Day 19: Big Bear Lake

Start: Mile 256.2 Arrastre Trail Camp

End: Mile 266.1 Junction Highway 18

It was COLD last night. I am a cold sleeper and had to wear all my layers including my puffy jacket and I was still cold. Donna didn’t wear her puffy but she was curled up under her down quilt all night long.

There were at least ten other tents in our camp area last night and we were one of the last to get on the trail this morning. And we were hiking by 7:10am. A lot of hikers were motivated to get into Big Bear today and enjoy hot food from a restaurant and sleep in a bed. Also, a lot of hikers needed to get to the post office to pick up their re-supply package by noon, otherwise they would have to wait until Monday. We were being picked up at noon by our good friends Rob and Stacy so our morning was more leisurely.

As we hiked this morning we enjoyed views of the local landscape and towards the desert east of the Big Bear. Even though we are at 7000+ feet of elevation the trail still had a distinct desert feel to it.

We enjoyed a snack and rest break under a Juniper Tree.

After four-plus hours we reached Highway 18 where Rob & Stacy we’re waiting.

There was also some trail magic (hot dogs and drinks) from Trail Angels. And we took a PCT survey by a graduate student from Utah.

That’s Kensey on the right – she is the graduate student doing the PCT survey. Dylan is on the right (her boyfriend) made the hot dogs. Thanks Kensey and Dylan!

It was good to see Rob and Stacy. They have a friend who has a cabin in Big Bear so we went there for the night. It’s always good to take a shower, do some laundry and have a bed to sleep in. Also Rob is a great cook and a wine collector so we enjoyed a good dinner of pasta and sausage with red sauce and bottle of 2005 Cabernet. Now you know why we have been looking forward to seeing Rob and Stacy!😊

After dinner we watched a DVD (The Hostiles) – it was good.

Thanks for following our PCT adventure.

Day 18: March Towards Big Bear

Start: Mile 239.9 Mission Camp

End: Mile 256.2 Arrastre Trail Camp

The trend continued this morning: up at dawn and on the trail hiking by 7am. It was again another beautiful morning.

Yesterday we had gained most of the needed elevation to reach Big Bear Lake. Today the trail would have a few ups and downs but mainly the trail traversed around the south-eastern end of the San Bernardino Mountains. We still had twenty-six miles to hike before reaching Highway 18 where we would meet our good friends Rob and Stacy. As we hiked, we had views looking back towards Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.

We walked across our first snow patch.

And we had views of the moon setting over Mt. San Gorgonio.

We reached one viewpoint on the trail where we had 180 degree views.

As our day continued we passed by a private facility that houses trained wild animals for movies. We had heard that there was a lion, tiger and grizzly bear but we only saw the bear.

It was sad to see such a large and beautiful animal in such a small cage. There was a posted sign, however, that the animals were being moved to a new location with more space for the animals to live. Hopefully that is true. The property was for sale also.

As we got closer to Big Bear the trail paralleled Highway 38 (Rim of the World Scenic Byway) for several miles and we could hear cars zooming by.

And we saw this posting for the local Big Bear Trail Angels.

Then we reached Arrastre Trail Camp which had multiple tent sites, a couple of picnic tables and nearby water (sorry I forgot to get a photo). And we enjoyed another delicious trail dinner.

Thanks for reading.

Day 17: Up Mission Creek

Start: Mile 227.2 Mission Creek Campsite

End: Mile 239.9 Mission Camp

This morning we were up and out of the tent before 6am and on the trail at 6:45am. It was another beautiful morning.

We knew that today would be a big uphill climb. Our goal was to get to Big Bear Lake in two more days where we would be meeting our good friends Rob and Stacy. Big Bear Lake is about 6600 feet in elevation but the trail would climb to over 8700 feet in order to get there. Yesterday we started out at 1300 feet in Cabazon. We were starting today at 3400 feet. At the end of the day we would be over 7900 feet, a total of 4500 feet uphill today.

We camped last night at the trails first crossing of Mission Creek. Today our hike would follow this creek for at least ten miles and would criss-cross it at least a dozen times, maybe more.

At least we would not have to carry a lot of water like during some of the waterless stretches in the desert!

The first ten miles of today’s hike was a steady and gradual climb – not too steep but consistently up.

As you can see it was still a desert scrub environment.

Towards the end of the day the trail got steeper and we entered into an area of a previous fire.

Finally we reached Mission Camp which is where we were going to camp for the night. When I walked down to the spring to fill up our water containers, I heard a dog barking from one of the tents. I went over to say hello and met “Walk About Jim” from Tennessee and his two dogs Baby and Bumpkin. Donna was able to get some puppy love on the trail.

What’s amazing is that Walk About Jim and his two dogs had hiked here from the southern border and were planning on going all the way to Canada!!!

We set up our tent, had dinner and were under our down quilts by hiker midnight (again). Tomorrow we will continue our hike towards Big Bear Lake.

Thanks for following.

Day 16: Whitewater Preserve

Start: Mile 209.5 Interstate 10

End: Mile 227.2 Mission Creek Campsite

After showering and having a good nights sleep at Morongo Resort and Casino, we were up at 5:30am in preparation for our ride back to the trail at 6:30am. We looked out the window and it was raining. Bummer. We called James, our driver, and delayed our pick-up until 8am when it was supposed to be clearing up.

James is relative of our daughter-in-law Tahnee. James lives on the reservation and was happy to pick us up and drive us back to where we had exited the PCT the previous day. Here is a picture of James and Donna:

Thank you James for all your help! It’s really a huge help when hikers have Trail Angel support leaving and returning to the trail.

It had stopped raining when we started our hike but it was still overcast and chilly.

The trail headed north from Interstate 10 for a few miles and then turned east and traveled adjacent to the Mesa Wind Farm.

The people that work at the Wind Farm are hiker friendly and provide shade and water. They also have a break room that hikers are welcome to enjoy. The break room has snack foods like micro-waveable breakfast burritos, egg & sausage sandwiches, chips, candy bars, energy drinks and coffee that hikers can purchase for a nominal price. Donna and I both enjoyed a breakfast sandwich and some cold water. Here’s a photo of the Mesa Wind Farm from the trail.

As we headed north away for the Wind Farm we slowly started increasing our elevation and we had nice views back towards the wind turbines.

We passed beautiful desert flowers.

and entered the San Gorgonio Wilderness.

After several hours we reached the Whitewater Preserve where we ran into Dana, one of our recent trail aquantances.

Then we enjoyed lunch just off the trail.

As we continued higher we had nice views back towards Mt. San Jacinto. It’s amazing that we were just there two days ago.

After a few more hours of hiking we reached our campsite at first, of many, crossings of Mission Creek. In total we came up in elevation a little over 2000 feet today. Tomorrow we will hike significantly higher so we were in bed at hiker midnight (sundown) and got a good nights sleep.

Thanks for following our PCT journey.

Day 15: All Downhill

Start: 190.5 Trailside Camp

End: 209.5 Interstate 10

It was a cold night last night at 7700 feet elevation and we both slept with our down jackets on under our down quilts. We stayed warm but there was ice on our tent and ice crystals in our water containers when we climbed out of the tent at 6am. We were happy to see blue skies overhead.

It was still cold when we started hiking at 7am. We were still in all our layers including our down jackets. Our hike today would be 19 miles long and go down in elevation to about 1300 feet – a drop of 6400 feet. Donna’s right knee doesn’t do well when there is a lot of downhill so today would be a challenging day for her.

As we slowly and consistently worked our way down the mountain we enjoyed nice views across the valley towards Mount San Gorgonio, the highest mountain in Southern California at 11,503.In a few days, after we work our way down this mountain (Mt. San Jacinto) and bottom out in Cabazon, we will then start to work our way up and around the southern side of Mt. San Gorgonio and towards Big Bear Lake. But I’m getting ahead of the present days challenges.

As you remember, we filled up with water yesterday at mile 186. The next water source was at mile 206, so our packs felt heavy this morning. As we moved down the mountain, we stopped on several occasions to remove layers as we warmed up. We also enjoyed breakfast – cold oats for Donna and a ProBar for Todd. Yum! Gotta love that trail food.

Soon we started to enjoy views towards the valley floor where I-10 and Cabazon were.Then we passed mile 200As we dropped down the mountain, we enjoyed fine views back towards the north side of Mt. San Jacinto.We enjoyed lunch on a rock with a view.And said hello to fat lizards as we passed by.Finally we reached the water faucet at mile 205.7.But we still had 3.8 miles on road and then trail to get to the I-10 underpass. We were walking directly into what felt like 40mph winds.We enjoyed a rainbow.

And finally reached the I-10 underpass.

Where we were picked up by Donna’s brother (Jody) and his wife (Kathy) who live about 30 minutes away in Thousand Palms, near Palm Springs. Soon we were at In & Out enjoying burgers and fries, where we’re also met by Donna’s sister (Jeanne) and her husband (Bob).

It was good to visit with family for a while. Jeanne and Bob brought our re-supplies for the next few days of hiking and Jody and Kathy brought us a nice bottle of wine to enjoy tonight in the nearby Morongo Resort & Casino. It’s always good to sleep in a bed and we will continue to take advantage of these opportunities when they present.

Thanks for following.

Day 14: Race to Beat the Storm

Start: Mile 179.4 Devils Slide/PCT Junction

End: Mile 190.5 Trailside Campsite

During our two zero days in Idyllwild we became aware that there was a potential snow storm in a few days. Many hikers were leaving a day earlier than what we had planned. Since we had rented a VRBO and planned to spend a few days with our son and his wife and our youngest grandson, we stuck with our original game plan. But we were a little nervous about the upcoming weather.

Trail Angel Bob and his Trail Angel Dog named Rusty picked us up at the VRBO at 6:30am. We were at the Devils Slide Trailhead in ten minutes.It was a chilly morning – probably in the upper 30’s but the trail was uphill from the start so we warmed up quickly. The trail went up over 1600 feet in 2.5 miles and intersected the PCT. It was good to be back on the official Pacific Crest Trail. As we continued to increase in elevation we had great views of Suicide Rock:And Tahquitz Rock:Both of these rocks are major rock climbing destinations that many elite rock climbers have climbed. Our son Blake has spent many days climbing on these rocks over the past fifteen years.

Although it was a beautiful morning, Donna and I were concerned about the upcoming weather front and wanted to get past Fuller Ridge. We could feel that the air was thinner as we reached 9000 feet in elevation a couple of times over several miles. Many PCT hikers take a side trail to climb to the top of Mt. San Jacinto which is 10,834 feet. Since Donna and I had climbed this peak on four or five occasions we stayed on the official PCT trail. As we hiked across the five mile Fuller Ridge traverse we could see the weather moving in.At Mile 183, just prior to the start of Fuller Ridge, we filled up with water. We wouldn’t have the opportunity for more water for over twenty miles so we loaded up. At mile 190.5 we reached the campground at Black Mountain Road. There were picnic tables and many protected campsites. It was getting cold and windy. We would have liked to push on for a few more miles and drop down in elevation but were concerned that any lower campsites may be more exposed to the weather. We decided to stay at the higher elevation (7700 feet) but protected campsites. We set up the tent quickly and were soon inside our sleeping bags and enjoying dinner.

Thanks for following our PCT adventure.

Day 12 & 13: Zero Days

A zero day is when you don’t hike any PCT trail miles. Since we live in Southern California we had planned on taking zeros on these two days. We rented a VRBO in Idyllwild and our oldest son (Blake) and daughter-in-law (Tahnee) and our youngest grandson (Elias) joined us for the two rest days. It was great to have a few days off and to see some of our family.