Today’s a big day for reasons.
Reason 1: Yes, I’m back after roughly a week of being lazy all over the place waiting for my knee to heal.
Reason 2: I’m going to work very hard to get the hell out of Big Bear. After being stuck at this point on the trail for who knows how long, I’m ready to make progress again.
Reason 3: It’s day 30. I’ve been at this for a month now. I’ll be honest, the only reason I know this is because of this blog and labeling each day individually on all the posts. But I have to admit, I don’t know if I was confident in myself enough to get this far time-wise and mileage-wise before I started the hike.
I’m excited to get back on trail, but I take my time packing everything up. My goal was to at least get out the door and onto the trail by 12. Challenge accepted. My dad’s still asleep, and I absolutely hate waking people up, so I clicked away at the internet for a while until I couldn’t wait around any longer. I woke him up (noooooooooo) and we stopped for a quick breakfast. I got a box o’ food from Taco Bell and couldn’t finish it. Is my hiker hunger gone? Aw.
We drove up the highway to get back to the trailhead and I stared at the landscape blurring away past the windows of my dad’s truck. I’m still adjusting to being in a car even after all this time. We eventually arrived and I got all my stuff together. As I did that my dad offered hikers rides into town, but due to the closure most people were getting back to the trail at this point, not off. A for effort either way.
The trail started out nicely. It wasn’t too uphill or too downhill, and more importantly I wasn’t getting weird vibes from it. Most of the time I’m alright with being totally alone out here, but some sections are just ridiculously uncomfortable. I’ll get over it eventually..right? My first stop of the day was a couple miles in at a campground to fill up my water bottles. I reached the spigot, turned it on, and it stubbornly dripped water at a measly 1 liter per 2-3 minutes. I’m going to be here for a while.
I walked back up to the PCT and passed an equestrian (person on a horse). I dunno why but it’s always cool to see different kinds of travelers on the trail, be they day hikers, SOBO hikers, horse riders, etc. NOBO thru-hikers are awesome and all, but conversation is usually “Where’d you start today?” “When did you start the trail?” “How many miles do you do a day?” etc. I said hi, yielded, and moved on.
The trail moved upward into the mountains surrounding Big Bear, and I started leap-frogging with a few hikers and a dog. The temperatures are so much higher than they were a week ago, it totally caught me off guard. The hikers had to stop and take frequent shade breaks to let the poor dog stay cool, and I felt like following the same routine. I’m going to be in trouble when we get back to the desert with all this sun business.
Eventually I got to the top of the climb and the scenery slowly started to transition from ragged tangled bushes and dry trees to actual forest. The kind of forest you expect to see from a town surrounded by pine trees. Above all, it was my favorite kind of forest. The massive trees were very well spaced out leaving plenty of room to wander around. After coming from Washington: land of dense forest, it’s nice to have room to breathe and still be among trees.
The trail wound downward into the trees and I started leap frogging with another hiker. We said hi, but we’re both solo hikers. I’m starting to notice that people who are solo at this point are solo because they kind of choose it, myself included I suppose. I passed her and made my way to another campground with a small stream winding by and refilled my water bottle. I didn’t really need to, but I’m manic about having enough water on hand. Running out is still a big fear of mine, I like water too much to go without it. As I was filling my bottle, the other solo hiker came by and we actually talked for a while. My injury came up and she told me she hiked most of the Appalachian Trail with an ankle injury and was miserable for the longest time, but still pressed on. Kudos to her, seriously.
I decided to keep my mileage short for the day to be gentle on my knee. I hiked a couple miles away from the larger campsite and came to a place near a site with a picnic table and some makeshift benches surrounding a fire pit. Near that was a clearing in some tangled trees and I opted to set up in there and leave the larger site for potential groups of people who need the space. Once my camp was in order I sat down and laid back into the dirt. It felt incredible, like my spine fused with the ground. I laid there like that for about an hour watching the branches above me sway in the wind. But of course this was interrupted by my stomach.
I sat up and dug through my food bag. I have new food this time: rice! No more potatoes for me, not for a while. I put the contents into my pot and let them soak in water a while, then boiled it, let it sit for 30 minutes, and took my first bite. It tasted like victory, in your face mashed potatoes! It was spanish rice and it actually had flavor!
As I ate a couple of guys walked by and set up near me at one of the neato-torpedo campsites. I’m pretty sure they’re the hikers I passed earlier with the dog, but there was no dog. I’m too busy enjoying the moment of being back out on trail however and didn’t really feel like getting up to socialize. And for some reason I’m tired? Why am I tired? It was a short day and the hike wasn’t bad at all.
The sun started to go down and I hopped into my tent. I looked at the roof of my little home and made a determined note: I will get out of Big Bear. I will absolutely get the hell out of Big Bear this time, I don’t care what I have to do. I will make it to Wrightwood.
I sat up and tapped notes about the day. As I was backing it up I accidentally deleted everything. Well I guess I get to re-write all of this now! Argh.