The One with the Cold and the Hangover

“It was such a fucking miserable night”

Just as exciting it is to arrive in town, it is to leave one. Especially if you’ve been there for 4 nights.

After the longest day I’ve done yet in my life, 25 miles (40km), reaching Big Bear on Monday night was a blessing.

The mansion

We rented an Airbnb in town for 2 nights, a house we called The mansion because it had a hot tub and felt way too fancy for us. Those two nights ended up being four in the end because a snowstorm rolled in the day we intended to leave.

The day of the snowstorm

We cooked amazing dinners and breakfast together, cheered in champagne in the hot tub, played cards and watched movies during the evening. The morning of the snow we listened to Christmas music and made a big brunch. I ate so much food during those days. It was amazing. The last night in The mansion we all pulled our madrases to the living room and watched The Hunger Games together. We joked about it being similar to hiking the PCT. Except for all the killing.

It was so nice to have a few days in Big Bear and to have time to do nothing. So far I’ve always felt a bit stressed when arriving in town. It’s so much stuff that needs to be done – resupplying, laundry, shower, planning and catching up with friends and family back home. But now my body had time to heal and rest up before hitting trail again on Friday.

I was happy to be back and the day was beautiful. The two following nights was cold with temperatures close to freezing. The second night we had to cowboy camp by the river we had swam in earlier that day when it was warm. Now it was freezing and I made the mistake of staying out to late talking before entering my sleeping bag. It had already gotten moist by the condensation and it was impossible to get warm. After a few hours of absolutely no sleep and trying to force-cuddle Whiplash and Gadget out of desperation I left camp at 3am. I hiked until sunrise with all my layers on without creating any kind of heat in my body. I arrived to the hot springs where we had planned to spend a few hours and I ate both my breakfast and lunch at the same time. Still shivering I went down in the spring and it took me more than one hour before I started to feel warm again. It was such a fucking miserable night. Not being able to sleep and being so cold is like torture. Pure torture. And also a bit scary. Definitely learnt a lesson and promised myself when I was hiking in the dark that I need to change my sleeping system. Something is clearly not working.

A few hours after the most miserable night on trail

After a few hours sleeping and waiting for the guys to arrive we ended up having an amazing day at the hot springs. There was a ton of people, both thruhikers and locals. A lot of people were naked and a lot of people were smoking weed. We swam, ate and sunbathed. I almost forgot about the horrible night I had. It’s so funny how it works. The second you’re not cold anymore it’s hard to imagine you ever were. It’s like I’m gaslighting myself. Every night of being so freezing I think never again, but the second the sun rises you forget all about it.

I’m gaslighting myself

In the afternoon the same day we hiked the last miles to a junction were a trail angel picked us up and drove us to a bar where we could camp for 5 dollars. It was such a cool place. It felt like it was in the middle of nowhere, like the real Wild West where you could park your horse outside. We were about 20 hikers and we started to drink beers and smoke together with the locals. It was maybe one of the funniest days on trail so far. I got drunk, won in cards, we danced, played the jukebox and the entire bar sang Piano man and Mr. Brightside together.

The night of the party

We talked about that the best part about hiking the PCT is not actually hiking the PCT. It’s everything else around. The beers and the rivers, the bonfires and the food, the people and the music. It’s everything that happens in between the walking. That’s what makes it worth it. And that’s why we are here.

The best part about the trail is the non-hiking part

The day after we were all a bit hungover and tired. One of the guys we had met the day before offered to make us breakfast burritos in the morning so we all headed over to his house. It was awesome. After saying goodbye we started hiking again close to midday and me and Guardian took a two hour lunch break in the shade after swimming. We only did 10 miles from the bar and ended up camping under a big electrical tower. The sunset was incredible over the desert valley. I ate mashed potatoes with salami and we fell fast asleep.

Sunset over the desert

I’m starting to feel stronger in my body and the miles are coming easier. I have no pain where I thought I would have it and more in places I didn’t even think about. My arms hurt really bad every day. I think it’s from using the trekking poles and maybe from my backpack. I try to stretch every day but it’s hard to remember. Before starting the hike I thought I would have endless of time everyday. To write and stretch and think and read. But that’s not the case at all. I haven’t written a single word in my journal or read a single page in my book. Sometimes I almost feel like there’s not enough time every day for all the things I want to do. It’s so weird. But then also not at all if I think about it. Between hiking for 8 hours, taking down and setting up camp, cooking food and sleeping – doesn’t leave us with that much time left. Add socialising with people and your hours are pretty much done. But still. I’ve been optimistically carrying my notebook all the way from The southern terminus. In hope that I will one day write in it.

Go to sleep or journal?

The following day we hiked through a nice section with a lot of water and beautiful desert scenery. I hiked to far and to long without eating and arrived to a junction where you could walk to a McDonalds. Tired and with very low blood sugar I stumbled into the gas station next to the restaurant. I bought way to much food and sat on the curb side watching the cars drive by while I ate. I washed my armpits in the toilet sink and felt so much better hitting trail again, with a full stomach and a bag of chips in my backpack. How good food really can turn a day around. The night was windy but I managed to find a somewhat protected spot where I pitched my tent. In the morning I awoke by the trails first rain and it made me happy. The fog lay heavy in the first hours of the day and it was cold. It reminded me of home and the mountains in the north of Sweden.

Cold McDonald’s for breakfast

One of the guys had filled his pack with 14 hamburgers from McDonald’s the previous day, and he gave me one that I ate cold for breakfast. The burger went good with oats, coffee, smashed chips and candy. A breakfast my 8 year old self would envy. The PCT truly has no rules when it comes to food.

Lunch above the clouds

We ascended the entire day but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Again I waited to long to have lunch and crashed on top of the mountain. We were above the clouds and the view was amazing. I fell asleep on the ground after I ate and got woken up by Guardian one hour later very delusional. It was such a good nap in the sun and I made it a few more miles before setting up camp alone on a ridge.

Tomorrow I will hike into Wrightwood. Have a Nero before hitting trail again on Friday. I’m so excited to shower and drink warm coffee. The next section will be hard, so I’ve really enjoyed taking it easy this last week. It’s been such a blessing to enjoy every day. To rest when I feel like it, nap when I need to, swim when I’m hot, eat when I’m hungry and drink beers when I want too. I feel violently alive everyday.

I feel violently alive everyday

◦ Night’s cowboy camping: 18

◦ Clif bars devoured: 62

◦ Blisters: 2

◦ Beers: 38

◦ Rattlesnakes: 11

◦ Zero days: 7

Miles 266-363 (428-584 km)

3 things I’m grateful for:

Swimming in the hotsprings.

The jukebox at the bar.

Feeling stronger.


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Comments 3

  • thetentman : May 13th

    I think you are having too much fun. Be careful.


  • Jeff Greene : May 14th

    I’m following a lot hikers this year, and even with the cold night, this one made me happy. I live in SoCal, and have hiked to those hot springs and stayed many times in Big Bear, so it was fun to see them through your eyes. Hope you continue to have a great adventure!

  • Nephi Polder : Jun 27th

    I’m also from the area, I can’t figure out what bar you were driven to.


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