Off-trail PCT CA Section C

Nov. 21: Big Bear Lake

For various reasons, it was around 10am by the time I started hiking. The trail was just a slow climb up the side of Delamar Mountain. I stopped for a snack at Delamar Mountain Rd, where a truck was parked and people were coming by looking for the trail.

The day hikers on the trail got thicker on the other side of the mountain, directly proportional to the quality of the view of the lake. I left the trail by accident at one point and had to climb down rocks and ice to get back to it. I left it intentionally at another point to follow a road that seemed to be a shorter walk.

There were huge groups of people passing every minute by the time I stopped on the ridge above the Cougar Crest Trail for lunch. I still managed to mostly avoid getting them in my pictures of the lake.

And then, less than a mile further up the trail, the crowds disappeared again. People were going the other way, having turned around after seeing the vista they came for.

In just 3 more miles, I came to Van Dusen Canyon Road, a closed and icy dirt road that led downhill into Big Bear. An hour later, I was checking into the Motel 6, where I had purchased a night at the highest price I’ve ever paid for a somewhat dingy room with no coffee or shampoo provided. Probably the most I spent on a room on this entire trip. The Big Bear premium at play.

I got a load of laundry into the washer and then the dryer while I showered. As it dried, I set out at sunset on a long walk into Big Bear Lake for some shopping. The outdoor restaurant across the street had a cover band playing an oldies song I knew well setting my fast pace along the roadside as I sang along. My coat was in the dryer, so I had to walk fast to avoid being frozen by the cold night wind off the lake. I stopped at a convenience store just around the corner for a hot coffee to keep me warm as I walked.

After an hour of walking down the highway, I stepped into the Big 5 Sporting Goods to buy some bootlaces to replace the ones I had that were desleeving and therefore hard to tie and keep tied. They were out. So I went a bit further and found a snow sports shop. They sold me a pair for snowboard boots that were fast too long, but I figured I could make them work.

A bit further and I reached Big Bear Brewing Company, a popular, hopping restaurant on a Saturday night. The whole place was wide open and surprisingly crowded for the after times. Temperature checks and masks were on, but no efforts to enforce social distance. Still, I had a nice dinner at the bar and got a really nice Red Ale to go with it.

On the way back to the motel, I stopped at Dollar Tree and then Von’s to buy my resupply. The rest of the trip back, I would have to carry grocery bags in my hands. Thank goodness for the cold wind to numb my hands and the slight buzz of alcohol to keep me from feeling the cold. It surely took just as long to walk back as it had to come out, but I zoned out and focused on power walking so I didn’t notice it going by. Fittingly enough, when I got back to the motel just before 9pm, the cover band across the street was finishing their set with an accurate rendition of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb.

My hannnnnnnds have become comfortably numb.

Me, 2020

I swung by the laundry to pull my clothes from the dryer and scampered up to my exceedingly warm room to get some shut-eye, leaving everything I’d bought there on the floor to deal with in the morning.

Total distance: 22 miles

Trail progress: 10 miles

This business isn’t sure whether it wants to fix cars, wash them, sell beer, or sell ice cream, but it’s definitely all in on catering to furries.

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