Earlier in the year Anders and I where writing back and forth looking for the right trailrace to participate in together.
He came up with 100 Miles of Istria which was held for the first time this year.
Since I knew Istria only from going on vacation with my parents as a child, it sounded really appealing to get to know the mountain areas spreading through the country.
So I picked up Anders and Gerald who signed up for the 100 miles distance and off we went. After spending a day at our apartment we drove down to Koromacno to pick up the bib numbers. Gerald was starting the 100 miles at 9 p.m. that day so he stayed at the finish area to catch the transfer bus to the start in Umag later. We enjoyed the nice warm weather down at the sea and later we looked for the trail which runs down from the mountains close to the finish. Later, Anders and I where driving back to the apartment, preparing for the race the next morning by looking at maps and profiles.
As always the night before the race felt like catching no sleep at all. My alarm clock woke us up at 3:20 a.m. since we had to catch the transfer bus leaving close to 5. Bus ride was kind of horrible with lots of construction work on the way to Buzet. I felt tired and somehow not too excited. We met Gerald who decided to quit here after 60km.
In Buzet around 120 runners gathered at the starting line. At 7 the race was on. Anders and I worked together from the first minute and found our pace really quick. Walking uphill, covering ground on the flats and descends. We reminded each other on not going too fast in the beginning because it is going to be a long day anyway. The terrain in the first half was already technical but ok to run in most parts. We got wonderful views along the way and where really excited to run together. Since Anders and I have not met since the end of the PCT two years ago, we had enough to talk so the time went by fast.
After 10 hours I was still wondering why there has not been a low point yet. Later in, we where thinking about a 16 hour finish time, since most of the long climbs are behind. Before we descended down to the Checkpoint at km 68, a runner from Slovenia told us we are around 10th position. This was very motivating because I had no idea where in the field we are.
What we did not expect was, that the terrain closer to the coast was getting much worse than in the beginning. Very hard to run on, especially with tired legs. A fall here would mean a serious injury. I crashed my toe into a rock once which felt like I twisted the nail of the toe. But I did not stop to look for it. Between Rabac and Labin the trail got very steep, they installed cables to make the way down possible. We had to climb over a waterfall to reach a checkpoint. A beautiful place but at this stage I was too tired to get out the camera for pictures. I really had to focus on every step I took. At the climb to Labin I felt really really tired. I knew that this point will come and I knew also how to go through and feel better again.
At the checkpoint in Labin I changed my socks again and fueled up for the last 20 km. We turned on our headlamps and off we where into the night. Twice we had to retrace our steps because we could not find the waymarkers anymore. We where ready to finish and kept pushing downhill, wondering when we will get to the dirt road which we knew from inspecting the trail the day before. After that dirtroad, we came down to the paved road, which lead us the last km into the finish in Koromacno. After close to 18 hours on our feet we where more than happy to be done and finishing 10th place overall. All in all, it was a great day and I am really happy about staying save and healthy along the way without having too many problems with fatigue or lack of motivation. The experience running through the mountains of Istria is something I dont want to miss. We endured.
Great organization and enthusiastic volunteers too!
All Information you need for a 2600 mile long PCT thruhike on five websites:
http://www.pcta.org/ – Official website of the “pacific crest trail association”, get your permits here
http://www.planyourhike.com/ The title says it all, resupply points, strategys,…
http://www.pcthandbook.com/ The one and only “Yogi´s PCT guidebook”, it will become your bible out there
http://www.pctmap.net/ Halfmile´s maps, very useful and all you need beside Yogi´s guidebook
http://www.postholer.com/ Meet fellow hikers, good maps and planning resources
http://topomapsapp.com/ GPS application for your iPhone/Pod, works with Halfmile´s waypoints.
Every once in a while I get a phone call from Alex. Last time he planned a 12 hours non-stop hiking trip around some woods in Vienna. This time it was about time to go for a skiing trip with the intention to sleep in a snow cave on the Rax-Plateau near Scheibwaldhöhe. Since I wanted to try that anyway he had not to wait long till I confirmed to go with him and Norbert.
We chose to follow the route through Kesselgraben which had not enough snow to use the Skies for the first kilometer or so. Later with some altitude gain we had enough to use our skies for the way up through the woods. Already excited about the snow cave I collected some dead-wood for a small campfire later. After the first 1000 meter in ascent we came above treeline where the snowfall got heavier, the fog thicker, combined with strong wind chills. Norbert who had a cold the days before was a little bit slower on the climb up so Alex and I had to keep our speed down which was hard because I already felt my hands and feet freezing and I knew I have to keep moving. But we had to stop every once in a while because in the dense fog Norbert would be lost. I clenched my fists in the gloves to keep the warmth, which was not the best way to walk with the poles. At one point I finally dropped my pack to go for my heavier skiing gloves.From Scheibwaldhöhe we had to walk against the wind which felt like my brain is going to freeze. At this point I already had my down jacket (ok, a very thin one) with the hood on my head. I just hoped that we will find the snowdrift which Alex planned to build the snow cave at fast. But this did not happen. Alex searched the area for a bit and finally found another spot. He used the snowprobe to make sure the snow is deep and soft enough to bury the shelter. After about an hour of working we had to give up because some buried ice made it impossible to dig further. We Used the snowprobe again, this time more carefully. Norbert said it never gets finished before dark, which means we need about 6 hours to build the cave.We worked in shifts, one digging in the entrance tunnel and the other two moving away the snow from the inside. After the first shift Alex came out completely wet from the dampness inside and we could watch his pants freeze solid in the wind. As Norbert promised it got dark already, we continued the work with headlamps. From this point I knew there will be no campfire going on tonight. The snowfall outside got really heavy and everyone was happy to be inside the cave where there was no wind and decent temperatures. I did not bring a stove so I used hot water from the Thermos bottle to rehydrated my meal. Alex brought a modified gas stove which was not working very well at the beginning. Somehow he managed to melt enough snow for Norberts and his meal. The night was ok, I actually had to remove some layers because the duo-quilt-system worked more than well.
In the next morning our entrance was completely snowed in so I had to use a shovel to move outside. Over night it snowed about 50 cm, still strong winds, still no view because of the fog. Alex found the route quickly and for my part I was happy to lose elevation and go back to the treeline where the wind stopped. On the way down my hands became alive again which was a weird feeling. Snowcaves are nice but for myself I would not built one again in such an exposed place.
Another trip with Sven and Reinhard ascending the Fadensteig. We started early to see the sunrise above treeline, but had no luck with it. It just got light around six but no sun. We got some heavy winds instead, most of the snow on the way up was gone and bare ice was left behind.On the way down we where happy to find some snowdrifts which made the skiing really enjoyable.
As you can see there has not been much going on here lately, most of my writing energy floats into my bookproject with the workingtitle “From Desert Floors To Mountain Tops” which hopefully will be ready in autumn of 2013. The hours I dont spend writing in front of the screen are mostly filled with running and skiing. I brought some pictures from the last ski mountaineering trip up the Nandlgrad on Schneeberg together with Sven. Hope you like them!
In-between all the rain and summer thunderstorms here in the Austrian mountains I was happy to catch this small window of dry weather. So I wanted to cover as much distance I could, at for me a still enjoyable level, by converting 5 stages on the “Schladminger Höhenweg” into 2 stages.
Those mountains are different from most other mountains in Austria, first there is a lot of water. Streams and high alpine lakes embedded in a natural green cover until the peak of Hochgolling which reaches over 2800 meters. While hiking south, towards Giglachsee you can see the Kalkspitze for hours getting closer and closer. There is this gigantic view of the Dachstein glacier on the other side of the valley. On a sunny day there are many hikers on those mountain trails, which is obvious in the summer season with all the huts opened and easy accessible trailheads. I am going back in october when the huts are closed and thunderstorms should not be an issue.
1. Day: Talstation Hochwurzen-Giglach Höhenweg-Giglachsee-Krukeckscharte-Trockenbrotscharte-Landwirseehütte
2. Day: Landawirseehütte-Gollingscharte-Hochgolling (2862m)-Gollingwinkel-Greifenberg(2618m)-Klafferkessel-Parkplatz Riesachfälle
It was supposed to be the hottest day in June, temperatures where reaching +38°C at 9 am the temps at 2000m elevation where allready +20°C
I knew It is going to be hard.I knew the fact that I can handle the cold much better than the heat. So here I was in a pack of 120 other runners at this small village Veitsch. I made two mistakes in the first half of the race, I started way too far in front and the second was I did ran the first 18km also on the uphill.
After 21km the trail started to climb the steepest 600m of the whole course to the top of hohe Veitsch. I was really tired on the climb and felt that my right calf is going to cramp at any second. At this time I could not wear my running shirt anymore because I felt like it is keeping the heat to much at my body. My head was aching so I made my own ac wrapping the shirt around my head and soak it in water at every possibility. Worked great for my head but not for my back as the sunscreen was washed away from sweat and water long ago. At one of the checkpoints they had magnesium tablets which helped against my cramping leg. After 30km I was close to quit the race. I just was not there. My body felt not too bad but my head was saying no. I met my parents at this aid station, I sat down and spoke to them. Everybody around me suffered. Even the people who where not running. 24km left. I took my fresh filled bottle and made my way downhill knowing the hardest part is behind. The heat of midday was unbearable. I literally just moved one leg in front of the other thinking about the next step following the trail over hilly terrain. The last 5km where all downhill through a forest with the last kilometer into the village and the finish line on paved road. I was never so tired my entire life but still happy about the finish.
I started running in February 2010 and never run a typical marathon distance except a half marathon (21km) after 2 months of training. Then I found out, that running in the woods and mountains is so much more enjoyable and fun than on paved roads. In 2010 I hiked 8 days from Port d´Andratx to Pollenca. On April 28th 2012 I ran the distance of 107km with a positive 4500m gain in elevation in 18h:46min. Both where great but different experiences.
It is 23:58. I am one out of 500 runners who are waiting lined up at the start area for the clock to jump on 00:00.
They start to play “Carmina Burana”. I know something great is going to happen. I focus on my breath, click on my headlamp, the two minutes are over and the field rolls out of the village of Port d´Andratx. I try to make my strides as small and low as possible, to keep the impact on my body low. The paved road comes to an end, I follow the pack into a small dirt road. The lights around me are so bright that I switch mine completely off. I found a group of 3 who are about my pace. I know that I should not get out of breath in the first hours during the race. The road is going steeper and steeper. One of the group is slowing down. I dont understand what he was saying because it was spanish but I think he told his friends to slow down aswell because this is going to be a long race. So did I. We started to climb while turning into walking. I notice hundrets of lights around me, red blinking back lights and the beams of strong white headlamps winding up the mountain. A strong feeling surroundet me, I knew it was right to face this challange. I arrived at the top of the hill, eager to make some good effort on the downhill. The first two hours went by and I was not far away from the first aid station. There was some paved road into the village of Estellences. The guys at the checkpoint wrote down our bib numbers and showed the way into the garage which was the aid station. It was hot and humid in there. I took of my pack, refilled my bladder, had two cups of coke, half an orange and took a banana out for the upcomming section. Other runners where sitting around and taping their feet or stretching out. I was just feeling to continue as fast as possible. The field stretched out more and more and there was no one around anymore. The trail climbed and went down again, with flat stretches inbetween. The hours went by I was very confident with running through the dark from one checkpoint to the other. It was allready more than 5 hours in when I reached the town of Valdemossa. The day began to brake in, this was the first time I could recognize the scenery I allready hiked through a few years ago. I knew, up the next mountain there will be a beautiful ridge waiting and I will arrive on top just right at sunrise. I talked to some french runners on the uphill. The only people I talked to during the race. They where joking around and saying something like “this race starts at Kilometer 70″ which I believed in but I did not care because all I wanted is to cross that finish line. So I arrived at that ridge hiking fast the switchbacks up before. I spoted the long shadows of other runners stretching over the pale gray bolder fields above tree level. To the left there was just the see below a 300 meter vertical cliff drop. I knew I am not far away from the 55k mark and the halfwaypoint of the trail. There was a big downhill waiting into the village of Deja. The trail got really steep and technical winding down the mountain into beautiful olive groves and through overgrown areas covered with long blades of grass. At the checkpoint in Deja I sat down for the first time. I brought some spare socks and now over halfway the time has come to change them. The once I whore where completely soaked. I refueled by eating some big blocks of cheese and white bread. Took some oranges and bananas and off I went again. The heat of the day arrived, I was happy about some cooling winds on the exposed areas. On the way to Soller a really fast runner overtook me at the downhill. I thought going downhill at these speeds after 60km requires some serious skills. Later I found out that it was the leader of the shorter competition which started at 8am in Valdemossa.He has serious skills. I arrived in Soller during midday. It was really hot. At the aid station I just took some fruits and refilled my bladder. I could not eat the meals the had there because my appetite for cooked food was just not there. There was this big climb waiting up the canyon towards Cuber Basin. I went really slow but steady up the trail which was combinded with large stairs. More runners from the shorter distance overtook me. I ate the food I carried from the beginning on my way up. Such as Energygels, Bars and PB ride shots. I brought way too much food but I did not want to leave it behind. Up the canyon my feet where really heavy. I had to force myself into running again. Mentally I felt still very good. I knew I could do it. I was just tired and slightly dizzy from the heat. At the last Aid station in Lluc I opened that Gatorade Strip I brought last year from the States. Mixed it with cold wather and enjoyed the taste. From Lluc there where just 17km left to the finish. I knew I could do those in about 2 hours reaching the finish under my personal goal of 20 hours. The last downhill really took forever. My legs where tired and I had to be really focused not to stumble over these rocks and roots. The last 7km where flat paved road combined with some trail just a little below the road. Cars where blowing their horns from time to time cheering us. High fives where given from other runners. I just wanted to get it done. My legs felt good on the easy trail and I just ran as fast as I could these last kilometers and across that finish line. After 18h:46min I finished in 119th position out of about 300 finishers. On the next day my legs felt good and I could not wait to enter the breakfast buffet at the hotel.
My strategy to finish:
-Something I learned from long distance hiking. Split the course into small chunks. In that case running from one aid station to the other.
-Taking just small rests
Since September 2011 I never run further than 25km. I was never going further than 80km a week. More like 40-60km.
On all my trainig runns I gained 600 or more meters of elevation up and downhill.
Nathan HPL 020 Backpack + 2xMLD Hipbelt Pockets
Petzl MYO RXP Headlamp
Red backlight (road bike)
Oakley Jawbone Glases
Haglöfs Tempo SS T-Shirt
Black Diamond Gloves
Falke RU4 Socks (carried 2 pairs, changed after 55k)
Dirty Girl Gaiters
Brooks Cascadia 6
Black Diamond Z-Pole Ultra Distance
Anti Friction Stick
This year was quite special to me, I changed many things in my life. I quit the job I worked in for 6 years, to go on this hike from border to border, after that I moved from the city of Vienna back to the countryside not too far away from my parents place to the bottom of lower Austria´s highest mountain. Those changes did not happen because I was unhappy or not satisfied with the way I used to live. It just seemed right to follow some dreams and try something new. Currently I am about to go back to work and get the “normal life” going again. In between thinking about the PCT still keeps my busy, there is not a single day since I am back where I am not thinking about it.Somehow it feels like the end of a relationship, something is missing. Planning new hikes and spending more time with non outdoor related activities should help.
Enough about the past, 2012 is coming and I am allready excited about it. In April I will attend my first Ultra Trail race on Mallorca and there are more races on my mind. I will go on a hike, a shorter one, somewhere in Lapland. I have never been there before and I think I will like it far up north.
Thinking of some changes on this blog, there might be a new name (or a name at all) and a change of the design. Also I want to get rid of those ads, so I might move it to wordpress.org.
I am amused and sometimes even embarrassed about most/lately discussions in UL backpacking, there are people who think they have to make a science out of it. I was never one of them and I never will be one of them. UL means simplicity for me and I keep it simple also in 2012.
Happy new year and best wishes for 2012!
a guest article by Jake “Don´t Panic” Down
“Cooking” without cooking
With experimentation we have found a way to retain the weight savings of dehydrated food in a no-cook manner. Many freeze-dried foods and other fast cooking foods can be reconstituted by soaking in cold water. Instant mashed potatoes, instant rice and couscous are the easiest starches to “cook” with the no-cook method. Although instant noodles like cup o’ noodle or Ramen will work, the texture ends up being unappetizing and we have found that we were not able to enjoy them for long. With a starch making the bulk of the meal, adding a legume or other protein source can improve the flavor and the filling power of the meal. Our most common forms are: dehydrated refried beans, instant split pea soup, instant black bean soup, a foil pack of tuna or chicken for meat eaters or vegetarian dehydrated chili.
Keeping the flavors fresh is one of the most challenging parts of no-cook cooking. Having a full arsenal of spices helps. Among other things, we have used chili powder, curry powder, cajun spices, paprika, garlic powder, powdered milk, taco season, nutritional yeast, ramen flavor packets, chicken/beef/veggie bullion, hot sauce (Sriracha is our favorite), salsa packets, sweet and sour sauce, and soy sauce. Adding any type of oil will improve the flavor for most people. Olive oil is most commonly used among hikers, although different oils will provide different health benefits or flavors. One could try sunflower oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, or grape seed oil.
Since everything is rehydrated in cold water, the textures of most of the dishes end up very similar. There are also ways to add a little crunch and flavor complexity to the meal. Crumbling up a chip or cracker into a meal right before eating can provide a much need variety. Corn chips come in an amazing number of variations, from plain Fritos to Doritos in flavors such as “Nacho Cheese”, “Cool Ranch”, and “Jalapeno Fire”. There are even more different choices of crackers. A little bit of creativity can turn up even more options: Corn Nuts, almonds or other nuts, pretzels, or even cold cereal (preferably unsweetened).
The actual process of putting the meal together is simple. We each use an empty peanut butter jar to soak our food. We combine water with the ingredient that will take longest to reconstitute at our last break before dinner and let it soak as we hike. When we stop, we add any additional ingredients, top the jar with water, give it a shake and let it sit for a minute or two and it’s ready to eat. Cleanup is a breeze too. All we do is put a little water in the container give it a shake and dump it out (in higher use areas we drink the water to lower our impact).
The only part that is a little tricky is figuring out how long each item needs to soak. With most ingredients, there is no way to soak them too long and to find out the minimum amount of time needed is just a mater of trial and error. We prefer 45-60 minutes for rice or couscous, 30 minutes or more for beans, and just a couple of minutes for mashed potatoes. We add any crunchy thing to our meal as we eat it to ensure that they don’t become soggy.
A Sample No-Cook Menu
I ate a very regular diet on this hike. We put together resupply boxes before the start of the hike and ate pretty much the same thing every day. We found foods that we never got sick and had a menu that looked something like this:
Breakfast: Power-shake with powdered milk, protein powder, instant oatmeal, and instant coffee.
Snack 1: Handfuls of breakfast cereal from a bag
Snack 2: Snickers and peanut butter crackers
Lunch: Bagel sandwich made with cheese and Hummus or a lighter option would be soaked Ramen for those who can stand the texture.
Snack 3: Almonds or granola or an energy bar
Dinner: Dehydrated refried beans, instant mashed potatoes and Frito cracker.
Dessert: Oreo Cookies, or dried fruit for the more health conscious
A final word
When traveling no cook with people who cook, having to smell the aromas of their cooked meals can be difficult when you are not going to eat a warm meal yourself, however this is more than offset by being able to eat before them! By starting the preparation of the no-cook meal before stopping for the night, your meal can be done within minutes of arriving at your campsite. In fact, in many instances we were able to finish our first meal and be on to second dinner before our cooking companions were able to have their first bite.
If these reasons are not enough consider this, eating only cold food on trail makes that first hamburger and milkshake (or your town meal of choice) taste all that much better when you get off trail!
a guest article by Jake “Don´t Panic” Down
No cook on the PCT
Matthias has asked me to write an article about my experience traveling “no-cook” on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This year I hiked the entire PCT, the majority of the trip with my girlfriend, without eating cooked meals on trail. We did not carry a stove or even a pot. I hope to help you understand how and why we did this, and answer the most common questions we run into about it.
My girlfriend and I had hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT) and Continental Divide Trail (CDT) together in the two years previous to our hike of the PCT. When traveling great distances by foot one of my inevitable reactions is the desire to carry less weight. Carrying a smaller number of things that are all light weight makes hiking much easier. In our busy modern life we already have enough complex things. For many of us, hiking is a way to get back to a simpler way of living. No-cook hiking is a good way to heighten this.
On our hikes, we have experimented traveling stoveless, particularly when we wanted to spend more time hiking and did not want to spend the time cooking or cleaning the pot (our most hated camp chore). By switching to no cook dinners, we had much more flexibility on how to eat our last meal of the day. We could set up camp and eat in our sleeping bags without fear of having cooking odors in our campsite. Alternatively, we could eat on our last break of the day before stopping and enjoy a particularly beautiful dinner spot and then sleep in a more convenient or protected spot.
Early trials | Lunch meals for dinner | Power shakes
On our hikes we noticed that we often enjoyed our lunch time meals as much as or more than our dinners, so our first no-cook experiments involved eating a second lunch in place of dinner. This worked. It made clean up easier, allowed for us to carry fewer things, and let us skip the hassle of finding fuel in small trailside towns. Simply put it made our hiking lives easier. Before long, we found other meals we could make without a stove. Instant hot chocolate mixed with powdered milk made a surprisingly tasty snack. Add instant coffee and it would make an excellent breakfast. These tricks allowed us to get by without cooking, but often the food we were carrying would be heavier than the weight savings by not carrying a stove.
Frequently encountered concerns
When we tell people that we hike without a stove we run into several common concerns. Most people think that they need a warm meal in several situations: before going to bed, when it’s cold at night, when it’s cold in the morning, or when it has been raining. There was one time we were hiking in Chile, when we met an English couple whose sensibilities were so offended that we didn’t cook, they insisted we take some hot broth they made for us so we wouldn’t go to bed without something warm.
With summer hiking in particular, when I have hiked the entire day in the hot sun, I really don’t need or even want a hot meal at the end. Eating something filling and flavorful is often all I need before I go to bed. I look forward to the cool of the evening, to the winding down at night. If I need a little more entertainment, a small campfire can do the trick. In the case of rain or severe cold, most hikers find that they have spent so much energy that they want as simple a meal as possible and immediate sleep upon stopping. For me, it turns out that in most of the situations where hikers desire the hot meal, a cold meal can be just as satisfying.
People will often ask if increased food weight more than offsets the weight saved by not carrying a stove. We’ve found that it turns out that once you make the shift to “no-cook cooking” (more about this next time) there is no significant weight difference between the food carried when you carry a stove or not. This means that leaving the stove, pot, and fuel at home is weight directly off your back. Even compared to the lightest stove options (at least 250 grams when including 3-4 days of fuel) the weight savings is on par to very expensive gear replacements. To save the 250 grams of weight you could spend $500 on a top of the line new lightweight sleeping bag or $0 to leave your stove at home.
Concerns that no cook food is boring is unfounded. With proper preparations, the combinations of starch, protein, spice, oil and crunch are nearly limitless. It turns out that most backpackers who carry a stove are already eating the majority of their food no cook. It is only the rarest hiker who cooks more than two meals a day, and most will only cook one. By only switching out a single meal each day, you are not making a significant change in your hiking diet.
Thru-hiking vs weekend hiking
Our experience hiking without a stove is almost entirely in the context of thru-hiking, but the benefits can be felt on any sort of hike. Although you can get away with carrying too much stuff on shorter hikes, the hiking will be more enjoyable carrying just the bare minimum. When you lighten your pack as much as you can, like leaving your stove at home, your pack will feel little heavier than a day pack on short trips.
Coming up next – Part 2: Cooking without cooking
Weight: 145 g
Height/Diameter: 16 cm / 14 cm
Packsize: 17 x 13 x1 cm
smallest diameter for pot: 10,5 cm
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Weight: 129 gramm/4,5 oz (size M, incl. Stuffsack)
Fabrics: Pertex Microlight Mini Ripstop, PEAQ AIR, 3M Scotchlite Reflective
This wind/water resistant pant is just the ideal item to carry on long-distance runs, hiking trips, mountaineering and cycling. The packsize is comparable to an apple and can be stuffed easily into its mash sack. It has reflective parts on the front and back which makes night travel more safe. What I really like is the zipper which runs up to the knee for ventilation or for dressing without removing the shoes. The pant has four velcro straps on each leg to adjust the width on the shin part which is really nice in wind or to tighten it for cycling and running. It has elasticated ankles and waist. The waist commes with an adjustable draw cord. It feels really soft and nice on the skin too and the fit is really good. As I know from many other clothing I use which is made of Pertex it is really fast drying.
Perfect pant to leave camp on chilly mornings or to hike on windy ridges without the feeling you are wearing too much.
Available at trekking-lite-store.com
It took me a while to look and to choose the pictures and videoclips for the slideshow, so here it is finally. I will do some public presentations in the upcomming months, dates will follow as soon as they are fixed.
Hope you like it!
I went on a dayhike yesterday. I shouldered my raft (alpackaraft/yukon yak) and hiked up my home mountain, Schneeberg to reach the Höllental on the other side. Thats the gorge which separates Schneeberg from Rax. The river is called Schwarza. It has a good mixture of whitewater which is not too strong that time of the year and nice slow flowing parts which are perfect to learn how to manoeuvre the raft.It is actually kind of simple. I was surprised how easy to handle it was. So I decided to go downstream a litte bit further than I first planned. I passed several whitewater sections and was happy to have the spraydeck attached to the boat. My backpack and shoes in front got wet but I stored all electronics and spare clothing waterproof on the inside of the pack. I saw that the upcomming section might be to narrow for floating through so I landed on this bank of gravel, ate lunch, dried the raft and packed it all up again to hike back where I came from. Really looking forward to include the raft in multiple day hikes in the future.
Ok I am not going through every item in my gearlist. It all work as I expect it before. But are few things I like to talk about..
Maps and Navigation: Overall the PCT is a well marked trail, the year 2011 was something special because of the heavy snowfalls during winter along the west coast.
I never would buy “erik the blacks” PCT Atlas again. Halfmile´s maps and GPS waypoints are way better and for free.
I loved the iPhone 4 as an GPS in the Sierras. There was not a single day where I lost signal. It worked perfectly. A Smartphone was also nice to have in towns. I had Wi-Fi connection in almost every resort or town.
Shelter: Loved the space in the MLD Duomid but I only pitched it because of heavy wind, exposed areas or rain which was not even 20% of the trip. Next time my shelter would be smaller and I think it would be Silnylon made. Thinking of an MLD Solomid or a simple Poncho Tarp.
Bivy: I used the MLD Superlight Bivy for the whole distance and because of sleeping under the stars most nights it was really nice to have, it kept wind off, bugs out and my sleeping bag free of dust.
There where some nights where I had to open it for ventilation because of high temperatures.
Backpack: Think I would take my Golite Jam next time for the whole distance.
Sleeping bag: Maybe a lighter bag would be enough, but I dont to sleep with clothes or to freeze at night.
Cuben Fabric: This is how those fancy MLD stuffsacks look like after 5 weeks of use. I just carried extra clothes like raingear in it. In my opinion its not worth the money.
I have been asked so many questions during and after the hike that I thought to summarize them for the blog. Feel free to drop a line in the comments if there are more.
1. How many pairs of shoes?
2. Daily average?
3. Highest distance on trail in a day?
4. For how many days have u been out there?
About 130 days incl. 22 “zerodays”
5. When did u get up in the morning?
In between 5 and 6 o’clock
6. How many brakes during the day?
Depends, normally first brake after 3 hours (10 to 15 mimutes), one major lunchbreak (30 to 45 minutes), one in the afternoon (15 minutes)
7. Kcal per day?
3500 to 5000, depending on the mileage and terrain.
8. Whats your baseweight?
Inbetween 4.5 to 6 kg. Depending on the sections.
9. What would u change in your gearlist?
Nothing but no more cuben fibre for long distance hikes.
10. Favourite sections?
All of California and Washington.
11. What would you do different next time?
Yes, for 500 miles continously.
13. Have u had an iceaxe?
14. Would u do it again?
I finished my thru hike at the Canadian Border on the 14.09.2011 just in time before the first winter storms and rain hit Washington. Washington could be my favourite section on the whole trail if there would not be so many of them. One thing for sure, the PCT says good bye not in a silent way. It shows you the beauty of nature and that part of the country till the last minute. I am allready back home but I miss the trail, the friends I made, the hiking, sleeping outside and all the things that made my summer to something special.
I know now what Barney Mann ment when he dropped us off at the Mexican border whith the words “You will have the time of your life out there”.
Thanks to my friends and family, the Manns, the Saufleys, the Andersons, the Hansens, the Dinsmores, Michael and Jean, the Downs, all the thru hikers I met especially Anders and Asger, Dont Panic, Wrongturn, Rainer, Thano, the people who gave us rides to towns an back to the trail, Anitra Kass, Carsten Jost, Laufbursche and the the US Postal Service.
On my way to Etna I met Jean and Michael. I was cooking lunch at an campground, Micheael knew where to spot thru hikers and was prepared for it. He had a cold drink with him. Which was of course for me. After some talking the offered me to pick me up in Etna in 2 days to give me a ride out of town back to the trail. Worked out perfectly, on the way up the pass I had another drink, Jean hab a ziplock bag with fresh homemade cookies for me. Sweet. They where so good that I ate them all due the next morning. I hiked about 11 miles out of Etna Summit this evening. I saw the first two black bears in between just one mile in the Marble Mountains. Amazing how those animals can move thru the woods at that speed. I could not even think of getting my camera in time. I hung my foodbag high in the trees that night. The trail was really nice til the end of California. Good mixture of ridgewalks, amazing views and woods. Reaching the California/Oregon border was a big thing for me. In my preperations for the trip I always said I want to hike at least to this point. Hiking for 1700 miles thru the state of California is an achievment. I checked in at Callahans Lodge the next day. Hiked 12 miles to the this great breakfast that morning in 3 hours. I met Thomas on the way in, he was going to Ashland and got the Heet (alc for stove), Deet (against mosquitoes) and Aquamirra (water treatment) which I needed for Oregon. Very cool so I had not to go into town and could relax at callahan’s. Thomas is a great guy, he shows up on places where you would not expect it and helps you out at any time. The Oregon trail is very gentle to the body, not to steep and easy to follow. I did big miles (40) over and over. The higher elevations still had a lot of snow which slowed me down timewise but not milewise. The navigation was a lot easier than back in the Sierras. The snow was just in patches. The first highlight for me was reaching Crater Lake, this is just a place you have to see with your own eyes. On the way out and for the next days the Mosquitoes got really bad. I was not even able to make breaks because they where all around. At nighttime the temperatures dropped so they go somewhere for at least a couple of hours. But they come back in the morning. Was really hard mentally for me to hike all day long with this annoying creatures around. I met Rainer at Shelter Cove Resort, he was sick and waited for Loyd to drive him to bend. I did not feel like hiking so I took the opportunity to come with them for a “zero-day” in town. Bend was kind of big and I did not do much there.
Crater Lake, Mt. Thielsen, Three Sisters, Jefferson, and Mt. Hood where definitely the highlights of Oregon everything inbetween boring woodwalk on a very dusty trail. Rainer and me took the alternate route Eagle Creek into the town of Cascade Locks. There is this nice waterfall “tunnel-falls” it was Sunday and the tourists where out to visit it. I looked up to the bridge which we will be walking on over the Columbia River to take us to Washington State.
What happened the last couple of weeks…After 450 miles of snow and offtrail hiking through the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite I got to the Midpoint of the Pacific Crest Trail a few days back. The midpoint is really nothing, just a pole with yellow letters on it right next to the trail. But it was a big thing for me to reach it. Even I had my first big lack of motivation just one day before. I thought about so many things which I could do instead of hiking for another 1325 miles. Than I remembered back, my thoughts which made want to do this, I remembered my strategy for the first 1325 miles and I remembered the good times I had so far on this trip. Now I am already 300 miles further north very close to the California/Oregon border and ready for the upcoming trail more than ever.I feel like I am in a really good shape for the state of Oregon which should allow big mileages and runs through wonderful areas like the Cascade Range. It still feels great doing this.
No I am not off trail, still making my way through the snow of Northern California. While I had no time in between resupply points and zero days I will try to explain some of my experiences while not hiking.
I came off Sonora Pass early at around 8 a.m. and got a ride down the pass 25 minutes later. To gentleman who where backcountryskiing in the Sierra Nevada where so kind and stopped their car for me. At that point I had planned to catch a bus from Bridgeport further up north to South Lake Tahoe to receive a mailing which I sended there. Both where from Seattle so they offered my to take me further north into Carson City which was just 30 miles from SLT. Even better for me. At the first stop at Cevrons I bought a liter of Mountain Dew and a pint of Ben&Jerrys for the next 100 miles. In Carson City we had no idea where the bus would leave so they stopped at a casino and asked. We found it but there was no shedule hanging out so we went back to the casino to get a phone number. They stopped over an hour for figuring out how I can make it to SLT today. Both of them gave me their phone number in case something is not working out or I want to get in contact further up in Washington. At 15:30 I got my busride. Even I was a little bit nervous because the bus was 15 minutes late.
It was July the 4th when I came in to SLT. The streets where busy and I was not able to find a motel room for a normal price. I walked 4 hours around town, not even the campsite. I thought about stealth camping at the lake-site but people where everywhere and I was too tired to get out of town again. At least I found a motel-room which was worth the money at this point. The best breakfast place in town was just across the street which was even better. I could get in contact with my danish friends, Anders parents invited my to their cabin, we had great dinner in town and breakfast the day after. We had a good time at their backportch drinking the one and the other beer, talking about fixed-gear bikes and skateboarding which was very welcome for me after talking about river crossings and snowlevels for weeks. Anders father, Lars gave us a ride back where I left the trail at Sonora Pass 3 days ago. We planned on stocking a food cache in echo lake but the road was still closed. So we had to make a new plan. We knocked at an random door on Highway 50 to ask if we can store our boxes for a few days. Mike opened the door and he seemed like that it is the most normal thing in the world to ask. When we arrived at the pass I was tired from the drive and it was allready dark. I made a bad mistake and forgot to close my hipbelt pocket where my wallet was in. I realised that 2 minutes too late and anders father was back down the road allready. Of course no cellphone service. The next morning we had to hitch back into bridgeport which is 30 miles away. We got a ride quick, had breakfast in town and called Anders parents. They found the wallet in the car and we texted them the adress where to send it. Got a ride back on the pass and started our hike at about noon. When we came back to Mikes house on Highway 50 Mike was not at home but he left a message on the front door. He left also the front door open for us without knowing us.
There was something different when I left Kennedy Meadows and it took me a while till I figured out what it actually was. It was silence and the rugged flat terrain of the kern river delta covered with frost. I knew the Sierras are ahead and I was ready for this more than ever. I did not run into any other people for two days until I arrived at Trail Pass. And I did ran into the right people at the right time. Because of the huge amount of snow that was falling until Mai, we had to navigate via gps and maps through most of the areas. Snow buried mountain passes, flooded meadows with huge trees fallen in winter storms and avalanches. I loved how the Sierras slowed me down. For me it was not anymore about doing as many miles as possible day per day.
Tricky river crossings, navigating up and down rock faces, icy slopes and flat areas where deep suncups made the progress of going forward really hard. But the reward was worth the hard work.
Pictues taken between Kennedy Meadows and Mammoth Lakes, through the Sierra Nevada.