Day 1-6 (June 18 – June 23)
Miles hiked: 82.2
Total mileage: 82.2
Dreaming is over, reality is now.
I can’t believe I’m really here.
At around 6:00 in the morning I walk over the Bridge of the Gods, which connects the states of Oregon and Washington, over the giant Columbia River. A little road walk and then, there it is: the Pacific Crest Trail! My first steps on the trail feels strange. I worked so hard to get here. And now I’m really here.
A few hours in I look up and I see a beautiful deer with her young one, strolling over the trail, just ahead of me. Wow what a present to see this. Then they see/smell me and off they go. The trail is ascending steeply here. I watch to the ground and start counting my steps, walking in the rhythm of my breath. The next moment I look up my heart stops. 50 feet from where I am, a black bear, on the trail!! I freeze. Then I act on it and make as much noise as I can. I whistle, make myself big and I shout: ‘Hey bear, go away!’ To my surprise, it does. I sigh in relief. Now I have to get pass where the bear disappeared in the woods. The trail is steep and I walk as fast as I possibly can, simultaneously making noise. I’m totally out of breathe when I reach a little clearance. Ok. I’m safe.
A bear. On my first day. Scary but so awesome at the same time.
That evening, I camp at Rock Creek with two cousins from Portland. I love their company on my first night out. In the morning, they are still sleeping and I pack my bag to start hiking. Just before I make the first steps of the day, I find a beautiful silver ring on the ground. It fits! I feel happy about this since I lost a ring once in the Indian Himalaya. It belonged to my grandmother and it was very precious to me.
My body feels sore. My backpack feels too heavy. I took too much food with me. Aah, I wish I didn’t. But hey what can you do?
On the third day, the trail gains in elevation. Late in the afternoon, at a trailhead/campsite I meet a group of people who are maintaining the trail here. They are inviting me over for dinner. And what a dinner! Homemade Mexican chicken casserole, fresh veggies, brownies, pumpkin pie, ice cold beer. Thank you trail maintainance group!
One of the group members asks me if I have a trail name yet. Everyone who thru-hikes the PCT gets a trail name, a name that represents who you are on the trail. So they come up with a bunch of names, and then they all decide on the name BOG babe for me (BOG = Bridge of Gods, since I started my thru-hike there). And for the babe, well, I’m not going to argue about that!
After this delicious meal, I hike out another 3 miles, up to Green Lake. We’re only at 4100 feet and I’m already encountering the first snow patches. At a meadow near Green Lake, I camp next to Pat, who has made a fire. He took his boys out for camping, 5 beautiful lama’s! Amazing animals. It’s freezing cold tonight and I’m very happy to have a down sleeping bag with me.
In the morning, Pat has made a fire and there is blazing hot and strong coffee. He told me that one hiker came down the mountain yesterday, because of the snow levels. I know that hiker. It’s Thomas aka Shadowfax, a friendly Englishman who hiked out Cascade Locks one day ahead of me. This worries me. If he gave up, does that mean I should give up too? Then again, I know of a thru-hiker who is one day behind me. So when I encounter difficulties up there, I know I won’t be alone.
I decide to hike out today and see for myself what’s going on up there. After 1 mile, there it is. The snow. The trail is somewhat visible but for the most part, it isn’t. I put on my gaiters and micro spikes which gives me more grip on the snow, and I just start hiking. After a few hours I meet the PCTA trail maintainance crew again. “Hey BOG babe, great that you came to help us”. And the next thing I know, I’m on my knees, cutting logs with a handsaw. Respect to those workers, that is hard physical activity! One of the workers offers me a ride from the trailhead to Trout Lake (which is a 13 mile hitch). He will be in the area on the day I end this part of my hike. We exchange phonenumbers and I’m on my way again.
I still can find my way, there are many footprints in the snow and the GPS works fine. Later in the day, I reach beautiful Junction Lake. I decide to camp here and I send out an “I’m OK” message with my SPOT device. I’m camping for the first time by myself tonight. I’m a little nervous about it. I feel so vulnerable all of a sudden. I’m here. Out here. By myself. Surrounded by tons of snow. And a beautiful lake. And a gorgeous sunset on the summer solstice. I doze off. I wake up when I hear somebody saying: “Hey! Hey!” I open my tent, assuming it’s the hiker arriving who is a day behind me. I say: “Hello! Hello!” But there is nobody. Totally nobody. It is really scary. I just heard somebody, right? But I don’t see anyone.
Am I losing my mind?
My mind is freaking me out and I’m scared. It takes some time to realise it was just a dream and I finally calm down. I close my eyes again. I sleep.