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Day 20 – April 23, 2022

Mile 266.1 (Highway 18/Big Bear) to 285.6 (Little Bear Spring Camp)

19.5 trail miles | 18.9 tracked miles | 2,157 ft elevation gain | 66.2 F / 19 °C

Our longer-than-expected stay in Big Bear was enjoyable and restful. Thanks to our delayed departure, Christie, Joe, Michael and I were able to reconnect briefly this morning with our extended trail family who’s a couple days behind us.

While leaving the comfort of civilization is always difficult, I truly enjoy the simplicity of life on the trail. My stay in Big Bear was eye-opening in this regard. I’ve never subscribed to the culture of $5 coffees and $7 smoothies; yet it’s difficult to deny the appeal of such luxuries when I’m in town, hungry, and with too much time on my hands.

For the cost of my overpriced, tepid, and unremarkable latte this morning, I could have purchased three tuna packets—a backpacker’s lunch staple that comes loaded with protein and omega oils, rather than subpar coffee and loads of sugar.

Anyway, we left Big Bear shortly after breakfast. Our driver (a local “trail angel”, who’s basically running an unofficial business) was significantly late, but given the lack of alternative transportation options I couldn’t complain.

This morning’s stretch was smooth and gentle, with relatively little elevation gain overall.

The trail north of Big Bear was smooth and easy

Along the way, we enjoyed panoramic views of Big Bear Lake. The area is very scenic and I can imagine that it’s very popular outside shoulder season.

Overlooking Big Bear Lake

The snow storm that blanketed the trail two evenings ago left few traces, besides cool temperatures that happen to be ideally suited to hiking. The snow is melting extremely fast and wasn’t much of an impediment.

We dodged a snow storm and reaped the benefits of cool temperatures!

Despite our late departure, we were able to hike close to 20 miles and reach our intended camp site before sunset. It’s a testament to the gentle terrain, the strength that we’ve already acquired over the last three weeks, and naturally, the virtue of rest days.

Our campground for the night, Little Bear Spring Camp, is an official San Bernardino National Forest backcountry trail camp. The main highlight is the solar composting privy. Best BM on the trail so far, if I dare say!

Little Bear Spring Camp composting toilet

Despite hiking 20 miles today, we made little progress latitude-wise, and the next few days will sadly cement this trend: the PCT makes a significant detour in order to avoid the arid Death Valley. We’ll be heading west and hugging the northern LA metro for the foreseeable future.

I’m excited for the road ahead. Go west – life is peaceful there – in the open air, sang the Pet Shop Boys in the early 90s. The world has changed much since, but this earworm is definitely stuck in my head tonight.

Camping at Little Bear Spring Camp

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