Let the Games Begin

Oh my goodness it has been a busy few months! Constantly working, constantly glimpsing at my ever growing todo lists! (Note the plural here!)

Constantly rather exhausted!

But now, all is done and said. I am ready!

All I need to do now is to check in online and hit the airport tomorrow.

Off to Dublin for a lay over, off to Chicago for a two day stop, then off to Little Rocks (Arkansas) where I will be meeting Felix and his family!

I log in, punch in my reservation number, fill in the online form.

Error. Check your ESTA status. Code red.

“Huh what?!”

I thought I didn’t need to fill in the travel authorisation for the US, as I still hold a valid US visa!

I try again. Hmmmm? So that doesn’t work.

Now I worry! Will they let me enter the country? After all, I don’t have an exit US stamp in my passport as I left the US through the woods in 2017…!

Maybe they think I overstayed their hospitality?

I did send a statement when I came home 1.5 years ago, together with proof (copy of flight ticket to Switzerland, and some credit card statements telling that I really did leave the US after having hiked the PCT ..) to an obscure data mining company in the states. So my record should be clear?!

Did they not receive it? Oh stress!

Nothing I can do now, I must just go to the airport tomorrow morning and see what happens there at the check in.

My mum accompanies me to the airport, so we both get up rather early. Its about a two hour journey.

I have been living with my mum the last month, as I did quit my flat in February. All my furniture is now in her basement. (Thank you very much mum for your hospitality!)

Right, let’s hope the check in process here  at the airport works!

The check-in dude says:

“I can only check you in until Dublin. The system does not allow me to check you through to Chicago. You will have to fly to Dublin first and make sure they procces you further from there”.

Sweat is formulating on my forehead!


“What if they don’t let me into the States???”

Now I worry and my mum worries too! I say good bye to her and shed some tears.

Flight to Dublin goes smooth.

So far so good.

Here they lead me through some weired gates, until I see a Pre US Costums thing!

Lots of US flags here and even a picture of Trump hangs on the wall!

It looks like this is a pre border crossing check thing. In Dublin! I guess lots of Irish fly to Chicago.

A long waiting queue.

A grumpy officer looks at my passport.

“Ma’m, how long have you been in the US in 2017?”.

“6 months”.

“When did you leave the States? You don’t have an Exit stamp in your passport”.

I start sweating again and my throat gets dry.

“I know, sir, I left the US through the woods into Canada. I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail”.


“How long do you plan to stay this time?”

“6 months again sir”.


“I will hike the Continental Divide Trail”.

“How long is this hike?”

“Well, six months.”

“Don’t you have a job?”

“Yes I do.”

“What are you working?”

“I work in Communications and Marketing”.

“Did they give you 6 months off?”


(Jesus, are we done now? Give me the bloody entry stamp!).

“With whom will you be doing this obscure hike?”

“With an American Friend”.

“How come you can afford taking 6 months off work?”

“I saved money”.

(Oh c’mon man!)

“Do you have a return ticket already?”

“Yes of course, do you want to see it?”



“That’s alright, good luck then”, he is saying while finally stamping my passport.

“Make sure you leave by the End of September!”

“Yes sir, yes, thank you sir”.


That was almost a piece of cake!

Seems I made it to the US without even leaving Europe yet! I can relax now and look forward to anything that comes!

The flight to Chicago seems super smooth! Ah, one turbulent area to go through.

Touch down! I am in Chicago!

I take the metro direction downtown, take a cab to the hotel.

Tomorrow I will explore the city!

I slept great, no Jetlag symptoms so far!

Alright, I am ready! I have three missions: find breakfast, purchase a SIM card, go sightseeing!

Breakfast: check!

SIM: check!

Now sightseeing!

It’s pretty exciting here! Yes, it’s cold and rainy, but I don’t care!

It’s Chicago! :)

17 replies
  1. Lawrence Allen Prill says:

    Welcome back to the US!
    Can’t wait to see and read your posts along the way!
    Say hi to Felix for me!

    Larry (Bend, Oregon)

    • Randy Slagle says:

      Hi Heidi, I live in Madison Wisconsin and followed your PCT trip just before I did the JMT the same year. If you happen to pass through Madison stop by and my wife and I will make you dinner and talk about hiking! Cheers, Randy Slagle, randy@rsdigitalmedia.com.. BTW I lived in Switzerland (Basel) for 8 years. Cheers, Randy

      • Heidi says:

        Hi Randy! Wow! Thanks for your invitation!! If I ever make it to Madison, I would be thrilled to have dinner with you guys! :)

    • Heidi says:

      Hello there Bruce!! Your comments always put huge smiles on my face! I hope you are doing well!! I will pass on your greetings! :)

  2. Connie Lufkin says:

    So looking forward to hearing about your new adventure! You go Happy Heidi !😍
    Your PCT hiking friend.

  3. Ariane Fecteau-Lefebvre says:

    The grumpy customs guy let you in!! yeah! Once you pass this first angry barrier, people are nice inside :)

  4. Daspet says:

    Hi Heidi,
    We don t know each other but Dale told me many things about your trip😉
    Enjoy it😍

    • Heidi says:

      Hello there Laetitia! Thank you so much for your message! :) I am sure we will! We start pretty soon now!

  5. Lu Thompson says:

    Hi Heidi,
    I can’t wait to hear your stories and look at the pictures you will be posting. I hope this hike is much easier than the PC Trail hike. I wish I could be there to share a picnic with you and give you lots of🍉 watermelon. I remember you fondly. Safe trails. Take care
    Lu Thompson 🤗

    • Heidi says:

      Dear Lu!! Wow! Thank you for your message, my very personal Trail Angel!! Yes! I do wish too! I will always remember you fondly too, for all my life!! I hope you are doing well!! Felix and I will soon find out how hard the CDT is going to be!! Big hug! Happy Heidi (hopefully not “Blister Heidi” this time!

  6. kermit says:

    I am really looking forward to read your cdt-blog. I already read the pct-blog to prepare my 2018 thruhike 😊

  7. Nathalie says:

    Hi Heidi,
    I’m Nathalie from Switzerland. I hiked the PCT last year and am excited to follow your journey this year. I like to hike the CDT in couple of years, too. Best luck on trail, stay safe! :-)

    • Heidi says:

      That’s exciting Nathalie! Excellent! And congratulations on your PCT hike! And thank you for the good wishes! As you know, a tru is packed with adventures and surprises!


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