Wednesday, May 14, 2014

From desert into snow; from heat into cold

I made it to Big Bear Lake at PCT mile 266, which marks the 10 % marker for the entire trail. I think that's good news, but I really like the part that there's still 90 % left, and more than 400 miles of desert hiking have yet to be conquered.

Since I left Julian there was quite a variety of landscapes. From dreadfully hot, waterless stretches that are sometimes up to 20 miles long into mountains of almost 11,000 ft in elevation. On one day you're hiking in desert heat, begging for some shade which is impossible to find; the next day you're walking on fresh snow on top of one of Southern California's highest summits. And then back into the desert again.

At mile 151 I hitched into Idyllwild where I took my first real zero-mile-day. Rain clouds got stuck in the mountains for the day, so I figured it'd be wise to wait out the rain (and snow on the upcoming higher elevations). San Jacinto peak was waiting for me when I got back to the trail. The hike up to the summit was tough, but rewarding. At 10,834 ft (3,302 m) this also marked the highest mountain I've ever climbed so far. The summit offered views of the the valleys almost two miles below. That night we camped in temperatures barely above freezing point, just a couple of miles from the peak, so the next day consisted of 20 miles of downhill hiking. Coming down the mountainside took us an entire day, and it was terribly hot. At noon I started looking out for some shade to take my lunch break. After about two hours I found a small boulder with enough shade to keep my upper body out of the sun for a few minutes. Jackpot!

By the time I made it to Ziggy & The Bear (trail angels who let hikers camp in their backyard) I was totally worn out, but this massive change in elevation didn't stop for another three days. After leaving their home we climbed back up to about 9000 ft.

On May 12 I started hiking at 5:50 in the morning. We wanted to make it into Big Bear Lake for breakfast, a hike of 7.5 miles to the highway. On that day my breakfast on the trail consisted of a tiny piece of cheese and a granolar bar. So when I arrived at the Grizzly Manor Café for some real food, my eyes were bigger than my stomach once again. I ordered a meal called "The Polar Bear": a big plate of hashbrowns, eggs and bacon, and two pancakes the size of a frying pan on a separate plate. I finished the first part, but could only eat half of the pancakes. Without doubt the meal was delicious, but the amount of food I ate this morning made me feel really sick. For the first time I had to surrender, but don't worry; my hiker hunger is back to normal now ;-)

That's it for the moment. I wish I had more time to tell you about all those exciting stories out here, but time is a factor. I know it's a big bummer that I wasn't able to upload any pictures yet. Things aren't as comfortable out here as they are at home. Stay tuned, I still hope I'll find the time to post some photos soon.

Next stop will be Wrightwood, CA.


  1. So great to finally see your post...I look forward to hearing what you think of the Pacific NW. I live in Oregon. I look forward to seeing your pictures too. Enjoy!!!

  2. hey cheesie, I'm really happy you made it out of SanDiego soon enough as I heard this morning about the fires there and was a bit worried ...
    we miss you at work but I guess you enjoy the better part of life just this moment so keep on hiking and blogging, hugs, bine