a journey of 2,652 miles
THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL 2018
starts with a single step.
Miles 1135.9 to 1153.9. Five Lakes Creek Camp to bushcamp.
Today I don‘t wake up because of the alarm clock, the sun heating up the tent or Dario snoring. Today I wake up because I smell something in my nose. Smoke! This is bad and very unsettling. We have hiked through smoky areas, yes, but we only ever saw the smoke, we never actually smelt or tasted it. And this scares the hell out of us. We pack up quickly and start hiking soon to leave this area in hope of the air quality getting better soon. Our German friend (whose name we don‘t remember) is still asleep.
On our first climb up we meet another hiker. A guy from England and the first SOBO hiker we meet! We are so-called NOBO hikers, short for Northbound, as in hiking from Mexico (south) to Canada (north). And well, this Brit is doing it the other way round (only about 10% of the hikers do it this way). And he is already past the midpoint of the trail meaning he is very fast since SOBOs usually don‘t start their hike until July. We talk with him for a while, asking about the smoke conditions on both sides and what we both can expect in the upcoming days etc.
Later today we are scheduled to arrive in Donner Pass, and the ski ranch there is known to hand out free 40oz Cobra beers to PCTers. With this huge motivator in mind we speed up, again hiking on beautiful ridges and past ski areas. We make good time and reach Donner Pass hungry and thirsty around 4pm. We both order large burgers with fries and get the free beer. 40oz must be somewhere between 1.5-2 litres of beer! Per person! Dario will of course be able to finish his, but I am not so sure. While we are talking we are suddenly interrupted by a girl at the table next to us. In Swiss German! In Bärndütsch actually! It turns out it‘s 21 year old Céline ‚Sweatheart‘ from Bern and we like her instantly! She hitched here from Mammoth Lakes, being at the very end of this year‘s NOBO hikers and hiking by herself, so it‘s understandable and reasonable that she decided to hitch further up north. She also introduces us to ‚Grim’ who has just completed his Triple Crown (when you successfully thruhike all three long distance trails of the US, those being the Apalachian Trail (AT), the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and the PCT, right here at Donner Pass and ‚Flamin Hot‘ who was passed out on a bench when we got here.
The five of us spend a very entertaining evening together (finishing my beer and ordering some more!), celebrating Grim‘s huge milestone accomplishment and decide that we will hike out together the next morning. Then we leave together with Flamin Hot and camp right outside of Donner Pass on a flat piece of land in the forest. Sweatheart will join us in the morning as she is spending the night in the bunkhouse of the ranch. Should we really end up hiking with these two then the next chapter of this hike will be filled with fun, laughter, companionship and a lot of great and memorable times I am sure of it!