Trail Talk

Q&A with PCT Hiker Franziska Weinheimer

By on October 20, 2016

At the tender age of five, Franziska Weinheimer (aka Turbo) was already a hiker. Together with her father, she roamed trails on the Oregon coast and around the McKenzie River. At just seven years old, she bagged her first big Oregon peak, South Sister. As she grew older, she racked up trail mileage in Alaska, the Smokey Mountains and on a portion of the Appalachian Trail. She even has European trail time under her boots with hiking trips in Greece, Italy and Austria. As Franziska grew older, and life became more hectic, her hiking time diminished. But following a bout with depression a few years ago, she rediscovered hiking and has been back at it ever since. She even started up her own hiking website, HikeOregon.net, in 2014. This summer, Franziska joined up with her father, stepmother and nine year-old brother, and together they hiked 115 miles of the PCT in Oregon.

How did you choose to hike the PCT with your family?

Weinheimer: My dad suggested it. And since we hadn’t taken a hiking trip together in more than 10 years, this seemed like the perfect opportunity!

What do you enjoy most about getting out into the wilderness?

Weinheimer: You get to really learn about yourself, because all of your material things are stripped away. You are left with just your thoughts. The days are simple: get up, eat, hike, eat, hike some more, eat, and go to bed. I also love watching the sunsets and sunrises, which you don’t often get to see on dayhikes.

What inspired you to start up your website, HikeOregon.net?

trailtalk_hikeoregon_logoWeinheimer: I had just completed my first year of hiking since getting back out there. At the time, I was using an old guidebook and found that a lot of the information was out-of-date—the mileage was wrong, some of the trailhead locations had changed, and there was no other information. During that time, I also found that a lot of people are scared to get out there because they don’t know what to expect. So I created this resource with detailed maps, accurate mileage, good directions to trailheads and lots of photos and other info.

What do you enjoy most about running your own hiking website?

Weinheimer: One of the coolest things is everything I have learned over the last two years. Not only about hiking in Oregon, but also about web design, graphic design, photography and videography. I just started my own YouTube channel. Everything I do on the site is my own, so it has definitely been a learning process. I love knowing that it helps people get out and feel more comfortable about enjoying the beauty of Oregon. I have met quite a few people on hikes who tell me they are on that particular hike because of my website! That makes all the hard work worth it!

What piece of gear do you never hike without?

Weinheimer: My backup phone charger. I take a lot of photos and videos during my hikes with my phone. My phone also runs my GPS program. With all this use, the battery tends to die halfway through each day. My backup charger helps remedy this. Plus, if I were lost or in a bind, this would really come in handy.

What is your advice for new hikers just discovering the outdoors?

Weinheimer: To be knowledgeable about your surroundings. Always bring a map and a GPS unit if you can. Next would be making sure to bring enough water. I have seen people climbing South Sister (a very strenuous 12-mile hike with almost no shade) with only a 16-ounce water bottle in hand! This can put you in danger, and make you have to rely on other people. This can be quite dangerous if there aren’t any other people around.
franziska-weinheimer-trail-talk-hike-oregon-pct-pacific-crest-trail-pctoregon.com

Franziska Weinheimer (center, green hat), on the PCT near Opie Dildock Pass, with her family in 2016.

From her home in Eugene, Franziska likes to hike anywhere within a three hour drive, and prefers longer hikes of 10 to 12 miles. Her favorite places to roam are the Three Sisters and Diamond Peak wilderness areas, and Jefferson Park. She has plans to return to the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018 and hike the entire 455 miles through Oregon. You can learn more about Franziska, check out her latest videos, and get hike suggestions at HikeOregon.net.


Would you like to share your own experiences, insights and helpful tips with your fellow PCT and Oregon hikers? Take the PCT: Oregon Hiker Survey and join the Trail Talk conversation.
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