May 8, 2017
Total miles: 8.9 miles
Start: Big Bear Lake (mile 266.1)
End: Caribou Creek (mile 275.0)
Total elevation gain/loss: 1281.8/854.3ft
After four long (and fun) days away from the trail, we’re back! We woke early to take care of last minute town chores and enjoy breakfast with my aunt and uncle. Then it was time to rush back to Big Bear. We needed to get the car back by 1pm and we had stops to make at Target, Trader Joe’s, REI (Michael’s headlamp broke), and the Post Office (to mail weekend stuff and extra gear back to my parents). We managed to fit it all in and get the car back by about 12:50. Success!
As we drove through the mountains on the way to Big Bear, we saw evidence of the snowstorm that passed through over the weekend. Where the vistas had been brown and green in our way down the mountain, today they were dusted in snow. Looks like we had perfect timing!
We lounged around the hotel/car rental lobby for about an hour to take advantage of our last bit of wifi. Then it was off to the Post Office (again) to mail a couple cards. We weren’t sure how long it would take to hitch back to the trail, so Michael filled us up on water while I bought stamps. Now it was really time to head out. Outside the Post Office, a couple identified us as hikers and were curious to know about local options for a one hour hike. I couldn’t help but chuckle that we only know about five month hiking options and suggested they ask at the visitor center.
We crossed the street, stuck out our thumbs, and the first car pulled over! Woohoo! We rode with our first hitch (and his dog Kona) about halfway to the trailhead. Then our paths diverged and we stuck out our thumbs again. This time it took about 15 minutes, but we finally got a ride the rest of the way. I was honestly surprised that we were at the trailhead and ready to start hiking again by 3:15.
The trail was kind to us on our return and we had a couple miles of flat, gentle trail before heading uphill. This section doesn’t offer a lot of water options and we didn’t feel like dry camping tonight (our food is heavy enough without adding more water to the mix). It was about 9 miles to the first water source, so that’s how far we went. The landscape gradually morphed from the dry desert with low shrubs to a more alpine-like forest — my favorite.
There were several people who had already set up camp by the time we arrived. It’s weird seeing all new faces now that our bubble has passed, but I’m sure we’ll get to know people over the coming days. For this evening, the priority was making dinner and getting into our warm sleeping bags as quickly as possible. It’s going to be a cold night — the thermometer already says it’s down to 45 degrees!
Elizabeth: None!! I guess that’s what four zeros will do.