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Day 17 – April 20, 2022

Mile 232.1 (Mission Creek) to 256.2 (Arrastre Trail Camp)

24.1 trail miles | 21.4 tracked miles | 4,927 ft elevation gain | 69 F / 20.5 °C

We woke up this morning feeling somewhat lethargic. The prospect of navigating a valley of cairns for another seven miles wasn’t particularly exciting. Nevertheless, we promptly broke camp and started hiking around 6:30am.

The morning light was a feast for the senses once again.

Sunrise near Mission Creek

The trek along North Fork Mission Creek on its westward journey turned out to be much more pleasant than yesterday’s odyssey across its bigger sibling Mission Creek. Besides, water was abundant.

But the trail giveth, the trail taketh. We soon entered a burn area and had to maneuver around a few blowdowns.

Eventually, we left North Fork Mission Creek behind and headed north. We stocked up on water at the last opportunity, ahead of a 16-mile dry stretch. I’m learning how to consume and carry as little as possible in order to minimize the weight of my pack. Electrolytes help significantly in this regard.

While it wasn’t excessively difficult, this morning’s stretch felt like a slog, on the heels of two arduous days.

Somehow, after lunch, I got my groove back. The trail turned smoother, lifting my spirits and allowing me to pick up significant speed. I passed Michael with a hint of satisfaction—he’s often ahead of the group, and I think he enjoys setting the pace.

This section didn’t feel very remote. We crossed numerous dirty roads and skirted Highway 38, and there are a few cabins in the area. Nevertheless, it felt extremely satisfying to return to a well-groomed path and march on without having to dodge obstacles or constantly second guess ourselves.

Emboldened by this unexpected positive twist of fate, we decided to move the goal post and hike an extra 8 miles in order to get closer to Big Bear, CA, our next stop and resupply point. I maintained a steady 3.6 miles/hour and arrived first at camp.

Our stopping point for the night is Arrastre Trail Camp, a spacious campsite in the San Bernardino National Forest maintained by the Forest Service. Amenities include picnic tables and a water faucet, which unfortunately appears to be out of service.

We are only 10 miles from Highway 18, the gateway to Big Bear, where we’ll spend the afternoon and the night tomorrow.

I look forward to commandeering the commode at the Holiday Inn and enjoying other finer aspects of civilization such as the ability to wash my clothes. But we’re mostly eager to explore the food scene in Big Bear—our dinner conversation revolved exclusively around culinary options.

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