Go West Young Man
Beginning Elevation = 6,800
Peak Elevation = 7,900
Ending Elevation = 6,400
Weather: Sunny, 50-60°F
Due to my late night movie watching (11:30!), I was able to sleep until 7:00am. I took a shower, then did my usual routine of packing my pack. Got all my things out of the cabin, turned off the water, and locked it up.
I made the short walk over to the bus stop and quickly learned the extreme heaviness of my pack, filled with 6 days of food and 2 liters water. I didn’t think much about the weight when I was buying food, so some items are a bit dense.
I caught the 8:30 bus and got off at the Stater Brothers grocery store stop, basically as far as it’d take me without transferring to another line. Once off, I walked over to the Juice Factory and got a Ban Berry Smoothie. I then walked next door to OJ’s Donuts and got my favorite kind of doughnut, chocolate covered/custard filled. I enjoyed both outside and finished getting caught up on my posts.
Once done, I saddled up the pack and began walking east down Highway 18, back towards the trail. As cars went by I stuck out my thumb, but they were moving quick. I intended to get to the next intersection and try as cars began accelerating, but before I got there, a guy pulling out of a driveway saw me and asked where I was headed. Bryan was my driver today for my first successful solo hitch. He was headed home, knew of the trailhead I was trying to get to, and said it was on his way.
At 9:55, after limbering up with some stretching, I began walking the trail once again. I was feeling good. The trail went up for the first 5 miles, bit it was pretty gradual. I was feeling the weight of the pack and did some adjustments to my straps to try and get things situated.
Early on, the trail had a view of some desert- looking area down below.
So far the general trend of the trail has been north as you’d expect. Starting today though, the trail curves around Big Bear Lake and heads west-ish for 150 miles or so, before turning north again.
I didn’t see anyone until 11:30, but did observe these spiky flowering tree things, some nice colorful ground flowers, and a view of Baldwin Lake (which normally doesn’t have any water and according to my trail angel driver Gary, the grayish color is from high arsenic concentrations).
First folks I saw were Eileen (Two Shoes) and Jo, two nurses that dad and I met at the Warner Springs school-hosted spaghetti dinner. I saw them on the bus yesterday too. I didn’t walk with them, but instead cruised on ahead.
Soon later, I came across another familiar face, Songbird, who I hadn’t seen since Warner Springs. She was eating lunch under a large shaded tree and told me she’s been using dad’s tip of using packets of mayo, mustard, etc… from gas stations. She also was trying adding a Kool-Aid packet to her water bottle because she said the water tasted horrible. There’s a reason you dump a cup of sugar in when making this normally tasty drink…without, it’s quite sour!
I went further on a bit, then found a nice spot to enjoy my lunch. Pizza roll-up was on the menu today. That’s where all my pack weights coming from (pizza sauce, cheese block, and beef stick!), so I’m hoping to eat it all up as fast as I can.
The trail was quite pleasant, winding it’s way through beautiful forests, curving around the edge of the mountain side. There weren’t as many views looking out, but that didn’t bother me.
For a small stretch, we got to see this view though!
What a picturesque scene with the blue lake and the snow covered mountains in the the back!
Eventually, I came out of full, green forest and popped out to this view.
The trail wound it’s way down.
Around 6:55pm, after 9 hours from when I started, I found a nice tenting area. I’m neighbors with a girl I haven’t met yet. Didn’t get the chance to say hello, but I expect I’ll meet her tomorrow. My dinner was mac and cheese (Kraft original), with some added olive oil. Why olive oil you ask…
Because there’s a ton of calories in just a small amount! It’s kind of the opposite of a lot of folks, instead of counting calories to cut back, we look to add them however we can. Some do large bags of sour patch kids, some do jars of peanut butter, I’m trying to add olive oil where I can (this isn’t my idea, a well know trick of the trade for thru-hikers). I also plan to have a cup of hot chocolate (with mini mallows!) And a Kit-Kat bar for desert with every dinner this week.
I did notice an undesired change in taste of the mac, so maybe a little less next time around.
Bonus Upload!!! – I added a video of dad and I beginning the trail together. Here it is, but I’ll also start adding these to the Videos “page” I created under the menu at top left…
(Song is Old Pine by Ben Howard. Thanks to Ben Van Gorp for introducing me to his music!)