Thursday, April 24, 2014

Day 16. Side trails and big trees

240 to 251

At the Big Bear Hostel, I arranged to get a ride from Granny. Pathfinder and I exited the PCT at a remote spot in the San Bernardino.  This was not a typical PCT hiker exit point, so it was very generous of Granny to take me there.   I wasn't entirely sure how to find the trailhead, but we turned off at the Heart Bar Campground, and Granny took me as far up the road as her van would go and dropped me off.  Thank you so very much Granny you are a true Angel!!!
It turned out that right there was a sign for the Santa Ana River trail- exactly what I was looking for.  There were a bunch of other trails leading off, all unmarked, but I took a guess and headed up the one that looked right.  It was wide and rocky and filled with pine cones.  Checking my maps on my Gaia GPS app I verified I had the right trail.  Yay!

Heading up the side trail to the PCT.
It felt like such an adventure to be on a trail that wasn't the PCT.  It made me feel like I was back in Georgia, where I used to love taking little obscure trails.  There was no one around, and the area seemed wild.  Big trees were everywhere.  I climbed for an hour and a half and was thrilled to find at a trail junction the familiar PCT sign.  I'd made it to PCT mile 242.  

Back to the PCT.  YAY!
I left off the previous day when Pathfinder and I were rescued at mile 240, so I had some backtracking to do.  I figured I might as well hang my food so I wouldn't have to carry it, since it was by far the heaviest thing in my pack.  Without my food, I bounded south on the PCT with my light pack feeling great.  About a mile down the trail, I started having this funny feeling- I remembered hearing about bears in only a few spots in SoCal, but I couldn't remember where.  As I turned the bend, sure enough I saw a small bear.  It looked at me and scampered off down the hill.  Wow I was so fortunate to see a bear!  But then I decided I probably hadn't hung my food high enough, so I hurried back up the trail to my food, put it back in my pack, and hiked back down the trail again.  So I ended up doing a few extra miles.  Oh well it was gorgeous trail and I'll not make that mistake again!

At Mission Springs, I met Steady's husband who was waiting for her, and he gave me some chocolate and gatoraide. Thank you what a treat!

Steady's husband.
Finally, I was back on track, heading north again on the PCT just 24 hours since Pathfinder was evacuated.  I found a ridge with cell service and called her.  The doctor thought it was a nasty stomach bug and gave her antibiotics, and she was still resting at the hotel.
This part of the trail through the high San Bernardinos was my very favorite section so far- it was so wild with sweeping views, high elevation, a cool white marble outcrop, and my favorite thing- big ancient gnarled trees including western junipers.  This forest felt so alive- birds everywhere and lizards scurrying.  

Huge trees.
I found a sheltered hang site at mile 251, and walked up to the ridge to watch the sunset.  Coldest night yet, but I was toasty and fell asleep totally happy for a great day.
Sheltered hang site out of the wind.


  1. I so relate to your decision process. Thanks for sharing it makes me feel so much better about the predicaments I seem to find myself in.

    1. OMG I'm so glad someone out there relates! I find the decisions fascinating and always wonder why people make the choices they do out here.