The trail around Big Bear is lush and smells of alpine. It is absolutely nothing like toilet cleaner - I’ve been lied to!
Although sometimes craggy, the trail has long tranches of being soft underfoot. Even better, it is devoid of sudden uphills and downhills, but rather mostly moseys along at circa 7,000ft. Even better, the heat wave has buggered off, so although warm around noon and early afternoon, it was noticeably less furnace-like than last week.
That, combined with the fact that I gorged on potatoes and eggs, and eggs and potatoes, and some pizza and some cake and finally some fresh fruit during my foray into the town for resupply, means I have some oompf in my legs. I overnighted at “Kenny’s” a random man’s house with fifteen other hikers, some of whom I have previously met! It was nice to launder my clothes, shower in hot water and sleep in a bed.
But….it’s great to be back on trail. I didn’t fall over. My feet don’t hurt much. No bees have attacked me. I could have actually chosen to camp with other people for once - but keen to reduce my deficit, I pressed on. So I’m alone, on top of a hill, somewhere around Big Bear. Hope the bear is long gone.
Not one, but two rattlesnakes today - both of the yearling variety - supposedly the most volatile. Even managed to photograph them both.
Met up with an amazing couple, one fifty-something, t’other sixty-summat and both walking at a pace that I can keep up with. I’ve hiked with them all afternoon. He’s a graduate of the Appalachian Trail, but for both of them, this is their second attempt at the PCT. She was helicoptered off injured last year. He hobbled off. For some reason, they let me lead the way all the time…
The chat is near constant, and almost all centres around food! We all agree that the food on trail is revolting, and then we talk about the best food we’ve ever eaten. It’s a sort of torment, but it not half passes the time. It’s nice to be around people again.
Staying at a lovely spot - like a beach tonight, having trotted out 17 miles today, mostly in the right direction. I even allowed myself an ‘early’ finish of 5pm.
A day of bridges, which was handy, but didn’t stop me from having to wade two rivers. Actually, it was the same river, but crossed in different locations.
And in other exciting news, I nearly stepped on a baby rattlesnake, walked eighteen miles, and had my tent collapse three times before I’d finished my dinner. I moved my tent to a better spot.
I also managed to catch up with The Machine with an infinite number of blisters that is Snacksize: a very diminutive woman of sixty-two, and Joyrider. It only took me nine hours, and only because they had had a break for two hours plus! Tomorrow we’re hiking out again tomorrow - well they are, I shall mostly be gasping and flustering.
Sooo, the plan was to try to do twenty miles today. We’ve been nudging that way for a while so it seemed feasible.
Plan went awry: Snacksize is off injured with horrific infected blisters, she hitched into Cajon Pass and will rest up for a few days, leaving me and Joyrider to complete the walking part.
Twenty-four miles later, I’m too nurturing blisters. There was an up, and some more up, then some down, then some down down and not a single damned space to plonk a tent, let alone two. On the plus, it means we’ve a meagre seven miles to get to Cajon Pass tomorrow. On the negative, I’m not sure I can walk! I’m so shattered I think I’m too tired to sleep.
Following a 4:30am wake-up holler from Joyrider, I staggered the seven miles into Cajon Pass for a McDonalds. I kid you not. Then rushed around doing all the usual ‘town day’ activities - alas no washing machine, so hand-washing desert-dusty clothing; washing my hair, alas without shampoo so used soap (sob); buying a week’s worth of food; wincing at the hideous eight-mile, 5000ft climb awaiting me tomorrow with a 22 mile water carry (sob, sob) and eating my body-weight in more take-aways.