The Forests Leading to Big Bear
Beginning Elevation = 7,800
Peak Elevation = 8,750
Ending Elevation = 7,600
Weather: Overcast, 50-65°F
Steve H on the trail at 7:00, feeling a little stiff from the day before. My thinking was to go nice and slow today. After only a short walk, I stopped to fill water while I could. This was the last source for about 16 miles, my longest carry yet I think. I decided to fill a woping 5 liters.
Started out the morning in a scenery that was difficult for me to describe. The ground seemed to be made up of an easily erodable granitic-like rock giving the trail the appearance of a well-graded gravelly sand. Large expansive trees dotted the hillsides with long needles approximately 5-6 inches in length (Ponderosa Pine/Jeffrey Pine?). Smaller coniferous trees existed too, with a more traditional needle length of approximately 1 inch similar to what one might see in the midst of a Dutchman Tree Farm field. Pine cones and needles alike lay irregulary throughout the forest floor wherever the forces of gravity, wind, and water deposited them. An occasional burnt log lay scattered about like a fallen soldier in a battlefield, whereas new life was observed to be bursting forth in the form of bushes filled with small bell shaped flowers (I hope you enjoyed my attempt to describe the scene).
I enjoyed my breakfast of strawberries and cream oatmeal while sitting with my back against a fallen log. I was kind of looking out of a rather sparse burned forest. I walked the morning by myself without seeing other hikers, which was very nice. I saw two rabbits and have started seeing a small chipmunk creature around. I’ll wait for photos to confirm identification, but it could be the Gorgonian striped-back chipmunk.
The trees were the highlight of the day. I did get high enough in elevation where there was some snow again, but conveniently only a few patches. Two trees dominated the forest landscape, the big one I described already and a gnarly one I believe is a juniper (shout out to Juniper Scherpennise for having a cool name and being awesome like these trees!). This one has a kind of orangish brown bark that has a fibrous texture. The needles are branch/coral-like and have blue berries.
Here’s the bark of what I’m calling the Jeffrey/Ponderosa Pine. It’s thick and platy and jig-saw puzzle piece like.
The folks I saw on trail today were Matt (just briefly), Alisha from Colorado Springs (she does Spartan Races which sound similar to obstacle courses), Tony “Cool Hands” (he used to have bear hunting dogs and let me know that Californian black bears come in different colors – blonde, cinnamon, brown, etc…), Rintaro from Yokohama, Japan (he did an exchange student year at University of California San Diego and needs to finish by September 15 to start his last year of school back in Japan) and Seth Rogen (still just talking and laughing like the actor, he wears a sailor hat and Hawaiian-like short shorts).
Here’s some photos of some views looking out (the one with my ninja pose has San Jacinto in the background still, I think the other one is San Gorgonio?).
I made it to the campsite around 6:00pm. I ended up with a liter and half of water when arrived at camp so over the big waterless stretch I drank 3.5 liters.
I was happy to see I’d caught up to Brian. And soon later Cool Hands and Ally came in. The four of us had dinner with a couple, Three Bean and Foxtail. We even had a picnic table since this was an actual campsite (from the left that’s 3 Bean, Brian, Cool hands, and me). Others came in to camp too, Mark from North Carolina and Christine from Germany who seem to have teamed up.
It was nice to see familiar faces and meet some new. I have yet to meet someone on the trail that was not welcoming and friendly.
As many of you know, I’ve had my issues over the years with various health concerns. Breathing, swallowing, digesting…just the usual stuff. I’m happy to report that thus far, all has been well on these fronts. Despite my rather poor diet, I’m feeling healthy, with energy, and have only had a few stomach issues, which seem to correlate to my “in-town” visits. Thus, I need to be on guard and not let my urge to devour food in town take over.
My motivation level is high. I feel I’m settling in to the trail, gaining confidence, and feeling more comfortable amongst my fellow hikers.
In the words of Rufio, one of my old heroes, “Bangarang!”