The Week of Luxuries: Big Bear to Wrightwood on the PCT

This week has been both physically and mentally exhausting, but at the same time, this week has been full of views, new friends, and luxuries (for hikers that is).

In Big Bear, I made plans with a group of young gals to hike out with them. One year out of college and full of energy and enthusiasm, I was excited to embark on the next leg of our adventure with them. Cosmic (cause she likes cosmic crisp apples), Tiger Princess (cause she’s feisty and high maintenance), Pepto (no explanation needed), and I pulled a big day on our first day out of town.

The trail roamed around Big Bear Lake as it went in and out of pine forests. This section also provided random privies along the way (luxury #1). Pepto was grateful. The relatively flat terrain and shade from the looming treetops allowed us to converse without feeling short of breath. We talked about anything and everything. It’s crazy how fast you bond with people out here. Next thing I knew, we had hiked 23 miles that day. We set up camp next to a creek and fell asleep listening to the frogs sing.

The next day we all had our eyes set on Deep Creek Hot Springs (luxury #2), a well-known area to hippies and hikers that has a cold, warm, and hot pool. As we grew closer and closer to the springs, the temperature grew hotter and hotter. The trail followed along a high ridge looking down upon Deep Creek for the better part of the day, taunting us. Water is so close but yet, so far away. Patience is a virtue, they say. Fifteen miles later we arrived at the springs and boy, it was everything I imagined and more. We threw our packs down and jumped right into the cold pool. We spent all afternoon wading in the water and sitting on the warm rocks like mermaids. Other hikers trickled in and we all ate dinner around a campfire. The temperature started to drop and we took a starlit dip in the hot springs later that night. All the girls decided to cowboy camp that night (camping with no tent) and we fell asleep under the stars.

Disclaimer: extreme vulnerability moment coming up. Last night sounds perfect right?? Hiking through the mountains, swimming in natural springs, camping under the stars with a large group of fellow hikers, what more can a girl ask for? However, as I was sitting in the hot springs, I felt sad. I felt sad that I was doing all of these cool things without my best friends from back home. I miss them so much. I wanted them to be with me during this experience. Why was it that I was surrounded by awesome people but felt so lonely? The next morning, I opened up to Cosmic and Pepto about my feelings and they said they have felt the same way. They helped me understand that it’s OK to miss your friends and family back home. They may not be physically here but I know that they are supporting me from afar.

That next day, the group from the hot springs all decided that we liked each other and wanted to stay together. The trail was random that day. It followed along a road, then on a road, and passed by the Mojave power plant and Silverwood Lake damn. I had service and talked to my dad, brother, and a couple of friends on the phone. They helped me get back in the right mental space, just in time for luxury #3. The last 3 miles circled around Silverwood Lake and ended at the campground. After another grueling hot day, we cooled off in the lake. We found out that a nearby pizza place can deliver pizza and beer (luxury #4) and ended the night celebrating Moon Man’s birthday with a feast.

The next day we were set to pass through Cajon Pass which has …. (drumroll please) … McDonald’s (luxury #5)! First pizza and beer and now McDonald’s? I was starting to feel spoiled. That morning followed along desert mountains with 360-degree views. Beautiful. The last 3 miles to town were downhill switchbacks. I may or may not have run down the mountain. I could only think of McFlurries at that point. The group rested under the shade of trees as we inhaled our big macs and milkshakes. We hiked another 5 miles that evening to the next campground. That is when I found out that I did something to my ankle… I probably should not have run down the mountain. I took Ibuprofen that night, massaged and stretched my foot and ankle, and went to bed early, hoping that it would heal overnight.

We decided to wake up super early the next morning to beat the heat. 20 miles to town. All. Uphill. The whole way. I took another pain killer and set up the mountain under the still starry night with my headlamp on to guide me. My ankle still hurt. Crap. I stopped to stretch and massage and it felt slightly better. I did this every few miles all day. Not good. The uphill was hard. It drained me. However, it also filled me back up again with the amazing views it provided. I got to see the sunrise over the mountain tops. I got to see the clouds still hovering over the valley. Slowly but surely, I made it to town. I now have my ankle compressed and elevated and am eating ice cream and watching a movie on the couch with my friends. Life is good. I’m planning on resting and waiting to see how my ankle feels tomorrow to make plans. Stay tuned.

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