Eagle Creek Trail & Tunnel Falls

  • Eagle Creek Trailhead – camp at 7 1/2 miles camp – Eagle Creek TH;
  • passing Punchbowl falls, High Bridge, Tunnel Falls, Crossover Falls. 
  • Total miles: 15-16. (Definitely doable in a day too if you have a healthy body)
  • Trail condition: gently uphill, some steep dropp offs

We are parked under the Bridge of the Gods. I’m not walking across. I am under it. Sitting in a car. I feel a sting in my heart. A big part of me just wants to grab my pack and head out on the PCT. Northbound, southbound, who the hell cares. Just “bound”. Meeting the trail feels like meeting an old love you never quite stopped loving. There’s a heartbreak, yet a sweetness too. A longing. Maybe a belonging.

Instead we drive towards the Eagle Creek Trailhead, which makes the heartbreak a little less painful. I’ve been wanting to hike under Tunnel Falls for such a long time. Today will be the day… if my body allows it. My first hike, seven months after surgery. And to be honest, I don’t mind right now that I can’t hike long distances. At this point in my life I am just so so damn grateful that I cán walk. It’s been so hard learning to walk again. And even though every step still hurts, I walk with such joy and such gratitude. Ah. It’s all a miracle. I just love every part of the movement. Lifting my leg, stretching it forward, putting my foot down, shifting my balance, … A fucking miracle… and hard work, but noone ever said miracles don’t need to be worked for (or did someone, a well I guess someone did)…

My surgeon gave me his ‘go’ to start hiking, no heavy backpack though, and nothing above 9 miles. So we go for 8 and Roots carries part of my stuff. 

I feel good, wearing my hiking clothes, my dirty old Tshirt and dirty girl gaiters with holes in them. My tight shorts are a bit loose around my left leg. The muscles haven’t grown back yet. My poor little leggy. Time to make it strong again. I put on my backpack but I don’t close my hipbelt tightly. My screws are sticking out on the front site of my hip bone and can’t stand any pressure. 

The Eagle Creek Trail starts smooth and gently. The trail is easy to walk and hardly goes uphill even though it does cause soon I can see the creek well below and the drop offs are great if you’re not afraid of heights. The trail is carved into the rocks, beautifully made. We wonder who did all this hard work. We should find out and honor them.

We reach Punchbowl Falls together with a ton of dayhikers. After 2,5 miles I need to go lay down. Gone are the days I could walk 17 miles without a break. A well, life changes. It’s not less good. Life is beautiful in a new way, compared to the way it was before my body… hm… how do I put this… I’m having a hard time using the word ‘disabled’. I don’t know what my body is right now, but it’s still pretty awesome. I lay down for 20 minutes, watch the falls and the people, and then we head on towards high bridge.

As soon as we’re past Punchbowl Falls the dayhike crowd is gone. And the trail gets more beautiful with every step. I talk to the flowers, we meet 2 small snakes and I’m amazed by the flora that is so similar to the flora at home. I know their names and their medicine. How cool is that? And then we even hear familiar bird voices. They almost sing the same song, it’s just another dialect. Hey Zaunkönig! Hey Amsel!

At the next bridge crossing the creek and another 2 miles on, I need my next break. We go lay down next to the creek. I dig a hole for my butt and lay down on the pebbles. Seriously feels like heaven. Someone yells down from the bridge. Are you guys hiking the PCT? The water is too loud to talk so he comes down. I saw your Gossamer Gear pack and… Holy shit, it’s Lint! How cool is that. We met 2 years ago along the PCT and never got the chance to talk. Ha this world is small!  He’s a whirlwind of “wild life” and good vibes and one of the craziest hikers I ever met, having hiked the triple crown three frikkin’ times! After 15 minutes of “serious” hiker talk, he continues his hike back down while we head up. Tunnel Falls. I’m filled with anticipation.

And then there it is. Even though I’ve seen many pictures of it, it’s impressive. Pictures never compare to the real thing. Walking through the water drips down from the tunnel ‘ceiling’ and coming out on the other side feels like a welcome shower on a hot day. The trail is wet and narrow and kind of magical. Too soon I’m passed it and for once I’m happy we’re taking the same way back tomorrow. The loop going back along the PCT would be too much for my body so instead I get to hike underneath tunnel falls twice. There’s always something good to find. 

I wake up at night, half asleep. Is it raining? I hear something. That’s no rain, Root says, that’s a mouse eating through our foodbag. We’re so dumm hanging our food just on a treebranch. Should’ve known our little fellow creatures are smart here. We take the food inside. Roots beloved Zpacks foodbag has holes now and we sleep on.

We wake up early but are lazy in camp (ah no need to hurry, we’re short distance hiking). 2 early bird hikers pass. Good morning world! 

The way back down is nowhere near boring. It’s just as beautiful as yesterday. Different. Cause the sun is shining in a different angle. Nothing is ever the same. Just like the river. Just like the light and shadow walking through and making everything look new. Crossover Falls. Tunnel Falls. Wow! 

I feel full arriving back at the trailhead. Full of happiness, joy and most of all gratitude. I am so damn lucky.

    Continue Smiling – A journey along the PCT

    I am so proud of HQ who made a short movie about our journey along the Pacific Crest Trail.

    As the title says, it’s about the ability to “continue smiling”, through pain, through ups and downs, through life. ‘Cause really when you look at life: It’s a miracle.

    And so all I can do, is encourage you to keep smiling and following your heart. It’s the way to happiness! Be grateful, be who you truely are and share your gift with the world ’cause there is only one you and you got this one life to live to the fullest!!!

    Here it is:

    PS: While putting this video online yesterday I was in hospital and I was getting surgery scheduled. It’s gonna be hard but life always has its means of creating some sort of sense. I’ll walk my path… somehow… and next to the tears, which I am gonna cry for sure, I’ll do my best to continue smiling!!!

    Love,

    Cat

    PCT ’15 Gear Review

    I know you thought it’d never come but yessss fiiiinally here it is: My gear review of the gear I used for 1000 miles / 2 months (Mexican Border – Yosemite NP) along the Pacific Crest Trail! As always don’t expect any technical details (you can look those up on the companies’ product pages), just my two humble cents about my gear.

    I got a lot of my gear sponsored by some great small (and some bigger) companies, for which I am super grateful! Just so you know: I have no obligation what so ever to write positively about these products. I’ll write as honest the way I always do and drop as many F*bombs as I normally do. Yep!!!

    Here we go:

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    PCT day 68: Sierra… Bamn done!

    June 26th 2015: Lower Crabtree Meadow – Rock Creek – Cottonwood Pass – Horseshoe Meadow – Lone Pine. Ca. 21 miles (ya better go for it the last day :cP

    Hike through smoke of the San Bernardino fire. It’s like it’s sunrise all morning. Mystic atmosphere. Hike through SAND (beeehhh) and pines all the way down to Rock Creek. We are hungry. Damn! We eat the shitty fake cheese and a handfull of trailmix. Why again didn’t we hike down to whitney portal after summiting? We feel kinda miserable in the sand. It’s slow going. Beautiful views down the valley though and along chicken spring lake. Cottonwood pass is not as bad as expected. Still we’re dead tired when we reach horseshoe meadow BUT we get a superquick ride down to Lone Pine and check in at the hostel, eat Mc Donalds (I know I know), shower and have a bed to sleep in. A real bed! THANK YOU SIERRA! IT’S BEEN GOOD!

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    JMT day 17: JMT the second! hell yes!!!

    aka PCT day 67: June 25th 2015: Guitar Lake – Mount Whitney – Guitar Lake – Lower Crabtree Meadow. Ca. 14 miles.

    We leave Guitar Lake at 6:30 am. Ready to conquer Whitney baby! Ready to finish my second JMT Thruhike. We fly up. We pass a boyscout team (who camped at Guitar Lake too) and I wonder why the fuck they spoil everything for the kids. Too heavy backpacks, too fast, no smiles, bad backcountry ethics. That’s how you ruin it fuckers. We still enjoy the climb (not like the kids) and in 2.45h at 9:15am we’re on the summit. This time I don’t freeze my ass off. I DID IT AGAIN. WE FRIKKIN DID IT! WE COMPLETED THE JMT TOGETHER! YESSS BABY! Continue reading

    JMT II day 16: Forester I’m back!!!

    aka PCT day 66: June 24th 2015: 3 ml before Forester – Forester Pass – Tyndall Frog Ponts – Bighorn Plateau – Crabtree Meadow – Guitar Lake. Ca 19,6 ml

    We leave camp at 6:36 am (yes I checked the time on my cell phone) at 8:15 am (yes I checked again) we are up on Forester. The climb is smoooooth and easy and we got the pass all to ourselves. AWESOME! Back down in the basin we meet a very curious marmot…. o so cute. While we cruse the basin 2 or 3 other marmis (that’s how I call marmots) start a fight and all of a sudden all the other marmis in Marmi land peek out their heads to watch what’s going on in the arena. It’s funny. Marmi heads sticking out of the landscape all around us.

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    JMT II day 15: My favorite view along the JMT

    aka PCT day 65 : June 23rd 2015: Onion Valley Trailhead – Kearsarge Pass – Vidette Meadow – Campsite past Centre Peak, not too far from Forester Pass. Ca 13 miles

    Before we even know it we’re up on Kearsarge Pass again. The ascent is way easier than the descent and we’re surprised it feels so short. We pass Kearsarge Lakes and Bulfrog Lakes and soon we’re at the JMT junction and back at my favorite view towards East Vidette and Centre Peak. I love this view so much. I swear I’ll be coming back to this view for as long as I live!

    We head down and find a bugfree spot past Vidette Meadow to have lunch. Only 4 miles till camp? Can that be? Yessss. It’s hot though and the mozzies keep annoying me, even while I’m moving. Fuckers!

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