It’s been a while since I’ve been able to update my blog and some memories are already getting a bit confused so the accuracy of the following timeline is not very high.
After leaving Mission Creek, the terrain became less interesting; we were mostly hiking through moderately sized hills that were covered with small scrub but occasionally the desert will surprise you with flowers, like the following:
During these sections, hikers sometimes get bored and decorate the trail in creative ways.
Along the way, I met “the Family”. They are parents and their two children who are through hiking the PCT. They are from far Northern California and this is their third attempt at the thru hike. Their daughter just finished high school and their son is 12. Three years ago, when the son was 9, they hiked 600 miles of the trail but had to stop for several reasons. It was absolutely amazing to talk to them and hear about how excited the kids are to be hiking for so many months. Very inspiring, but it also sounds incredibly difficult on so many levels.
There are some very strange sightings every once in a while. For instance, in one place there is a privately owned, large animal center, right on the trail. I heard various stories about the history of the place, but either the owner keeps the animals and rents them out to Hollywood when a movie needs them (think: tigers in Gladiator) or the owner takes in animals after they are no longer capable of working in the movies. Either way, the small cages that I saw were depressing, especially after I realized that a grizzly bear was in one of them.
But some other sights are absolutely amazing. For instance, one evening I was coming down a hill, wishing I was already in camp when I came upon a dumpster with awesome artwork on it and a couch! The dumpster was stocked with hiker fare: water, band-aids, toiletries, peanuts, and spaghetti (in case of emergency only) and was true tail magic. I sat alone on the couch for half an hour, enjoying some peanuts and looking up into the sky. It was a small slice of heaven.
After the couch, I made it to a camp that was filled with hikers. I had hiked most of my 27 miles that day alone and it was nice to have people to chat with while I stretched and ate dinner. I even discovered that the Jolly Green Giant, Magic Man and Fox Trot were camped there as well! We had caught up with them. Most of the other hikers had started a few days before us and it felt good to be catching up with them.
That night it was cold sleeping in the small valley. I had all of my layers on and woke several times during the night, shivering. In the morning I found my water bottles were frozen solid! It was by far the coldest night on the trail yet, but I survived and only needed to hike in my long underwear for an hour the next morning.
We weren’t too far from the towns of Big Bear City and Big Bear Lake and it was just a short (10 mile hike) to the road. We ended up as a group of six hikers on the highway, waiting for a ride, which can be very difficult to manage since no one wants to pick up that many people, but we got really lucky when a guy with a huge truck came by and managed to fit us all inside.
After a large breakfast at the Grizzly Manor Cafe in Big Bear Lake, we tried to run our errands and encountered some problems. The towns are five miles apart and very spread out so without a car, it is very difficult to get around. We ended up calling the trail angel who was holding my and Horizon’s resupply boxes and he was kind enough to pick us up and drive us to several places.
The vibe at Papa Smurf’s and Mountain Momma’s was a bit strange, although their son was very nice, and our original plan of spending the night there changed pretty quickly. Instead of hanging out for a while, we got our chores done as soon as possible and got back on the trail. I did, however, receive my first care package in addition to my own resupply box and was happy to have some extra goodies in my food supply for the next few days.