Mile 266: Big Bear City

Its been over a week since my last post and quite a bit has happened.
The day i left Idyllwild, i hitched a lift from a guy going in the opposite direction 8 miles to the Black Mountain trail head. One great thing about the PCT is how amazing some of the people are in the local community’s.

I was able to join up with Maria for this section and for the next 60 miles. I was glad that I had someone to hike with especially from a safety point of view, since I have never hiked in snow let alone spent more than 48 hours in it!
The road up Black Mountain was at first easy walking up through tire tracks left behind in the snow. ~4 miles on we had to start postholing our way up another 5 miles to the ridge and the Black Mountain campground. Most of the postholing was fairly easy going, but every so often there would be a snow drift that would trip us up and we’d sink up to our knees.

We spent that night over the ridge from Black Mountain campground, about 2 miles along the PCT. This was again a first for me. Setting my tent up in snow, and lighting a fire on snow! That night was particularly cold, but i survived. My -2 degree C bag was able to just handle the cold. I was worried that my short mattress would not insulate me enough, but between a bag of clothes for a pillow and my rain pants as extra insulation for my feet i was able to get by. I was certainly less comfortable, but for the first time I was able to zip my mummy bag completely closed and pulled the drawstring tight, leaving only a small gap for air. I still felt a bit cold.

I had a great time making water, but a tip for the people who haven’t: Use a lid, the water afterwards tasted disgusting, I had water tasting like smoke for the next 15 miles!

The next day was a 15 mile trek down the mountain, dropping a measly 5000 feet over 15 miles! Those switch-backs were really frustrating at times, and i had smoky tasting water until finally there was a water spigot at the bottom. After that i only had 4 miles to do over a flattish section to the trail angels Ziggy and the Bear.

That night was great, you can check out some of the photos on my PCT photos page. They were a real treat, I slept on a comfy carpet in a small gazebo type structure, and they treated us to breakfast in the morning!

The next morning, 3rd day out of Idyllwild, I only ended up leaving after 9am, that was a mistake. The day ended up to be pretty hot, and I struggled up the first mini-pass. At mile 10 of that day we came across the White Water river. What a treat, I was able to submerge my body in the river and completely relax. My feet were really thanking me for it.  I spent the night at mile 226 next to the creek that I would follow for 12 miles the next day.

The next day was a supremely long day, but it was surprisingly better than the previous day. Over that day i climbed 5000 feet in 12 miles, and ended up hiking for 20 miles to mile marker 246! The second half of that day i was treated to fantastic views of the San Gorgonio Mountain. The last 8 mile section of the day was in forests with mostly pine. It helped me keep my speed up and get me trough the miles.

The day before I got to Big Bear Lake, I hiked a further 19 miles to just shy of Hwy 18 (mile 265).  This was a relatively easy section winding up and over Onyx summit, and down towards Big Bear Lake. I ended up stopping a lot this section as i was ‘ahead’ of schedule the whole day. I stopped and read and emailed every now and then and the 19 mile day ended up being one of the easiest. The miles just flew by.

The last day i hiked the 1 mile to Hwy 18 where i promptly hitched a ride into Big Bear Lake. Finally i just had a short 1.5 mile walk from where i was dropped off to where the Big Bear Hostel was located.

I have now taken close to 2 zero days, which is probably 1 more than i should have. It’s also amazing how much food i have uneaten. I really need to start eating more, or just eat through the weight that I’m carrying.  I’m also ahead of schedule for when I’m supposed to meet Dan, i only need to average 18 miles a day, which is a doable target. My next definite stop is 181 miles away to Agua Dulce, i’ll be staying at Hiker Heaven, a Trail Angel run rest stop. It should take me about 10 days. I’ll try post before then, but can’t promise photos till then.

In the mean time, check out my latest photos by following the PCT photos link above.



  • Robynn Hofmeyr

    April 22, 2012

    Making memories that’ll last a lifetime. Go Steve!

  • David

    April 22, 2012

    You have made great progress, and well deserve the zero days. God bless.
    Another South Africa, Ryno Terblanche, has just started the PCT. We will let you know his news from time to time.

  • Rebecca Parry

    April 22, 2012

    Great hiking. Your photos are stunning-photo contest winners! Charles’ sister, Frannie Tennant, lives in Lake Arrowhead, CA and talks about Big Bear. I’m sure you’re not far from there. Charles will be visiting her after a San Francisco conference at the end of June, but you’ll no doubt be miles away at that point. Your dad & Charles are running together this morning. Both did well on the Ultra & Half Marathon respectively in the Two Oceans while the rest of us were frozen ice blocks at the water station as it rained for 6 of the 8 hours. Poor John McP has a cold now as even HE got cold (which he never does- always cheerful in shirt sleeves).

  • BEAKer

    April 22, 2012

    Awesome job noMAD. You’ve already passed the Orange County/Long Beach area where I grew up. Keep it up!

  • Ann Moore

    April 22, 2012

    We are all reading your blog with great interest, Steve. Enjoy this great adventure as you explore so much of God’s amazing creation.
    Ann, Sam and Samuel

  • Jane

    April 25, 2012

    Stay strong!

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