Thursday, May 29, 2014

Big Bear to Wrightwood

Day 17:
Last day off in Big Bear. It was great meeting Carlin, Brad and Chuck from "The Broadway Cafe", they were all so friendly and know how to feed a vegetarian. Also enjoyed eating at "No Name Pizza". 

Shins and feet feeling so much better and a big thank you to those people who gave me a ride from and back to the trail.

Day 18:
Started the big trek from Big Bear to Wrightwood from the Hwy 18 PCT trail head after a hearty veggie burrito. 

The scenery was fabulous, looking out over the desert on the right in the beginning and then stunning views of Big Bear lake and the mountains framing it, some of them snowcapped. 

I met "Paint Your Wagon" at Caribou Creek and he said that Maura, Avocado, Sarah, Shoe Tata and Ultra Light who I had met in Cabazon had just passed by. My plan for the day was to make it to Little Bear Spring by nightfall. It was a pleasant hike meandering along mountainside trails, here and there being a little shaded by pine forests, however much of it was burned a few years ago by a careless camper and at times still looks like a pine tree graveyard. 
When I arrived at the horse trail camp, I was the only person there. The spring was dry and the horse water trough empty. I set up camp as it was getting dark and felt uneasy about camping there alone - vulnerable again! No phone reception but fortunately I did have my satellite phone for emergencies and letting people know my location. There was supposed to be a meteor shower tonight but the sky was too cloudy to see it. As I settled down in my cocoon, I heard the crunching sound of footsteps and upon sticking my head out of my tent, I saw another hiker named Dune, so felt much better about camping there. My toes still look bad but are not as painful. I hope they hold out!
I am thankful for
1) Support and encouragement from my loved one
2) Not too many steep ascents and descents today
3) Getting in my planned mileage today
4) Beautiful sunset sky
5) Sleeping easier after the arrival of another hiker at camp.

Day 19:
This day consisted of pleasant, yet hot meandering and boulder hoping along Holcomb Creek and up over the desert hills.

 When I arrived at Deep Creek it was like arriving in a heavenly oasis, so beautiful with cool clean water in a gorge. I immediately took my shoes off and cooled my feet in the creek. Here I met a wonderful family, Erin, Greg and their sons Reed and Blake. They were so interested in what I was doing, friendly and kind and they became my trail angels, giving me beer, apples, cheese puffs, caramel popcorn and cotton candy. I showed the boys how to collect and filter stream water and replenished my water supplies. By 3 pm, I decided to get more mileage done and continued on my journey north along the skinny, canyon wall hugging trail that would last another 15 miles/24km sometimes hundreds of feet above the water. I thought of potentially camping on the river bank at Devil's Hole but there were some rough looking characters there, so I continued on, eventually camping on the trail at sunset in a space tucked into the mountainside. I was exhausted and tomorrow I would reach the hot springs but today I was thankful for:

1) A pleasant stream side hike most of the day.
2) Finally being at streams that actually had water in them.
3) Trail angels Greg, Erin, Reed and Blake.
4) Beer!!! I'm  a wine drinker, I don't normally like beer, but the PCT has changed all that!!
5) Cold apples and popcorn.... Oh yummy for a starving thru hiker! 

Day 20:
The Deep Creek traverse continued. It seemed like a pity that the water was mostly inaccessible as it was many steep feet below me. At one point it meandered down to some hot springs, infamous for it's skinny dippers and historically a hang out for Charles Manson and his followers. I was appalled to see numerous piles of human feces lying around with flapping, used toilet paper. This in combination that the hot springs often contain amoebic bacteria and the fact that my feet were cut up, made me move through there without taking the plunge. More canyon hugging trail ensued and when I finally reached an arched bridge crossing the creek from one side of the canyon to the other, I met other female hikers Saint and Rocky 4. We continued on to the Mojave Dam wall, a huge waterless structure, and suddenly I looked up and saw Abocado, Sarah and Slomo sitting in the shade on the river bank. It was great to see them again! It was here that I drank my second beer that I had been saving from the day before... for lunch! It 7was amazingly refreshing! 
The rest of the afternoon consisted of more scalding switchbacks in 100 plus degrees F. At one point I came across Maura, aka Cat Stealance ( she got this name when a Bobcat stole her food bag), she was sitting beneath the shade of a tree giving moral support to Jolly Llama, who was sweating and painfully passing a kidney stone.
Pressing on, I shared the trail with a coyote for awhile. He was ahead of me, trotting along and looking over his shoulder probably to make sure I was keeping my distance. I met Max and Monique too on my way to Silverwood Lake. I was pushing hard to get there before nightfall. 

It's a cruel joke once you reach the lake, because it's a 4 mile hike around the lake before you get you the camping area. The lake is gorgeous, but I was still on the mountainside trail as the sun was setting, so I started running with Purple Monster on my back. It was crazy and I eventually got to a campsite and set up my tent at 10 pm. The Rangers were so friendly and gave me food and water.
Things I am grateful for:
1) Doing so many miles today and feeling stronger.
2) Hiking with a coyote
3) Stunning Silverwood Lake and the wonderful Rangers
4) I figured out how to make Purple Monster more comfortable by tightening all the straps and having it more snug.
5) The PCT has enabled me to enjoy a beer!

Day 21:
 Wow! Three weeks on the trail already!
I hardly slept last night as some type of crazy alarm was going off all night long. I eventually left the Rangers office at 9am after charging up my phones in their office and " talking story". It was a very long and hot journey in out out of canyons and along more never ending switchbacks over mountains with complete sides collapsed and eroded on the San Andreas Fault, with spectacular views of the mountains and desert beyond.

 I met up with a Canadian couple I had met before using their Golite umbrellas as sunshields.

 My lesson on the trail today was:
The trail mimics life. If you have too many expectations you will only be disappointed. Rather go with the flow, be in the moment and celebrate those unexpected gifts of wonder that come your way.

By 3pm, I arrived at the infamous McDonalds near the bridge at Hwy 15. 

I have never purchased food at McD before in my life, now that has changed. Pure survival kicked in and I stuffed myself with a veggie wrap, fries, 2 orange juices, 2 cokes, a McFlurry and cone ice cream.

 I reunited with so many fellow hikers I had met before and we formed a smelly, motley crew, colonizing a few tables. It was time to hit the trail again by 6 pm to get more miles done so that I could reach Wrightwood by the following day. As I walked towards the bridge leading to the trail I was happy to see Jolly Llama arrive. He had passed his kidney stone and was now looking jolly!

I hiked for another two hours, under a highway, under and across a railway line, 

up over hills, past the famous Mormon Rocks

 and found a hidden spot to solo camp that night in a dried stream bed wedged behind a bush.

Today I am thankful for:
1) my shins and toes feeling better
2) the invention of the automobile
3) wind - it took a lot of the misery out of the intense heat today
4)facebook - being able to keep so many friends ip to date
5) Smartphones- my lifeline to those important to me

Day 22:
Yay! Reached Wrightwood at mile 369/594km. It is a picturesque little mountain village located at 5935ft on Wright Mountain, established in the 1920's as a winter ski vacation destination. This morning I packed up camp early and spent the day climbing mountains up switchbacks up to almost 9000ft. 

I had numerous snake encounters along the way. 

It was an extremely long, hot day with lots of incredibly beautiful views from   the top of the world.

 I ran out of water 3 miles out of Wrightwood, but made in down the steep Acorn Trail fine and booked a room at a funny little motel called The Pines, which is extremely hiker friendly. I caught up with numerous trail buddies in the evening which was fun, soaked my feet in a bucket of epsom salts and crashed early.

Day 23:
I had a zero day in Wrightwood and picked ip my resupply box from the post office. Wonderful to have a good supply of food again. I was impressed with what I had mailed to myself. Tomorrow I set out towards Agua Dulce, almost 100 miles away with no towns in between. 


  1. Yo Heather! It was great to meet you. What an incredible journey you are on. We enjoy keeping up with your adventure and will continue praying for your safety and health along the way. Don't forget to say hi to my friend in Agua Dulce.
    Take care!
    Greg, on behalf of Erin me and the boys
    Also, drop us a line at my email so we can stay in touch. It is my first and last name all together

  2. It is San Andres Fault

  3. I just found this blog but your posts about the pct are so inspiring! I hope to do some of it one day. Take care!

    1. Thank you so much! I am very happy that you've enjoyed reading them. Aloha.