Beck vs Day 15

248.3 – Big Bear Lake

Another early start! It’s a town day and probably a hot one so I want to go as far as possible before the heat sets in.

I’m planning on taking a proper zero (zero miles walked) in Big Bear Lake – my first day off in two weeks!! my feet and knees are very excited.
I pass the saddest of sad sights on the PCT – a zoo where a bunch of animals from Hollywood films have basically been caged up to die.  They are kept in horribly small wire cages in the sun and it is very sad to see. I try and take a few photos but a big German Shephard and sign saying “armed response” make me not get too close.

It’s a lovely wooded walk, and on top off a hill there is a water cache! One of the local Big Bear trail angels maintains this one and it is very much appreciated. A drink up a little and head on a few more miles, going pretty speedily.  Then – more trail magic!  A big container with information on the Big Bear Hostel and A COUCH!  Things to sit on are amazing out here. I spend way too much time evaluating boulders for their sitting comfort.  A five star boulder has a nice angle, a boulder behind to lean on and a rock in front for your feet. Most I find, however, are about 2 stars. Making the couch about a billion stars.  I take a photo of me on the couch as requested by the magic -maintainers and send it in, only to get a response that the hostel is closed for the week so I’ll have to figure out another place to stay.

Somehow I’ve miscalculated the amount of water I need, or I am drinking too much because I only have a tiny bit left and still a few miles to town. Of course in the hottest part of the day and the trail is now going through a sandy hot exposed area. One sip every 15 minutes. I try and walk faster so that I can get off the mountain. One sip. I have one more down and then a little up and I can have one more sip. One sip. I stop for a few breaths in every tiny patch of shade I can find. One sip. I dream of trail magic. I visualize a stand with lemonade around the corner. Even better – Arnold Palmer. A magic invention of half real lemonade and half iced tea. Well done America.  One sip.
I come around the last bend and I can see the carpark at the trailhead!  YAY!  My dizzy head marches on and as the trail descends there is WATER! Hot, but wet and perfect.  I gulp some down and race to the carpark as there is a car waiting in the lot that I can hopefully hitch with.

Noone in the car and I wander around dazed and hot and dehydrated trying to figure out which way I need to hitch. A car pulls up and some hikers fall out – the fabulous Jose is the driver and takes me back with him into town!  I find a hotel with a bathtub. A BATHTUB. Amazing. The only information I need.

Now I am still in a daze but I’m standing in a beautifully cool shower. I’m too exhausted to stand so I sit and let the water run over me while I attack the layer upon layer of dirt that turns the water into coffee. I scrub for what seems hours and finally feel in a respectable state. I mentally catalogue all the new bumps and bruises and cuts and injuries that I have no recollection of making. It’s strange how little I look at myself out here. Or maybe strange how much we look at ourselves in “normal life.”

Now I’m not on the trail but have somehow stumbled down the road for the next town chore – laundry. The room is hot, I’m wearing my rain gear and whir of the machines is putting me to sleep. I try and send emails and chat to people with my phone plugged into the wall… and it takes all my effort to keep my eyes open.

I need food and it is now dinner time. Where does the time go in town??? I find a Himalayan restaurant and eat  some lovely veggies before stumbling back to the hotel. There is a magic device that controls a screen in the corner of the room. I lie in bed for too long flicking through and watching nothing until I fall asleeeeeeeeep. zzzzzzz.

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