I didn’t expect Big Bear to be so stunningly beautiful. Beyond its proximity to Los Angeles, I didn’t know much about it. As I drove into the San Bernardino Mountain Range and the high desert gave way to evergreens and wildflowers, I was floored. As the sun rose over the horizon and the whole world came alive, I knew I was a short drive from getting out of my car and going for a long walk. Shortly, these woods would be my playground and I would be free to explore.
Scrapped My Original Plan
My original plan was to hike Siberia Creek Trail just outside of Big Bear. After about an hour of searching for the trailhead, I scrapped my original plan in frustration. Steaming on the side of the road, I reached for the Hiking Project app and quickly searched for another 13-15-mile trail in the area. According to the app, I had two options: Aspen Glen-Skyline Loop or the Pacific Crest Trail. Now, as many of you know, I am not touching any section of the PCT until next year, so the decision was simple. After losing two hours of sunlight, I found the trailhead and got to work.
The climb through Aspen Glen up to Skyline Loop is filled with gradual ascending and descending climbs. On more than one occasion, I found myself doubled over catching my breath. Of course, as is almost always the case, the payoff was a vista beyond compare. Staring at the breath of the San Bernardino Mountain range, I had some lunch and then made a critical error. I was relying on my GPS to get around and it failed me. Due to some confusing signage, I got on the wrong trail and found myself headed in the wrong direction adding hours to my hike. Despite the extra work, I was in heaven. This labor and reliance on myself to correct things is the exact practice I will need next year on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Camera on Trial
Half of the reason I hike is photography. I love being out in nature challenging myself to capture a unique angle or a moment I want to cherish forever. Yet, even I will admit there is no easy way to hike with a camera. Next year, when attempting the PCT, I am also adding a GoPro to the mix. Taken together, they are bulky, heavy, and require special care. As I develop a system to bring my passion with me, I also need to develop a system to make this easier on myself.
My Body Is Weary
Aspen Glen-Skyline Loop kicked my butt. After nearly 40,000+ steps, 14 miles of hiking, and getting lost, I was absolutely worn out. As I left the trailhead and rushed to the nearest restaurant to recover lost calories, I wondered how I am going to do this next year. How am I going to do this every day, day after day for five months? Of course, I know I will get stronger. I know my body will get used to the agony and I will eventually find it all enjoyable, but I also know that the first month will be filled with new pains never felt before. For now, I must keep this moment in my mind as a precursor of things to come.
Be good to each other,
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