I recently found myself working for a couple weeks down in Socal staying just an hour from the PCT. So, on one of my days off, I headed up to Big Bear and hike some miles on the PCT.
I headed up last Saturday, driving through the hills above San Bernardino. It is a significant climb up some nice windy roads with great views. People drive fast here, however, and the 1980s Toyota pickup I was driving, along with my slow natured driving was probably the source of some cursing folks caught behind me. Oh well.
It had been warm down in the Inland Empire of California, but up at the PCT, the weather was stellar. Temps in the 60s with a nice breeze, perfect. Surprisingly, there were very few day hikers out on the trail.
Deep down, I think I was yearning to see some thru hikers out on the trail. There is plenty of hiking in the San Bernardino National Forest, but I was pretty drawn to the PCT. I have hiked that same section twice before (2012 & 2016 thru hikes) so I wasn’t exploring any new territory. However, reconnecting in person with people that are still on a similar journey to the one that we just finished was really appealing.
And… I am so glad I went up there. I felt a flood of memories as I walked throughout the day. I recalled in 2012; seeing Spork and Chimp (two guys we met while hiking the AT in 2011); Qball losing his cell phone; a rattlesnake that didn’t want us to pass. Then in 2016; saying goodbye to Lid; feeling super rejuvenated after a two day break in town ; an excellent hammock spot ; meeting G String; and just a generally great day of walking with SweetPea. It felt really good to have all these memories come back so freely and vividly. That alone was worth the drive.
About an hour in, I ran into two thru hikers. I was so psyched to see some Sobos! I knew the chance was there, but it would be slim, since by this point in the trail it would really be just the earlier finishers. I had picked up some bags of m&m’s just in case I could do some mini trail magic. Griz and Gaucha had been moving along at a pretty good pace and we’re hoping to finish the last few hundred miles in 8 days.
Later in the hike, I ran into Mr. Z. I actually saw Mr. Z up in Oregon around Fish Lake. What are the chances that I would see him in my 4 hour day hike? Here is the funny part. It is the third time on a big trail that I have seen Mr Z. Sweetpea and I first met him in 2011 when we were staying at a hostel in New Jersey on the AT.
What a great day. Even a 13 mile day hike can be memorable 🙂