Getting Our Trail Legs: Big Bear to Wrightwood

Somehow, the miles continue to rack up and I’m amazed that we’ve been out here for almost one month! The mental struggles during our first few days on trail seem like a lifetime ago.

A photo of pacific crest trail

Nero Day in Big Bear

We decided that we weren’t quite ready for another zero day when we arrived in Big Bear Lake, so we did an easy day in and then a short day out of town instead. We hitched in with Brian, who sold his cabin in town last year. He gave us a tour of the town and dropped us off at the Vintage Lakeside Inn. The inn was recommended to us by Iron Man that this was the place to stay. It was clean and quiet. Damon, one of the employees, was extremely kind and gave us rides to the grocery store and back to the trail.

Our time in Big Bear was short, but we enjoyed rest, massive pancakes from the Grizzly Manor Cafe, and some great Indian takeout from the Himalayan Restaurant.

Back on Trail

Once we were back on the PCT, we braced ourselves for possible snow over the next two days. While it was chilly our first night out, we managed to just miss the snow and freezing temperatures as we descended to Cajon Pass. Near mile 300, we woke up in the morning looking back at the mountains behind us encircled in dark clouds of snow. The cooler temperatures were a welcome respite from some of the hot days in the desert we’ve experienced so far.

Mile 300

On our third day out from Big Bear, we hit 300 miles. Unfortunately, I’m sensing a theme with our 100-mile markers so far.

–Mile 100: I was still feeling down and thinking my hike might not last much longer.

–Mile 200: I was anxiously awaiting our encounter with the aggressive bees at mile 202.

–Mile 300: I slipped and fell just before the mile marker and scraped up my knee and not much later realized that I had strained my calf muscle.

Basically, I seem to hit my more negative experiences near these significant points in the trail.

So, the calf strain is just another injury to add to my growing list of issues. Thankfully, all have been pretty minor so far, but every time a new injury pops up, I think the worst. Just the day before I fell was the first day that I felt really great physically, too. I battled through the pain and tried to keep my gait as normal as possible. My calf hurt for a couple of days, and then I began to develop a shin splint in that same leg.

I could go on and on about my alternating foot and leg problems, but for now they seem to be manageable. I have my KT tape, Advil when needed, and much rest in camp every night. The good news is that my earlier problems with my posterior tibial tendons are improving. I have stopped taping the left foot altogether and while I still have some pain in the right foot, it’s much less than it was earlier in our hike.

Pizza Delivery and McDonald’s

Being a thru-hiker, a lot of your motivation revolves around food. When we found out that we could get pizza delivered to Silverwood Lake, we were all in. It was such a great to change to hike around the lake after some long stretches without water. We made it a shorter day and stopped at the picnic area for the night, ordering a large loaded pizza and breadsticks (complete with ranch dipping sauce, I might add). We devoured our early dinner and thought it might be nice to relax on the beach along the lake. That didn’t last long after a strong gust of wind almost blew our pizza leftovers into the water.

McDonald’s at Cajon Pass was a day that we had been looking forward to for many miles. We woke up early and hiked 14 miles down to I-15 to spend the day eating burgers and fries. The downhill was not kind to my calf or shin, but I was motivated by the promise of food. And it really was amazing seeing that trail sign pointing to McDonald’s.

We spent several hours in our booth ordering a few different times, filling up on water, and catching up. When we finally had to hit the trail for a few short miles, we felt kind of like shit. But that’s what you get for eating so much McDonald’s all day.

The Push to Wrightwood

We originally planned to get to Wrightwood in 1.5 days from Cajon Pass as we heard that the climb was brutal. Although it was several miles of uphill, we found the grading of the trail gradual and the weather was perfect. When we had done 12 miles by 11 a.m., we decided to make the push to town. The hike into Wrightwood was beautiful and we had our first look at Mt. Baden-Powell, which we will hike our first day out of town.

There are tons of hikers in town and we’re looking forward to getting some beers and catching up with everyone. So far, we’ve loved the town here. Everything is super close and very hiker friendly. We even had our dinner paid for at the Mexican restaurant by a couple dining out there. They had already left by the time we found out, but I was so grateful for their kindness in paying it forward to two smelly hikers. There really are such wonderful people out here.

Our time in town always seems too short, but we plan to spend as much time as possible off our feet. Here’s to the next stretch of trail.

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Comments 1

  • Avatar
    Stephen R Marsh : May 6th

    I was curious why you changed sock brands?

    I’ve got darn toughs and Smartwool socks and am still thinking about which to use.

    Would love your thoughts.

    Reply

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