Mile 229 to 248.2, 19.2 miles
There’s something nice about boiling water and then eating hot oatmeal in my sleeping bag. I try to get as much done in the morning as I can without having to get out of it, so that includes eating. Jet and I were hiking just after 6:30. No rain and clear skies. It was a chilly morning – being in this valley/canyon makes a big difference. More trail washouts, but not too much time off trail…it’s there if you look. Shoutout Beyond Malibu for whatever route finding skills I may possess.
Even though picking through the stream and finding the trail was interesting and something different, it did make for slow going. By mile five it was sit down snack time for sure, then forging on (and up + up) to our lunch spot 10 miles in. It’s wild that we were climbing to about 7,000 feet for lunch. It still felt so much like the desert floor. We entered into a burn area around lunch time, which was pretty crazy to see, so many blackened tree trunks and sooty ground. It was a nice spot to lounge for a bit. I found the perfect rock combo to lay across with my feet up while I ate, and enjoyed downing some water as it was the last source for 17 miles. Thankfully it’s cooler weather and more shade, so the dry miles aren’t as hard…it just means a heavy pack.
Clouds started rolling in after lunch which was our cue to start moving again. The afternoon was possibly my favorite all trail. Up high in elevation, there were trees and the smell of pine (man I love that smell), sunshine and a light breeze, views and a nicely graded trail. Still a lot of climbing but something about it all was more enjoyable to me. It was one of those sections where I was curious what was around each bend in the trail, and was excited about hiking in general. I hit a wall the last mile, but that made getting to camp that much sweeter. Hiker hunger seems to be kicking into gear, but I think the cooler weather helps with that too. Sometimes I find myself absentmindedly asking “why am I so hungry” or “why do I feel so tired.” Then I realize, “oh, right”. Something about hiking 20 ish miles a day would probably do that to a person. Just a wild guess though.
One last thing to note – I named my backpack today. It’s not something you can force, it has to come naturally – anyone who has named a car or other non-living item knows this to be true. Jet and I spent a fair amount of time talking about the Oregon Trail this morning…how thru hiking is kind of a similar thing to playing the computer game with all the choices you make and challenges you face (minus, hopefully, the dysentery, losing your oxen, and running out of money parts). Thus, with the game in mind I named my pack Conestoga. As in, the wagon. I mean technically I guess I myself am the wagon but it’s a fitting name for my pack nonetheless. It has everything I need on my journey north. Hooray.
Mile 248.2 to Big Bear, 17.9 Miles
If we want to talk about smooth days on trail, this one takes the cake. By a landslide. The trail was smooth, mostly downhill but not aggressively so. The weather was smooth, sunny and warm with a nice breeze. Our hiking was smooth, steady and even and filled with conversation.
We joked today that 6:30-9:30am is reserved for deep conversation and thought provoking questions, 9-10am for personal reflections, 10-11:30 quiet hiking, and then the afternoon is for music, podcasts, and discussing trashy tv. It’s not something you can plan for but between your mental and physical state, it’s sort of how things play out anyway.
All morning we walked past sweet smelling sage brush and sun soaked pine. It’s so much more familiar for me to be up in terrain like this, with scents and views and plants that aren’t as foreign. And honestly, there’s not much to say about the day of hiking because it went so well. We took an early lunch (but still 10 miles in) around 10:30, sat around for a while just enjoying the creek side space and the sun peaking through the trees. Another 7 miles put us at the trailhead.
We had originally planned to camp here so as to save money and only have a room for one night. However, we did almost 18 miles by 2:30pm without even trying to do so, and made the game time decision to go into town for two nights. With a deal of a room, and a whole lotta time on our hands, it was the best decision. Plus, the smooth theme of the day continued with the easiest of hitches. With the stops we wanted to do before getting to our hotel, we needed three rides and all were basically instantaneous.
The first man, a grandpa, who picked us up was a surprise. Jet and I both said “that car won’t stop, it’s too nice.” But it did. He dropped us off at the post office, I nabbed my resupply box, and then from there we hitched with the first car that passed, since they stopped for us. Two for two. Then, as we were grocery shopping for a few things, a woman asks us if we need a ride to our next place. For some reason having your pack back in a shopping cart in a Vons is a dead giveaway that you’re a hiker? Who knew. It turns out it was Ina Muir (yes, of those Muir’s) who lived in the area and so generously went out of her way to get us to where we were staying. In the process, she also gave us crazy patterned leggings that, while not exactly matching with the clean flannel I had, were perfect for putting on after a fresh shower.
Three for three on hitches, and the icing on top of a seriously well oiled day. Some days are like this, I guess, even when (or maybe because) you don’t plan or expect them to go this way. Burrito, margarita, and chips on chips on chips for dinner. We are hungry hungry hungry.
Now, I sleep. I wonder why it feels so comfy after sleeping on my foam pad for 5 days…
0 Miles In Big Bear Lake
I have a feeling that I won’t be doing a zero like this all the way up trail, but I enjoy it while I can. Sleeping in, having a slow morning, wearing deodorant (men’s, because apparently women’s travel sizes have to be consistently a dollar more expensive?) 🤦🏻♀️
We sit in the laundromat down from our hotel, eating carrots + hummus + the money move – a yellow bell pepper. This is how you take on town chores. I’m ready for clean clothes that look a bit more under the radar than my current outfit – printed leggings and a large flannel shirt that I packed out from Idyllwild. Our day is going to be low key. A few things to do but mostly we will rest, enjoying the slowness of a day off.