Installment #10 - May 11, 1999 - Big Bear City!
I'm out of the woods and standing in front of a gas station in Big Bear City! Saturday night at 11:15 or so I left San Jose on the bus for Los Angeles, and from there on to Palm Springs. The driver was kind enough to let me out at the exit closest to the Trail. I got off the bus and nearly got blown over! They have lots of windmills - lots of windmills in that pass, and with good reason - it's windy!
I rehiked the little section of trail back to Don Middleton's cabin, left a message for Don that I was back on the trail again, and then hit the trail at about 11AM. I experimented with my boots - I tried thin socks, I tried thick socks, and eventually I took the boots off and put on my new running shoes, and from there on I was fine. I'm wearing thin nylon socks, which is what I'd been wearing, but my new running shoes have more padding than my old ones. I'll keep trying my boots, but I have nine days to the next resupply, and if I can't get used to my boots by then, I'll send them home.
Anyway, I made about 13 miles on Sunday. And then Monday I got about 22 miles, and a lot of that was uphill - we went from around 4000 feet up to around 8500 or so. I passed a couple on the trail that had met each other while hiking on the Appalachian trail independently, got married, and now they're doing the PCT for their honeymoon. [A comment is clearly called for here, but I couldn't think of one that wouldn't offend the hiking fanatics reading this.] We started off in the desert, but as we passed 7000 feet or so we got up into the pines with some nice cool temperatures. There was very little snow - almost none at all, and it's because there are mountains to the west of us that apparently catch all of the weather.
On the second night, I got to Coon Creek. There's a campground there with an old building that had no doors or windows, but I was able to go in the building and spread out my sleeping bag and sleep there. That's where Ron Vaughn caught up with me - Ron is a guy that had read and been influenced by the same book I had - "Living the American Dream - How To Retire At Age 35". He came a little closer than I will - he retired at 45. He has no home, has all his stuff in a storage box, and he's out here hiking the PCT and next year plans to do the Continental Divide Trail.
Today, we hiked on down to Big Bear. We went by the "zoo" - all those wild animals we were warned about, and I've got some pictures of a couple of lions and a bear or two. Previous to this leg, lots of people had seen rattlesnakes, but I hadn't seen any. On this leg, I ran into two! On Monday I saw probably a three-footer or so with a pretty good rattle - made a lot of racket. I got a picture of him but it probably didn't come out very well because he was in the shadow. [Plus he was probably running too fast.] The other one was just a little baby that I saw today, didn't make any noise.
To get into Big Bear City from the Trail, we got to the road and stuck our thumbs out. 45 minutes later, we were still there and Rebecca and Donna came up behind us, stuck their thumbs out, and somebody stopped. They graciously gave the first car to us, figuring that they could hitchhike more easily than we could. [Insert your own social commentary here.] But all four of us made it to the Post Office, got our stuff, went down to the Fire Station and there was another hiker there, so there were five of us getting our laundry done. We all got showers in the men's room at the Fire Station [hmmmm...] and I'll be camped on the Fire Station lawn tonight, and then head out tomorrow morning.
If you stop and think, of the 22 days that I've been on the trail so far, 11 of them were rest days - 3 days in Idyllwild and 8 days at home and on the bus. That's a pretty lousy record, but I think I'm learning what my mistakes are. I'm stopping a lot and taking care of my feet - change socks, stick my feet in a stream. Yesterday and today - no blisters!
Allen has already taken a big chunk out of Chapter C, and you can track his progress now on the Chapter C Map.
Allen finished the previous installment by saying, "My next report should be from Big Bear City about 13 May." Well, it's 11 May and he's in Big Bear! Looks like he was being a little conservative. Allen was in great spirits when he called, his feet are behaving, and he's having a good time again!
Added from scans of Allen's slides on June 3:
Looking north toward Interstate 10
Windmills in San Gorgonio Pass
Added from scans of Allen's slides on June 8:
Windmills at San Gorgonio Pass
My tent pitched for the night
Cabin at Coon Creek where I spent the night
Looking north toward Big Bear City
Leaving Big Bear City Fire Station