And two mountins later, we’re in Big Bear.

We have climbed. A lot. Here is the story of climbing over 10,000 feet in 80 miles. It was hard. 

Day 12: Paradise Valley Cafe, Mile 153. 

So it looks like we backtracked. We didn’t, I promise. But we had a really…long day. I think we backtracked mentally/PCT savy wise. Dumb dumb dumb. Ok, here’s what happened. 

We decided to do the detour. But Southbounded it and slackpacked it (had lighter packs/no pack). We made this decision around….10am? And the detour is about..nineteen miles? Like I said, dumb. We didn’t get hiking till 12:30. More dumb. Wilder’s cousins were visiting with a car, and Fire Ant and Dandilion wanted to skip the detour adventure, so they were able to drive us in the car to the detour trailhead at Fobes Ranch and then pick us up from the wonderful Paradise Valley Cafe. 

The hike was pretty, and included a 2000 foot climb, which was the largest climb we had done yet. Luckily, Pony and I were sharing one pack and she was being the trooper with it on her back. I took it for less than half the climb. Cause I am such a gentleman. We got to see the backside of those mountains and some green grass! Forgot what that looked like. 

One of the cousins wasn’t quite ready for a nineteen mile hike so I ended up carrying their pack to help out. After, of course I had carried Pony’s pack for a bit. We booked it the last 6.5 miles cause the sun had to go to bed and we were just over the hike. We hit Paradise Cafe right at 8pm, doing that nineteen miles in 7.5 hours. Ballin’.  Roller had burgers waiting for us (SO GODDAMN GOOD) and the cousins rolled in shortly after. They wanted to get home ASAP so they moved all of our stuff out of the car and then went home. Soooo our options were either to hitch at 9:30 at night where the chances of getting a ride are nil or sleep at Paradise. So we slept at Paradise. Hence the technical backtrack. 

Day 13: Fuller’s Ridge, Mile 187

Woke up to a tent saturated with condensation. But that was made up for by an immediate hitch into town. Didn’t even stick my thumb out. Got into town, packed up, and started the ascent to San Jacinto. Technically the peak trail is a separate loop from the PCT, so we only hiked ten PCT miles but around thirteen total with 4000 feet of climbing. The peak is at 10,834 feet. Heyyy Copper! And what. A. View. We had to scramble over snow to get to the tippy top but it was so worth it. Here is a photo of me and Lacey at the top, laughing at Crimson who just ripped a fart. 

Mind you, we did this climb with five days worth of food on our backs. So our packs were HEAVY. We chilled at the top for a bit and I had to bite my tongue to not say anything rude to the man wearing a “Make America great again hat” who was also at the top. Not a thru-hiker. 

On the way down we got lost twice cause so much snow was hiding the trail. Our handy dandy phones directed us to the path again but that was the longest mile of my life. Probably took us forty minutes to find the PCT junction. Too too long. We passed San Jacinto River, which is this cascading torrent of water crashing down the mountainside. It was beautiful. 

We caught up to the rest of the tramily and actually found a protected spot on Fuller’s Ridge to camp. Sweet sweet views. 

Day 14: Trail Angel’s House, Mile 209.5

When you go up a mountain, you probably have to go down it. We had to go down 7000 feet. We started from above the clouds and ended below them. Tell that to your knees and see what they say. Speaking of, my knee was feeling great! Back to normal, fingers crossed. The first part of the descent was awesome, covered by trees and kinda Sierra-esque with a great view. 

The last three-fourths was all exposed desert. Down down down. And more down. For fourteen miles. We did pass mile 200 today. 200 miles. We are so weird to want to walk this far. But it’s great. Our life is great. One foot in front of the other every day, 40,000 times. Passing mountains, desert, trees, a fuck ton a lizards…it’s amazing. The endorphins you get just from that much exercise make it worth it. You endure pain cause taking the next step is more important than worrying about why your foot aches (to an extent). So many moments are surreal. 

Ok enough philosophy. The last two miles of that downhill were hell. I know I just blabbered about how amazing this experience is but there are moments when you really dislike the trail. We finaaaaally got to the bottem and what is waiting for us? A freaking paved road. It feels like shit on your feet cause it is so hard. And after the pavement was straight up sand. Take one step forward and one back. On the plus side we got some trail magic! Coppertone, who is a bit of a legend, had his car house out there with donuts, fruit and CINNAMON ROLLS. With cream cheese frosting. Holy lordy. My mouth was soooo happy. 

We continued on to the section next to Highway 10, the type of place where people throw their dead bodies. It was so windy I was walking in zigzags. You cross under the highway. It is so crazy to hike under these things that people are driving over all the time and they have nooo idea there are people thru-hiking under them everyday. And drinking the sodas and eating the Doritos people leave under the bridge. 

Our plan was to get a hitch into Cabazon, eat at In-N-Out and sleep at a trail angel’s house. We got the hitch from a different trail angel by the name of Legend. And he is a legend. He knew Nancy, my dentist, and had so much advice to give and stories to tell. He dropped us at In-N-Out and our Canadian and Aussie friends got to eat their first bombass burger. They wanted a second order of animal style fries. Take that poutin. Little did we know we would  be at In-N-Out for four hours. Because they forgot about us at the house. Thanks friends. We finally got there and just crashed cause it was close to 11pm. And when you go to bed at 8 everyday, 11 is like three in the morning. 

Day 15: Ridge after Whitewater Preserve, Mile 224

Today pretty made up for all the waiting around yesterday. We climbed a stupid steep stretch, it was straight, straight up and mosied onto the Whitewater Preserve, which is a sanctuary. Legend was there again and made us pancakes! We got to wade in a freezing pool – it took me thirty plus minutes to dunk – and laid in the sun. Legend said he was making spaghetti for dinner so we decided to stay. 

Good thing we did, because another trail angel showed up with a freaking feast. She has her own catering business and I think all of us had two full plates. There was salad with strawberries and almonds, a cous cous salad, chicken, two platters of cookies, lemonade, and more. It was unreal. Jesus it was good. Best meal I’ve had. Plus the spaghetti. Feeling full is such a luxury. 

We hiked on another six miles with our swollen bellies and climbed this sweet ridge and camped there. It was so windy we didn’t sleep at all. The sacrifices you make for views. 

Day 16: Coon Hill Cabin, Mile 246

Twenty-two miles today. Woke up, or rather just got up cause none of us slept and powered on to a 5000 foot climb. The hurdle to get to Big Bear. We followed Mission Creek for most of the day and then entered an area that had been ravaged by a fire a few years ago. It was dead. 

Really it was just a day of climbing after getting zero sleep. We ended up sleeping in these dilapidated cabins that was supposedly a campsite. They barely had a roof and it was below freezing. But the eight of us squeezed into a ten by ten wooden shack helped increase the warmth. 

Day 17: Big Bear City, Mile 266

Finally made it to the next city. We blew through twenty miles today, hiked from 7am-3pm. We passed Onyx pass without even knowing it and just cruised on from there. Big Bear Hostel put a couch and entire dumpster full of goodies on trail for us dirtbags. We sat there for an hour enjoying the soda and cushions and other than that just walked. 

Now Dandilion, Fire Ant, and I are staying at a trail angel’s place. Haven’t decided if I’m gonna zero tomorrow or not. Zeros are always so tempting. But money-sucking. We’ll see. 

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Comments 3

  • Candice Thomas : May 17th

    Keep on trekking!!! Love these stories!!!

  • Nancy Huber : May 17th

    I love the way you write! Keep at it.

  • Laura Wong : May 18th

    Lov’in the pics and commentary! It’s so Linnea!!


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