Sand, Snow, Starting Strong

Greetings from Big Bear Lake! Today marks my 13th day on trail, and my first rest day with a breezy five miles into town. Averaging 22 miles a day out the gate has put my hiking partner Waffles and I ahead of most people we started around, but we’re definitely starting to settle into a groove. The trail has been so much more beautiful and wild than I imagined and I couldn’t be happier to be out here.

The Desert

The Desert has rarely felt like a desert. The above average precipitation this year has made for a beautiful lush landscape filled with wildflowers and rolling green hills that, according to locals, are typically desolate. There is so much more life here than I expected, I’ve seen at least a dozen snakes and probably a trillion lizards.

Water has also been more plentiful than I feared and there are tons of sources flowing directly on trail in places not marked on the maps. The only truly hot day I’ve had so far was on the climb out of Scissor’s Crossing, where a local trail angel happily told me it was 101 degrees on the desert floor. Hot, but still manageable.

The Snow

My most pleasant surprise thus far has been the snow sections around San Jacinto and headed into Big Bear. Hiking out of the Desert and into the snow has been such a strange mental experience, just a few days after leaving the heat I woke up with a layer of ice over my tent that we crammed three people into for warmth. The change in environment and temperature has really kept me on my toes and kept me excited for what comes next. Every day has been so unique that it’s truly hard to believe it’s all been the same trail.

The snow has taught be some tough lessons, primarily that YakTraxs are simply not the same as microspikes, and essentially do not work. The lack of traction on my feet has given me PLENTY of experience with my Ice Axe, which was less than ideal but has at least been a confidence booster. Additionally, you might want gloves when the windchill drops to 3 degrees. Who would have thought! They were my first purchase upon arriving in town.

Most of all I learned I like the snow travel, which lucky for me there will be plenty of in the not so distant future. I’m trying not to think ahead too far, but every time the Serria crosses my mind I can’t help but feel excited.

Readjusting to Trail

This happened seamlessly, and it’s felt like I never left. Despite a rigorous pre-trail workout regiment of drinking beer on my couch, my body instantly snapped back into hiking mode, and the miles have come relatively easily. I haven’t found a scale yet, but my guess is that I’m down 15lbs from this time two weeks ago, and it feels great. Only issue I’ve run into is some light soreness in my left Achilles coupled with some swelling, but I’ve been stretching religiously and feel little worry.

My favorite part of the Appalachian Trail was the people I met along the way, and the same is already true here on the PCT. I haven’t found a group that’s quite hiking the same pace as Waffles and I yet, but I’ve spent some great times with some great people. Tons of friendships forged, if not quite a tramily.

If I had to pick something to complain about (which I always will) it would be the fact that I seem to be allergic to every plant Southern California has to offer. Every day brings a new rash, hives, or relentless sneezing. Oh well, I’ll deal.

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