Sitting here at the Big Bear Hostel in Big Bear Lake, happy to be dry and warm! This also represents the 10% completion point!
I opted to leave Idyllwild after only one night, taking a chance that the storm would prove to be more “bark than bite”, and being rewarded with an incredible day of hiking. Mixed cloud and sun, it was great temperature for heading up a steep climb to 9000 feet. The climb, although steep, was really not bad. I was fully prepared for the climb and looking forward to the descent that was to begin around mile point 187 or so. My goal was to get to mile point 191 in order to set myself up for my first 20 mile day: a continuous downhill/flat that ends at a trail angel’s house. Sounds like a perfect opportunity for my first big day, no? Well, what liked like downhill on the map turned out to have quite a number of STEEP uphill sections…and I was definitely not the only one who was surprised by this. I ended up making it to mile 190 to camp and met Aesop and Sage, whom I’ve ended up hiking with quite a bit since.
The next morning the real descent began. It’s known that this descent is quite maddening: it’s 15 miles of switchbacks to cover 3 miles as the crow flies! The descent also proved to be more rugged and steep than anticipated and I ended up with blisters and the beginnings of a shin splint. It was hot and exposed and I’m so grateful for meeting up and hiking down with Happy Feet for the last half of the day. Her and I were able to pull each other through and cheer each other on during a very difficult day. Once the descent ended, we were looking forward to a 3 mile flat walk to Ziggy and The Bear’s. Never to make things easy, the PCT decided to throw in sand and the final “easy section” was a leg burner. What we though most weird was that neither if us recall reading about how hard of a day this ends up being – between the down and the sand – in any blogs or guide books. Future PCTers be aware: it is very difficult!!
As we approached the bridge, we hoped that the cooler full of cold pop would still be present but didn’t want to get too excited in case the info was wrong! It wasn’t! A huge thanks to Kay who maintains this little cache and ended up showing up with watermelon and fried chicken! It was amazing and incredible and a great near-end to a difficult day.
I spent the night and headed out after the heat subsided at Ziggy and The Bear’s. Although there was no way my feet could have handled leaving earlier (seriously, I was in so much pain but things felt better as the day went on), I really wish I had been given more information about the Whitewater Preserve. Another tidbit for future PCTers: zero or nero here! Such a beautiful spot with a wonderful river, ranger station with running water and bathrooms, in a canyon…I wished I had spent a day here! And free!
The next few days were through such beautiful wilderness areas and I truly enjoyed my time hiking. I ended up having one rough day, nothing serious, just my body felt weary. My legs felt sluggish and it was a hard fought 17 miles…but the mountains were gorgeous and we followed a stream all day! In the desert! The next day found me refreshed and ready to hike. It was the complete opposite of the day before and I hit my 2nd 21 miler in excellent form! Trail magic came in the form of a couch with a goodies-filled dumpster and a beer a little further along! The kindness and generosity of people astounds me and reminds me of all of the amazing help Adam and I had when we cycled Canada.
I had been unsure if I was going to take a rest day or not here in Big Bear but with talks of another storm, and not having a winter tent, a couple of nights in the hostel sounded like a better option!
My next major town is Wrightwood which will be about 6 or 7 days… I think, I don’t have my maps in front of me! Food is going alright but I definitely have a huge need for sugars (candy!!) and peanut M&Ms!
As always, your notes and messages of encouragement mean the world to me, even if I can’t respond. Thank you!