Big Bear… Finally!

Day 33

I took advantage of the cabin’s carpeted bedroom and did a yoga session. It felt great! As with Karin and I, our NoBo friends were lured into taking a zero day in Wrightwood. They gave a chorus of goodbyes as I headed out. Then Hawk drove Karin and I back to Cajon Pass.

All day the trail was relatively flat with plentiful small streams. Also, it was warm and there were a lot of lizards, yay! I started a new audiobook, Hell of a Book, and listened to half of it. I encountered many NoBo’s, recognized Mike, and chatted briefly with him. Karin texted that she was feeling shitty and moving slowly, taking breaks.

For miles, I hiked along the edge of Silverwood Lake. When it ended, the trail descended to a paved road before ascending once again. I actually met another SoBo named Detour. Like us he started from Walker Pass, but is headed to Warner Springs. He has been section hiking for years and is close to completing the trail.

After 22 miles, I set up camp near a small stream. Though I felt rather exhausted, I enjoyed the benefits of a warm evening. Instead of huddling in the tent, I sat on a rock for my wet wipe bath and dinner of gluten free tortillas with Pepper Jack cheese. Walking back to the tent, I startled a small mouse so I hung my Ursack in the branches of a scrawny bush. I left space in the tent for Karin. She showed up as I was brushing my teeth.

Day 34

An hour or so into the day’s hike I realized that I had not peed since late afternoon the previous day. Not a great sign… so I drank all my water and filled up a liter at the next stream. I felt both cooler and more energetic. For the rest of the day, I kept up my concerted effort to drink more water.

After 6.7 miles hiking, I came upon the Deep Creek water crossing. Karin was waiting to guide me across. I removed my socks and shoe insoles, then put the shoes back on. I also turned my pants into shorts. Karin picked out a great route and at its highest the water reached my knees. I felt how the tug of the current lessened when I walked along the flow vs. against. We had a snack and water filtering break on the far bank, chatting with three girls and giving our calves and feet time to dry.

The trail rose up, offering a view of Mojave River Forks Dam. Then it followed the gorge of Deep Creek, views of roaring falls alternating with deep pools. An arched rainbow bridge took me across the creek. A couple miles later, I was at Deep Creek Hot Springs. It was a Saturday and the spot was busy with folks enjoying the water. Karin and I took a long siesta, chatting with a local named Armando while we ate lunch. Then I stripped to my underwear and explored both the hot and cold water.

The trail stuck to the gorge for the remainder of the day. At the last stream crossing before camp, we encountered a fun group of NoBo hikers and stopped to chat for awhile. Up the hill from camp, with dusk falling, I heard a strange noise and looked down to see a cute, baby mouse beside the trail.

Day 35

One mile into the morning, I found the 300 mile marker (500 miles for us)! Even though the miles aren’t the challenge this time, it was still a cool milestone. A hiker I met in Julian stopped me to chat. Then I came across Eric and we spent an hour catching up, that was fun! Southbound is definitely the reunion route.

The trail crossed Holcomb Creek three times. I did each crossing in my flip flops due to the sandy, relatively rock free, bottom. The first two crossings were knee deep and felt refreshing. I actually crossed 0.1 miles too early the third time and cut cross-country back to the trail. A passerby told me Karin was waiting at that crossing plus I wanted water.

Over the course of the day the trail climbed 4,000 feet. It was gradual and pleasant. The scrub brush slowly became a pine forest without much undergrowth. Snow capped the distant mountain peaks. I finished Hell of a Book and enjoyed both the thought provoking subject matter and unpredictable story arch.

At our last water source of the day we met Olaf and Gunnslinger. Olaf is from Israel and hiked the Israel National Trail. Our friend Sonic first told us about the trail. Olaf had people who cached water for him in the desert and met trail angels who put him up in their homes. We also met Mockingjay, who got his name when a bird followed and sang to him during a tough trail section. Fun to chat so much. Then Karin and I found an awesome campsite with tent and hammock spots plus a view!

Day 36

The day started amidst pine trees and I felt peaceful, a strong sense of home. I observed three deer and a quail bobbing its head. The only sounds were birdsong and my footsteps. Gradually Big Bear Lake appeared in the distance.

Though I felt lethargic, our 17 mile day went fairly quick. Alyssa, a friend from Colorado, picked Karin and I up at the Highway 18 road crossing near Baldwin Lake. It was really kind of her to drive 45 minutes to pick us up! We stopped by the grocery store in Big Bear, got a scenic driving tour of the north shore, then took a curving mountain road to Running Springs.

Alyssa’s large, fluffy, white dog Cameron greeted us at the door. Her house was so cute, the perfect size! Less than 1,000 sq. ft. it nevertheless had a guest room. The shower was even better than Wrightwood and it felt luxurious to do laundry after only 4 days on trail. We each had a resupply box that I mailed before starting the trail. I put a box of Daiya mac & cheese in mine. Karin sautéed veggies that we added to the pasta for dinner.

Day 37

You can take a hiker out of the woods, but she still wakes early! There was an electric kettle so I had dark chocolate cocoa then herbal tea. Alyssa had several books on the area which I glanced through. FarOut is great for water source comments, trail details, mileage, and town services, but it doesn’t have much information on the terrain surrounding the trail. The Garmin identifies most mountains and lakes. Neither guide discusses flora and fauna.

For breakfast, I made a zucchini and egg frittata. Then Alyssa drove us to LuluBelle’s Coffee House where I got a hummus and veggie sandwich on a GF bun. Tasty! I also had a gluten free peanut butter & chocolate chip cookie. Back at the house, I made almond flour brownies. It was fun to cook in a well-equipped kitchen and I was totally craving chocolate!

Karin & I spent a long time chatting with Alyssa, then she took us back to the trail. It really was a lovely interlude! Less than ten minutes into our hike we came across a baby rattler. It made an ‘s’ shape before slithering away silently. We walked almost four miles then camped. A wild donkey brayed from the nearby hills. I felt so happy in my tent home.

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