5 symbolic miles along the Pacific Crest Trail

June 9th-10th 2016: Tuolumne Meadows – Glen Aulin – Tuolumne Meadows

grandcanyontozion525Tuolumne o Tuolumne. All the memories. So much won. So much lost. I push away the nostalgia and try to see the place as just a place with trees and rocks. Still it are the same trees and rocks who have been silent witnesses of the woman I was 3 years ago, of the night in August 2013 around the fire and the friendships that were born. Tuolumne o Tuolumne. This time the river is high and roars like a wild creature, and once again the place is a witness of who I am.

We leave camp at 8:30 am. Sleeping in feels like heaven. Time to hike 5 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. 5 symbolic miles. The journey will never be over. I’m not sad. No. Rather I just enjoy the beauty and power of the roaring Tuolumne River, the Sierra scenery, the rocks and mountains and pines. The crazy waterfalls. They will all be here when I am ready to return. Continue reading

North Dome and Yosemite Falls

June 6th 2016: North Dome – Upper Yosemite Falls – Lower Yosemite Falls – Yosemite Valley

grandcanyontozion513We only leave at 7am. I need time. But then a hummingbird flies by and tells me everything is ok. Hummingbirds always are a good sign.

We cruise all the way to Upper Yosemite Falls. It’s such an easy trail. But then I crash. I am so tired, so spent. Not just my body, mostly my mind. The night has taken it’s toll. My motivation is zero. I don’t wanna continue to the top of El Cap. I wanna go down and sleep. I just wanna sleep. So we head down 3000 feet / 1000 meter and it takes all of my concentration to not slip on the steep trail down along Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls. By 1 pm we’re down and we can only shake our heads over the people who wanna start hiking up this late, in this heat. They’re not even .5 miles in and they are already breathing heavily and their heads have to color of overripe tomatoes. “We should come sit here in the afternoon, ” I say to HQ “at the side of the trail, drinking coffee and eating ice cream and laughing about the stupidity of the human race.” It’s ridiculous really. (Ya I know I’m a bitch, I know they are at least spending time outside, and at least they are hiking, so I do not entirely mean what I say, but still… maybe a little.) Continue reading

Hiking up North Dome

June 5th 2016: Backpackers Camp Yosemite Valley – North Dome

IMG_4404I wake up in the middle of the night. HQ is sitting upright with his headlamp on. “What’s going on?” I ask. “I heard something! I think there’s a mouse in our pack!” He looks but he can’t find any mice. So he pops his head out of the tent and he sees a raccoon pulling out a bag out of someones backpack. He tries to scare Raccoon away by yelling at him but Raccoon is not impressed. It’s only when HQ gets out of the tent and claps in his hands that Raccoon takes off. HQ puts the backpack some fucker left outside in the bear lockers. 3 Young guys came to camp late yesterday (I was half asleep already) and didn’t even bother to put away their packs and food. Assholes. Here’s to keeping the bears and other wildlife safe. These morons don’t get that it’s not about us humans, nor about the holes in our packs or the lost food. It’s about animals becoming “unwild” and getting dangerous because they want human food, and then they need to be relocated or even killed. Some people just don’t to give a fuck. Continue reading

Time to return to Yosemite Valley

June 4th 2016: Mammoth Lakes – Drive to Yosemite Valley

grandcanyontozion504After finishing our hike in Zion we hitch to Las Vegas (2 awesome ladies take us all the way, straight to the rental car center at the airport), pick up a tiny rental car and drive towards the Sierra.

We organize our food before we head over to the forest service visitor center in Mammoth, where we meet Jaxx who has bearcans for us. Awesome! Thanks so much Jaxx, you frikkin rock!!!

It’s a long but beautiful drive down into the Valley. So much more snow than last year. On the way we see a bear mom with her cub. Sweeet! When we are in the valley things get crazy cause it’s saturday and its FULL of tourists. Thank god we get a backcountry permit from a tired but friendly ranger (The ranger next to him is testing two JMTers to the bone). Seems like he knows that we practice LNT and have spend many many nights in the backcountry. Anyway, we park our car and take the shuttle to the backpackers camp. Definitely a wrong decision on a saturday, the shuttle is over over full, we’re like sardines squeezed in and it takes the bus ages to get to the stables.  Continue reading

Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 14: Zion!!!

May 31st 2016: Checkerboard Mesa – Zion Watchman Campground, 13,5 miles 

IMG_4268It’s a good thing we didn’t continue hiking yesterday evening. We wouldn’t have seen the beauty out of exhaustion. And boy it’s so beautiful here. We make our way (slowly cause there still ain’t no decent trail) around Checkerboard mesa and meet family Bighorn again. Ha! Abbey is right. You can’t see a thing from a car. People passing by, getting out of their car, taking pics at view points have no idea what the back of Checkerboard looks like, have no idea there’s a Bighorn family living there, that the East Virgin River is flowing way back there… Not a clue (but hey what do I know?)! We reach the street and walk to the East Rim Trailhead where we have burried a cache with water and coke and shower tokens. It feels like treasure hunting.

We cruise on the East rim and the miles fly by. It’s only at the end that the people, ya you might call it “masses”, start coming, puffing their way up, red headed like tomatoes. The scenery is beautiful (so ya I get it why people drag their asses up here)! O those red walls towering high over our heads.   Continue reading

Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 13: A slot canyon with thunderstorms above

May 30th 2016: Broad Hollow – Checkerboard Mesa / Zion National Park, no idea about the miles

grandcanyontozion494I sleep well and we get going at 5:30, hoping to make the most of the day before the heat comes. We always make the best miles in the morning. We continue to walk on sand for a mile or two till we have to leave broad hollow and go cross country to rejoin with the original Hayduke route. It takes us a while till we find the right route (there are so many sand tracks here that are on no fuckin map). But we find it and walk too far on it and eventually just go cross country to get down rock canyon. It’s a bit of a search to find a good way down to the East Virgin river  and holy moly I didn’t expect this beauty! We are gonna be wading through the river for the next 4 to 5 miles. Our own personal Narrows. Not meeting a single person the whole day (ya that’s heaven to me!)!

But then dark clouds come over and we hear the thunder rolling in the sky. We hope it will just pass by but o no the thunderclouds decide to just stay there. Both HQ and I think “damn”! A thunderstorm sure isn’t the safest weather condition to be hiking through a river in a canyon for miles. Flashfloods are nothing to fool around with. So we only eat a quick snack and pull through the river section without a break. Raw beauty with thunder above. It’s thrilling and scary and beautiful at the same time. Continue reading

Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 12: Hitching through cultures and following cougar tracks

May 29th 2016: Jacob Lake – hitch to Colorado City – Broad Hollow

grandcanyontozion484I sleep awful. Kids or whatever play basketball real loud till 12 at night and even back in the woods we wake up from it. Who the fuck plays basketball at midnight? (Alright I gotta be fair, I ain’t got nothing against basketball at midnight but I got something against people being loud.)

We get up early to get a hitch out of Jacob Lake. Most people drive south though. Still after 20 minutes a car pulls over. It’s a belgian!!! Mwuhahahaha such a small world. He’s from the same area I grew up in and so we speak the same dialect (in Flanders almost every town has its own dialect). That makes it much easier for me. After living in Germany for almost 14 years now I sometimes find it hard to speak Flemish. But it’s easier when I can speak the dialect I grew up with. He takes us till Fredonia and there the hitch is much tougher.

Not a soul pulls over. After 45 minutes (guess I’m not very patient) a white truck stops. Praise the lord. A Navajo man rolls down the window and says: “I can only take you to Pipe Springs. I’m looking for my 14year old daughter. She ran away last night.” Poor man. He’s been driving all through the area since 3 am this morning. 14 year olds. He tells us he’s been living here for 47 years already, didn’t go to study, learned from the land instead. “That’s a treasure,” I say and all three we know it is true in this crazy world we live in today. Learning from the land is the biggest gift we can give to ourselves and our children. He drops us of at Pipe Springs, looks for his kid at the gas station and drives off again. Searching. I tell him we will pray and we send him good energy while he disappears out of sight. Continue reading