Week 4: Snow Day
This week was sandwiched by 20 mile days, but was filled with a more leisurely snow day in Big Bear Lake and spring break vibes at the Deep Creek hot springs.
Beating the Storm
One of the many logistics that I have to keep track of is the weather. This can be somewhat difficult when cell coverage is spotty and I am saving my Garmin weather reports for when I am really in a pinch. So, when other folks started muttering about a snow storm, I was on high alert for cell service on trail.
Sure enough, there were about 24 hours of snow forecasted in a couple days time, and night time temperatures were expected to start dipping as low as 24°F.
To avoid camping at a high elevation with those temperatures in the forecast, I did my first 20 miles day to get from and to campsites below 8000 feet, just before and well after we passed San Gorgonio.
I passed the afternoon with another solo female hiker who I had met (and whose partner provided the In-n-Out run from last week) at the Whitewater Preserve.
She and I discussed the merits of getting into the next town, Big Bear, for the storm. By the next morning, she had heard from her partner that he was still in the area and could pick us up and drive us into Big Bear. We went for it, and passed a 10% marker on the trail. Somehow, 10% feels more momentous than other markers.
Peaking out from my hotel room the next morning, I was glad not to be outside. The snow was falling and acculating quite quickly and the wind was blowing it a bit sideways.
Sadly, the folks in the room above me had woken up around 5am and I could hear them chatting, so sleeping in was not on the menu. Instead, to kill time until stores opened, I continued to binge watch Will Trent, which I had started the night before.
To procure food for breakfast and then my resupply, I ventured out into the falling snow. Fortunately, there was a free trolley (it’s really just a bus) I could take to the grocery store. It felt a bit like Christmas break, or a coveted snow day off from school. Other people were clearly thinking the same thing, and I saw folks from the trail that I thought were way ahead of me, who must have also been sheltering from the weather.
The snow was done by mid-afternoon, so the next morning, a local gave my new friend and I a ride back to the trail. We were both having some foot pain issues, which helped her decide to do less miles. This meant that sticking together made sense for a least a bit longer, and that she got me reading Fixing Your Feet. It’s got some pretty solid advice, the most important of which is that you should read it before you have issues or a big event so that you can properly prepare. That ship has sailed for me, but I am still getting plenty of good ideas from it.
She shared that she is carrying a small plastic dinosaur in her fanny pack, and her trail name “Dino” was born, although she didn’t officially accept it until the next day.
We continued to stick together, cowboy camping in a picnic shelter the next night, and then into Deep Creek hot springs the next day.
I was super excited to hike to, and stay the night at my very first hot springs! They were a magnet for both thru hikers and day hikers alike. On the PCT side of the river, the day hikers has to cross the river to get to them. This meant that they all ferried themselves across the river in an inflatable dinghy (or swam if they were up for it). It made for an entertaining show to watch from the relaxing heat of the pools. They brought the party atmosphere, and after the snowy days just past, it felt like spring break.
To add to that feeling, a guy I had met previously on trail asked if we wanted pizza the next night. Sounds great right? It would, but to get there I’d have to hike 21.5 miles to a campground. Since there weren’t a lot of camping options due to hiking through a state park, we decided to go for it. Thank goodness for the pizza because that was a looong day! We passed two dams, walking past the spillways (which made for great echo chambers).
Dams of course mean civilization to some extent, so there was also a touch of road walking which isn’t my favorite thing.
With cell service at the campground, I could make lots of key decisions about how I could get off the trail to my cousin’s wedding during my next week of hiking.
Day 1: my first 20 mile day, with one of the first bubbles of folks that I could see continuing hiking with!
Day 2: Seeing folks in town from ahead and behind me.
Day 3: Snow falling and accumulating all around as I trolleyed to the grocery store.
Day 4: I think of snow in wet places and cacti in dry ones, but here I saw a cacti peaking out from a clump of snow.
Day 5: I travelled through the forest, the desert, riparian areas, and burn zones all in one day!
Day 6: My first ever hot springs
Day 7: It turns out snickers bars provide a very hefty burst of energy in my afternoons, key for big mile days.
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