Saturday, May 14, 2011

My attempted "Farewell to the PCT hiker bum years" hike

I recently got a real job so with a little time between jobs I decided to do a section of the PCT. Sort of a farewell since it will be a while before I can do a long distance hike again. I decided to hike from Big Bear to Interstate 15.

I parked my car at Swarthout Canyon Road where the PCT begins its long climb to Wrightwood. Then The Man and I drove to Big Bear. The plan was to hike from Highway 18 back to my car. In 2008 I had skipped the 8 miles between Highway 18 and Van Deusen Road and this was my chance to fix that. All the rest of the trip was just an opportunity to spend 5 days on the PCT. Very little seemed to remain in my memory from this section, so I was looking forward to seeing what I had forgotten.

When we parked the car, two hikers emerged from the trail. They had just done 20 miles before noon. Wow! The Man and I had been debating whether we should get a good lunch in Big Bear and these two hikers gave us an excuse to go get lunch. We drove them into town and we all ate lunch at Thelmas. Then we headed back to the trailhead and began our hike.

We hiked to just a little beyond Van Deusen Road, just a bit more than 8 miles and found a sheltered place to camp a little off the trail. There was mountain mahogany, juniper, cedar, pines and firs. It was a pretty area that reminded me of the Pine Mountain Lodge area near Ojai. Just before camp we spotted a large group of hikers camped below Van Deusen Road. They were talking about how much they had drunk in Big Bear and they had wine with them and planned to do more drinking. We decided that they might be a little too noisy to camp near so that is why we went a little further to our secluded campsite.

As I lay in our tent I pondered that for some reason I felt no kinship with the other hikers we had met. Was it because with my new job coming I am moving on? Or was it because I hiked so much of the PCT alone I just don't get the "herd" mentality? Perhaps it was both. I really wanted one last chance to live on the trail. The trail has been so much a part of me and my life. It changed me in some ways. I really felt like I did not want to say good-bye. I went to sleep happy to be here, home.

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