go much more in direction home than before. In the desert we just came from there and I was excited with everything I saw, home seemed far away. Later in the Sierra I had to focus much more on the path and the obstacles, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. But now, after more than three month away and in a landscape looking like it, I frequently think about home, and I miss my family and my friends…

Lake Aloha…

The last frozen lake๐Ÿ˜‰

We’ve completed 40% of the trail now, but not in 40% of the time, rather in 60%. In order to reach Canada before a) our visa runs out, b) we have to be back at work and c) the weather becomes nasty, we need to do more miles per day now. And without snow, this is actually realistic! We also get an entirely different motivation in this specific section: We need to reach Sierra City before the postoffice closes at noon on Saturday. So we try to walk farther, and it works! We’re a little tired from the effort, but it goes much better than expected…

Along the way…

View of Lake Tahoe…

On the day before reaching Sierra City, we even manage to do our first marathon hike! It’s my first marathon, and I’m quite proud!๐Ÿ˜„ We are a bit exhausted at the end of that day – so when we find the campsite we planed to stop at completely full, I’m not very happy… Luckily, we find something shortly after. The only problem there is that it’s super mosquitoe-infested. While Andy fetches water, I cook wearing my raingear and the ridiculus bugnet over my head – because there are at least 50 mosquitoes buzzing around my head, sawing at my nerves! Better to eat inside the tent that evening…

When we reach the highway that leads to Sierra City the next day, we’re a little tired. On the way into town I loose one of the little animals I carried all the way with me – they were a gift from my mum and we wanted to do a story with the fotos I took with them along the trail. I’m very sad! Unfortunately, I can’t do much and have to accept that the trail sometimes takes things away from us…

I still have the little rabbit…

I arrive in Sierra City a little depressed and don’t expect much from that place (the term “city” is misleading in that case and I haven’t heard many nice reports about that village). But then, we are very pleasantly surprised when we find a cute little town with many flowers and friendly people! We get our resupply-package in time, have a relaxed breakfast to celebrate the milage of yesterday and later a shower (there are public ones)… There is a museum about goldmining and we spontaneousely take part in a guided tour that turns out to be very interesting! In short, we enjoy our stay a lot! Sierra City really gives us back some energy and the motivation we need to continue and have fun while doing so!

The old school in Sierra City – I think it looks like in a movie๐Ÿ˜‰

Yosemite National Park

Arriving in Yosemite Valley is a bit of a shock: There are soooooo many people there! We’re a bit overwhelmed, especially as finding a spot to camp turns out to be difficult. We’re so accustomed now to be able to pitch our tent anywhere we like (our pct-permit allowes us to do that along the pct) that having a lot of rules and prohibited things is weird… Thanks to a hint of some other pct-hikers we meet, we find a spot at last and immediately fall asleep.

Traffic jam on the way in! We’re not accustomed to that anymore…

For me, Yosemite Valley means relaxed days while enjoying the stunning scenery. It’s great to only go for walks (without backpack), bath in the rivers (the icy water in the Sierra made us quite tough), read and enjoy pizza!๐Ÿ˜‰

Chrigi climbing El Capitan free solo๐Ÿ˜‰

Chrigi decides to leave us and the pct at this point and do some hikes on his own during the week he has left in California. I’m sad to say good-bye and it feels weird to hike on without Chrigi… He’ll have many cool adventures coming on, though, so I’m also excited for him!

On our way back to the pct, we stop to see the Tuloumne sequoia groove. These ancient, huge trees that tower over us impress me very much!

During the hour that the road is open, no car stops for us. When two Swedish girls finally do, the road has already closed and we have to turn back. What now? Going all the way back to Yosemite Valley as the rangers tell us to do is out of the question as we wouldn’t make it back in time and we don’t have a place to sleep there anymore, having already outstayed our welcome. So we just hide in the forest, camping there without leaving a trace, of course…

When we try again to catch a ride, we are more lucky. A friendly couple takes us all the way back to Tuloumne meadows where we start walking again.

According to the guidebook Andy gave me for my last birthday, the upcoming section through Yosemite National Park is “the most demanding of the pct”, there are many dangerous river-crossing and steep slopes to traverse, making it “very difficult if not impossible to hike under snowpack”. That’s why I’m a bit anxious about the coming days..

After a few miles, we come to the first river-crossing. There is a bridge, which was apparentely flooded by the high water two weeks ago. What a great surprise it is then for us when we find the waterlevel lower and the bridge above it! The water must have been at least two meters higher!

Imagine that bridge overflown by water and you have to cross the river!

All the rivers we have to cross in the next few days are lower than they were, maximum waist-heigh. This is of course great news for us! We get other, despite of the warning in the guidebook unexpected challenges, though: There are a few very sketchy downhills (“the hill of doom reloaded” – Andy gets to his limits in these and lets out his frustration by hitting the snow with his trekking poles) and frustrating navigation and bushwacking through seemingly neverending mounds of snow in the forest (“the labyrinth of desperation reloaded” – “We’ve done twice the distance and ten times the altitude!” Vincent says tiredly when we camp that evening).

Snowcups – very annoying to walk over!

Postholing in the snow – it doesn’t help…

There are not only hard moments, though, but also good ones (although this section certainly is a tough one). We see many animals, especially deer (still no bears, though!) and the scenery is once again simply fantastic!

One of many awesome views!

In Dorothy lake pass, we should see a “dramatic change” of scenery, the guidebook announces. And indeed that’s the case: The High Sierra with it’s Granite mountains abruptely changes into mountains of volcanic rock which have a very different form and colour. I’m super impressed, as I have never seen such a brutal change! It makes me feel as if we’ve come to an end of something and at the same time a new beginning, a bit like when we approached Kennedy Meadows. It also looks like there is less snow now… This gives me new energy and motivation, even more when we reach mile 1’000!

Still a lot of snow, but the mountains look different…

Juhui๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„

Over the snowfree trail we advance faster and even the snowy parts are less sketchy than I feared. We safely make it to Sonora pass, the end of this tough section. For the first time in weeks, we get unexpected trailmagic there, and we meet old friends we haven’t seen since day one! We’re tired and a bit bruised, but otherwise happy and – most importantly – alive!๐Ÿ˜‰

Up, down, up up up๐Ÿ˜„

By this, I’m not refering to the trail (that would be up down up down up down… repeated so many times that we’ll have climbed Mt Everest 17 times in the end – from sea level!). I’m hinting at my mood.

I’m very happy to come into town and the first half day we spend there is great! We find accomodation and can take a looooong shower after which we feel way better and don’t look completely homeless anymore. This impression is aided by our reshly washed cloth and really nice dinner…

But then, I somehow start feeling not well, dizzy and exhausted. In addition, I worry about our next section where there are apparentely many dangerous river-crossings (especially with all the snowmelt we have now). We have to organize many things, though, so I’m walking around all day. When I finally run into problems in the postoffice – my new shoes, that should replace my old ones that are full of holes, somehow are not there though the tracking says they are – it’s the last straw. The postmaster unfortunately is not very helpful (my first negative experience in an American postoffice so far) and it all becomes to much. I return to our motel and there, have a little “breakdown”. The last days of hiking brought me to my limits, I lost a lot of weight and – at least it feels like this – all my energy and motivation. It all becomes to much and I don’t know anymore what to do. I don’t want to continue, yet I don’t want to stop, either. Later, I get fever – in short, I feel really aweful…

The next morning, I’m a little better. It helps me a lot to talk to Andy (who is very supportive) and my mum, who reminds me that nobody will do a trail like the pct without reaching their limits in one way or another… So in the evening, we’re all ready to start the next section. We decided to go to Yosemite Valley, which isn’t part of the pct but a little sidetrip. From there, we’ll do the section with the sketchy rivers. Like this, we don’t have to carry so much food and can take our time with the rivers – really searching for good crossing options instead of forcing our way through in dangerous parts.

My old shoes and my new ones I bought in Mammoth Lakes after not receiving the ones I ordered…

After camping at the trailhead, we start early the next day back over Mammoth pass to rejoin the pct. Almost at the top, there is a beautiful, not frozen lake. I mention to Andy that this is one of my favourite lakes so far. He replies “Ok, I’m going to do something “loquito”!”

A little confused, I follow him to the still snowy shore, to a point where we’re not sure if we’re still standing on land or already on the water. For a crazy second, I wonder if Andy wants to go for a swim with the little duck that is paddling around close to here. But no, he says he has a surprise for me. Aha, I think! It’s our third anniversary and now I guess he has something little for me to celebrate that. But I’m wrong again!

Instead, he takes my hand and goes to one knee, asking in a little shaky voice “Princesa, quieres casarte conmigo?” I’m so overwhelmed as emotions wash over me, I fall to both my knees, laughing and crying at the same time, hugging him and wispering “yes!”

Just after๐Ÿ˜‰

We’re both incredibly happy and everything seems to be a bit more beautiful than usual, the colours a bit brighter and the sun shinier. The pct soon becomes snowfree and we float along it, taking in everything, enjoying the beauty of the moments. To make the day even better, we do a little bit of “sightseeing”: We take short sidetrails to visit Rainbow falls (there really is a rainbow!) and the Devil’s postpiles, an impressive rockformation. It feels great to do these little sidetrips just because we like t. After all, we’re on the pct to enjoy and not only to “do miles”.

The next day brings us into the snow again as we hike past thousend-island lake and cross over Island pass. Lucky as we are, we find dry campspots just below Donohue pass although there is snow everywhere. There is also a hole in the snowcover over one of the creeks flowing here. Very practical as lije this we don’t have to melt snow! The water is deep and so clear that Vincent and I both can’t resist: We have a bath! A very quick one, I stay around 5 seconds… Chrigi comments: “I don’t understand, you must be really desperate!” Or crazy…๐Ÿ˜‰

Donohue pass is the last of the “high” passes of the Sierra (more than 11’000 feet). We cross it without problems the next morning on frozen snow and then descend into beautiful Lyell canyon. All the snow has melted there and it is green with a big river slowly flowing through. There are deer and marmots and the trail is easy. To us, it seems like paradise!

Along the “trail” over the pass..

Because we can advance very fast here, we reach Toloumne meadows and the highway there at exactely the right time. A southbound jmt-hiker confirmed the rumours we heard: The highway has finally opened, even if only for two hours a day! This saves us from a long and tiring hike to Yosemite Valley as we can hitch-hike… What a good end to this section of the trail!