Day 16: Marathon Into Big Bear

Total miles: 26.2 miles 

Start: Mission Camp (mile 239.9)

End: Big Bear Lake (mile 266.1)

Total elevation gain/loss: 3334.3/4444.9ft

We were up before the sun again at 4:30 to greet another beautiful morning. This morning took us up and down the mountains surrounding Big Bear. We encountered more signs about the fire today, but they only added to our confusion about what the camping restriction was supposed to mean. 

Sign suggests camping is allowed…


It’s nice to be back in the trees again! At the top of some of the ridge lines it really felt like I was on top of the world.

Pictures don’t do the view justice. I practically did a happy dance it was so breathtaking.


We managed another 10×10 today (10 miles by 10am) and stopped to get water shortly thereafter at a pump that someone installed to help out PCT hikers. It was wonderful!


We were on a roll this morning. The miles felt easy despite the up and down and we both had good energy. Shortly after getting water we came upon a grizzly bear! In a cage. A small cage. Felt sort of bad for the guy. I guess it’s some kind of private zoo.


After about 13 miles we came upon some wonderful trail magic provided by the Big Bear Hostel. A dumpster full of cold sodas and snacks… and a couch to relax on! Divine!!

Not sure which was more dirty — me or the couch.


We stopped for lunch at a backcountry camp, complete with shade and picnic tables! Due to our higher elevation today, the weather is much cooler and walking has been much more enjoyable. No need for a siesta today!


Since we’d walked 16 miles by lunch, we had a decision to make: hike another 10 miles to make it into Big Bear tonight or stop before town to camp. We have to be in Big Bear by noon tomorrow in order to pick up a car rental so that we can drive to LA and hop on a flight to D.C. on Friday for our good friends’ wedding. I had assumed that since we’d be off trail for a few days we wouldn’t be rushing into town to stay overnight, but I hadn’t expect the miles to be so easy today. We decided to play it by ear and hike on, carrying enough water in case we decided to stop before town.

The afternoon was similarly pleasant, although we soon left the trees behind. The further we walked the more barren our surroundings became.


Finally, we came across a decent campsite at about the 22 mile mark. We contemplated stopping, but ultimate decided to push into town. Today would be our longest day yet — a marathon to be exact!

265 miles walked, but only 10% of the PCT.


When we finally got to the crossing with highway 18, we saw Travis and Kelsey there (from SF) trying to hitch a ride. Not a good sign since they were ready to give up. No one was stopping. I was determined though, and finally a minivan pulled over to give us a ride (although Travis and Kelsey had already called a cab, so they stayed behind).  

We hit it off with Ron, who works for Destination Big Bear renting vacation homes. He asked us where we were planing to stay (Motel 6) and then offered that we could stay in a spare room in the luxury vacation home he was staying in. We took him up on the offer. The home was amazing, with a playful (but not tacky) interior design, a shuffle board table, and a hot tub!! It was perfect as I could totally have seen myself enjoying a place like that for a vacation with friends or family.

Our room for the night!


Of course, by the time we’d showered and cleaned up we were starving. Our camp dinner wasn’t looking particularly attractive anymore, so we joined Ron on his evening walk and headed to the grocery store to pick up pizza, salad, and beer. What better way to finish off a 26 mile day than a little 2-mile walk 😉
After eating and chatting more with Ron, we hit the hot tub. The hot water felt amazing given my sore legs. Then it was off to bed. What an exhausting day with such a wonderful surprise ending! Hiking the PCT has really allowed us to meet altruistic people and accept amazing acts of kindness that we normally don’t hear about these days. But they still exist here!

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: sore ankle, inner thigh chafing

Michael: lingering blister; popping hip

3 thoughts on “Day 16: Marathon Into Big Bear

  1. So glad to find your blog! It always takes a couple of weeks to figure out who is updating their PCT blogs consistently and your writing style is great. I believe you are off trail for a little while, but I look forward to your posts when you resume! Hike on!

    Liked by 2 people

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