Mile 266, Big Bear City.
I camped at about 7500 feet so this morning was understandably chilly. 33 degrees to be precise.
I lolligagged in my sleeping bag until about 8 this morning. I had a short day ahead of me as I had 10 miles to hike into big bear to resupply.
Camped next to me was an old timer and his dog named Bob. For whatever reason I never caught his name. He chatted me up most of the morning. He told tales of hiking many of the eastern United States including the AT. He struck me as someone who spends most of his life on trail.
I made breakfast and broke camp. I enjoyed the slow pace of the morning. Normally I move with a purpose first thing, but today was different.
I filled several liters from a “faucet” used for filling a horse trough. Above it a sign was posted, “water not tested, drink at your own risk.”
Nothing new to me. I’ve filtered and treated water from worse sources. This was a relatively easy water source to get water from. It was a faucet. It didn’t require me to submerge a bottle, along with my hand, in a snow melt stream where the temperature was just above freezing. It didn’t require a half mile hike on a side trail down the side of a mountain to get water from a “spring” only to discover the water to taste like garden house. No, today I used a faucet. What a fantastic invention.
I filtered the water. Only three liters today. I said goodbye to the old timer and Bob and hit the trail.
Today the trail remained relatively flat with a few ups and downs. Going into big bear I dropped 700 feet over 8 miles. Very gentle grade.
About 7 miles into my hike I saw a small pack of wild donkeys. 4 in total. They were meandering along the trail. When they saw me they scurried about 50 yards down trail. We played this game for about 15 minutes. They seemed uninterested in leaving the trail. Eventually they turned south and left the trail.
The remaining miles were uneventful. I ran across three small groups of day hikers. Two of them with kids. Good for their folks getting their kids outdoors.
I arrived at the intersection of HWY 18 and the PCT. There was a sign posted by a couple of local trail Angels that offered ride into big bear. I gave the number a called. “Papa Smurf” answered. I inquired about a ride into big bear. Unfortunately he and the family were off the mountain and wouldn’t be back until Thursday. He said it would be difficult to hitch a ride into town. Somewhat deflated I hung up the phone. I hoped it would be easy.
I started walking toward the packing lot just as a Subaru pulled over on the opposing side of the street. A young guy in his 20s motioned me over. He and his female companion were looking for good trails in the area. They asked about the trail I had just come off of. I told them it was the PCT. They asked how long it was. I said, well hiking back the way I came will take you all the way to Mexico. They seemed a little baffled.
After another minute of chatting I asked if they were heading into big bear. They said, ” yeah, do you need a ride?”
I said, ” Sure if it’s no trouble. But I do have to warn you, I’ve been on trail of 6 days. I will likely be offense to your olfactory sense.”
They said, “no problem, get in.”
We hadn’t as soon pulled away before she said, “Oh my god! You weren’t kidding!! You REEK!” And then busted out laughing.
We exchanged a few jokes about how bad I smelt. They were fascinated by the trail. The miles into big bear lake went quickly. As we pulled up to my stop, I offered them money for gas. The guy replied, “No thanks, we work on karma.”
I thanked them again and headed into the restaurant I wanted to eat out. Unfortunately, they close at 2 and it was 1:57. The sent me away. Based on my attire and smell, I would have sent me away too!
I walked a few blocks and found a restaurant with a patio. I asked to sit outside as not to offend any other patrons with my manly aroma, rather pure stink.
The owner walked by and asked if I was hiking the trail. I said yes. She commented she thought it was really early to start. I agreed and added, “the weather has been mild this year. There’s not a lot of snow on the trail to contend with.”
I will pick up my resupply tomorrow first thing. But for now I’m off to a motel for a shower.