Big Bear, and a Big Bear!

After a few more days rest, the trail was calling my name, so as soon as my ankle felt strong enough again, I headed up into the high elevation pine forests above Big Bear Lake. 

Big Bear Lake and the surrounding mountain ski hills made for a stunning backdrop to my first day back on trail! 

Wildflowers and rock formations added to the forest’s beauty

Holcomb Creek made the hot day more fun as I walked along its willows and crossed its waters several times. When the stream rushed up to my knees, I just took off my shoes and sat down in its refreshing flow. 

On another day, the trail wound through Deep Creek Canyon, a designated Wild and Scenic River on the San Bernardino National Forest. This was probably my most favorite day on trail so far as the scenery just kept getting better and better all day long! 

On this day, I also passed the 300 milemark on the PCT!

Through most of the canyon, we were sweating it out on the exposed chaparral hills high above the river, but at a few key locations, we got to fill up our water bottles and enjoy the cool of the river. 

Deep Creek Hot Springs is a favorite landmark for PCT hikers. The trail literally goes right past this very hot and bubbly pool, which is also adjacent to the icy rushing river. I planned my arrival perfectly after a long day of hiking. I started to change my clothes into a version of swimwear and then realized that this was my perfect opportunity to wash my clothes. In I jumped with everything except my shoes and my sweat-stained outfit benefited immensely from the repeated hot and cold wash cycle. So did all my muscles! Ninety minutes later I was back on trail and my clothes dried almost immediately in the warm winds of the canyon.

On this night, I mosied on another two miles and found a wonderful campsite to complete this perfect trail day!

The next day on trail brought some more wonders with a red dragonfly and so many flowers lining the trail. 

By late afternoon, I came over a ridge to see Silverwood Lake spread out before me. The PCT skirts the perameter of this dammed reservoir. 

It was starting to get late and I needed to find a place to camp- the designated campground was still too far away. I spied this out-of-the-way picnic area on the leeward side of the lake and headed there to explore. 

It seemed like the perfect spot to stealthily hide my tent out of site from any patrolling State Park Rangers. Just to hedge my bets, I didn’t put my bright orange rainfly on my tent, thinking just the grey mesh would be harder for a ranger to see. From there, I watched a beautiful sunset across the lake and headed to bed. I was feeling so proud of myself! 

Until 1:30 in the morning when I heard some rustling noises in the garbage can near my head. I sat up to see a large shape looming behind the can. The almost full-moon illuminated a head and two fuzzy ears- just like on Animal Planet! 


Instantly my mind whirled! My tent that protects me from mice and snakes and spiders was nothing but a cheese cloth to this being. If he got curious with me, one swipe with his paw would be disaster! But although I was feeling very vulnerable, I knew I had two small advantages. First, I had been previously warned that bears were in the area so I had smartly put my food bag and toiletries inside the bathroom building. This meant that there were no smells attracting him to my corner. Also, I know that bears cannot see very well so I reasoned that if I didn’t make this encounter confrontational, he might be convinced to go the other way. 

Immediately I started yelling, clapping, and once I grabbed my poles outside of my tent, I banged them on the table. 

The bear stretched up, looked over the garbage can curiously at the dark corner and decided I wasn’t worth the trouble. He swiveled on his hind legs and took a leap into the shrubs. 

I sat there a long time, hoping he wouldn’t change his mind or bring another bear back with him. I listened to him ransack another garbage can on the other side of the picnic area. He must have dislodged the heavy metal ring with his claws because I heard it clatter to the ground. And then there was silence. 

The next morning, serenity returned to the picnic area.

But in the sand, I found some evidence of my nighttime visitor. 


I think I’m one lucky girl! 

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Comments 2

  • Nephi : Jun 8th

    Good to hear an update. I’m local, I should hike that section of the trail. It looks so beautiful. I can totally see myself jumping in the creek with dirty clothes on.

  • thetentman : Jun 8th

    Great post.

    Lucky, indeed.



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