I love challenges, guess that is why I chose to do a thru-hike. It is interesting to see how I can push myself: how many miles can my feet take in a day and how many more miles can my mind push after I feel that my legs are about to give up? The miles between Acton and Kennedy Meadows South were a good testing ground for me.

My knee stopped bugging me just before Hikertown, the hills between Vasques Rocks and The LA aqueduct had made my knee stronger and I was happy to take on the challenge to do Hikertown and Tehachapi in 24 hours. As the heat of the desert was dying down we left for the aqueduct, hiking into the night was thrilling. Would it be windy, would it get cold, and how far would we get before the lack of sleep would get us? The aqueduct portion was easy, walking on a flat ground was a change I welcomed after hiking 500 miles of up and downs. It wasn’t until the very end that the wind hit us. It was cold, strong, and never-ending, but I embraced it. Feeling alive I pushed on until it was time to cook dinner around 1 am. A few more miles and it was time to stop for a quick nap. It was 3.30 am and my body was about to crash. The night sky was clear and the Milky Way was beautiful as always.

The morning brought out stiff joints and aching feet. The heat of the day was already building up as Monochrome and I walked up the hills. At the top, we decided to push forward and have lunch later on. In the end, we just pushed towards Tehachapi and ended up doing the 41 miles in 21 hours. The last mile before hitting the parking lot a local of the desert woke me up by coiling up and giving me a taste of how rattling can send shivers down your spine.

Later that night at “Stay Golds” house I learned that there actually is a challenge to get from Hikertown to Tehachapi in 24 hours. The first challenge was accomplished.

It isn’t by coincidence that there is a huge wind farm in the area of Tehachapi. As we climbed up the wind was getting stronger and stronger. Pitching the tent wasn’t the easiest task while the wind was blowing and waking up in the night as snow and wind had collapsed our shelter wasn’t the wake-up call that I will ever learn to enjoy.

Gusts of 65 mph kept rocking us back and forth on the trail as we walked forward. A few miles later we found some coverage in the trees, familiar voices rocked up behind us as Spring and Poppins came laughing down the trail. The wind might have won the battle against our tent the night before but we won against it on the ridge walk.

As we walked down the mountain the views opened up and we saw our first true glimpse of the Sierra Nevada range. Olancha Peak was standing out with its snowy peak in the distance, the feeling of a proper mountain adventure was building up in my mind.

The 600 mile marker came and thanks to trail angels water was plentiful at the caches between Tehachapi and Walker’s Pass. The day we were to arrive at Walker’s Pass I got an idea of running the section. Mostly because I wanted to get into Lake Isabella to do the resupply and then get back on trail the next morning but also because I wanted to see how running with a pack felt. I ended up running 17 miles and getting to Walker’s Pass in the early hours of the afternoon. My second challenge had also been a success.

The trail magic at the monument at the pass was plentiful: morning beers, donuts, fruit, snacks and chocolates made everyone smile before the climb. Soon the sandy hills of the desert transformed to granite mountains and I couldn’t do anything else except smile. As I walked up the hill, Disco Thor gave me the tour of his hometown Ridgecrest and pointed out nearby rock climbing spots. I really do need to come back to the US for a climbing trip.

The day consisted of three ascents, and whoever planned the PCT, well you did not make it easy for me to reach mile 674 where I pitched my tent that night.

Ever since I have started the trail I have wanted to do a marathon day. In my mind I didn’t count the hike from

Hikertown to Tehachapi as a marathon as I had a nap in between. So, I’ve been trying to suggest it quite a bit to Monochrome as we have walked through the desert.

The not so suddle hints about beers, burgers and showers finally got through and we decided to push the day all the way to Kennedy Meadows. Poppins and Disco Thor were on it as well. As we made our last bigger ascent before Kennedy Meadows the sky opened up with hail and lightning. We ran down the mountain and laughed that the desert was sending us out the same way it has welcomed us all: with dark skies and hail.

We were all racing against time. We had to make it to Grumpy Bears before 7 pm, otherwise there wasn’t going to be any hot showers or burgers. Disco Thor ran ahead and made arrangements for a pick up and we followed along. By the time we hit the 700 mile marker the skies had cleared. It was an amazing feeling to hit that marker, and I also realized that we had done a 100 miles in less than a 100 hours. Not a challenge I had thought about but was happy about the results of the passed hiking days. 0.2 miles later we drew a finish line in the sand and finished our first trail marathon. The 5 extra miles to Kennedy Meadows was our victory lap, and as we took photos under the towns sign, we were all smiles.

Sierra’s here I come.

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