Monday, April 28, 2014

Big Bear Blisters - Day 24 (4/28/2014)

Day 24
Mile 249.7 to mile 266
16.3 miles

Today we actually started stirring in the tent at 5 am. Woohoo for us! We were stirring for most of the night too. It was a bitter cold night at elevation, 8000 feet. It is hard to get going when it is so cold out. Everything is telling you to stay in your sleeping bag, but those miles beckon!

Shortly after hitting the trail we came across the private zoo that I mentioned in my last post. It was pretty much what you would expect to see, huge chain link fences surrounding smaller cages that housed large animals. From what we could see from the trail there was a grizzly bear, a lion, a tiger, and a black panther. Sitting next to one of these cages was a guard dog, part German Shepard and part some other huge dog we couldn't identify. He sat there very stoically looking out over the trail; nobody was going to mess with these animals on his watch. This dog meant business. 

Mandie and I wanted some better pictures of the animals so we cautiously approached the outer most fence. As we tip toed closer to it we sweet talked the guard dog as much as we could so he didn't try to attack us. He eventually got up from his post and came over to say hello to us. He was missing a back leg, which I can only imagine was taken by a caged animal, so he walked with a limp. When he got to where we were standing I expected him to start growling and barking. Instead he rubbed up against the fence and sniffed and licked Mandie's hand. The sniffing and licking then turned into head pets and ear rubs. Finally the dog turned around and gave Mandie his rear-end to scratch. Mandie says, 'Once that happens you are in.'  

It was a neat experience with the dog but a sad one to see the caged up animals. Although in this instance I am glad that there was a fence between me and them. The sound that a lion makes is scary, it is a deep, guttural sound and you know it means business. 

A couple of miles after that we hit the Onyx Summit water cache. It was a large construction grade tool box filled with soda, cookies, and a log book. Next to that was a couch. We grabbed a couple of pops and Mandie sat down to sign the log book. The log book is nice to browse through and see which fellow hikers have passed through before you. The sodas were a nice treat and were still cold from the previous cold night. 

A few miles beyond that we hiked down into a valley which had a small stream running through it. We paused shortly to admire its beauty and began hiking back out. A minute later Mandie stops and says, 'My foot just blew up!'  I knew that meant that one of her many blisters had popped. We dropped our packs and sat down in the middle of the trail to assess the situation. With her shoe and sock off we could see that it was the blister between her big toe and adjacent toe that had popped. We cleaned it up the best we could there and then walked the short distance back to the stream so she could soak her feet and do damage control. 

My feet had been bothering me too so I decided to take my shoes off and soak my feet too. The water was so cold that we could only keep our feet in for a few seconds, but it still felt so good to cool them off. While we sat there letting them dry off we had a bite to eat and made small talk with hikers that passed by. After taking a deep breath we put our shoes and socks back on and headed back up out of the valley. 

Josh with Michael Daniel Thomas aka Lion King
We reached a small plateau where there was another hiker laying down in the shade of a Juniper Tree. The hiker happened to be Michael Daniel Thomas aka Lion King. In my eyes, he is a legend of the hiking world. Mandie and I had watched all of his
hiking video in preparation of our hike and were friends with him on FB. We made some small talk with him, discussing places to stay in Big Bear. I asked him for his photo, I am a little hiker star struck, which he obliged. We shook hands and carried on up the hill. 

When we crested the hill we were greeted with beautiful views of the Mojave desert and surrounding area. In a week or two we will be walking through that desert, it looks pretty barren. 

We hobbled along for the next han
dful of miles until we reached the trailhead parking lot at mile 266. We briefly stopped in the parking lot to clean ourselves up and figure out a game plan. Our next destination would be the post office. We then walked across the two lane highway and stuck our thumbs out for any passing car. The third car to pass by stopped and a nice young man, named Gary, jumped out of his car and made room for us and our gear. He was returning from playing golf down the mountain where it was cheaper. 

The post office we were dropped off at happened to be the wrong PO. It was our own fault, this is where we asked Gary to drop us off at, but we now needed to find a way across town to the PO that had our box. 
A man who was behind us in line at the PO over heard what had happened and offered us a ride to the other PO. We thought, 'Well cool. That was easy.'  We walked over to his car where he soon learned that he had locked his keys in the car. Bummer. 

It was getting late and the PO was going to close soon so we gave up on the PO and decided to get something to eat at a nearby shopping center. As we were walking down the sidewalk we saw a familiar figure standing on the corner waiting to cross the street, it was Pillsbury. We had separated from her a few days ago and with us zeroing in Big Bear we thought we might not catch back up with her. We stood on the sidewalk and chatted for a while. She had been in Big Bear for a couple of days now, waiting for her resupply box, so she was able to give us the low-down on what was where in town. We said our goodbyes and headed our separate ways. 

After stopping at CVS for drinks, snacks, and bathroom break we headed over to the bus stop with the intention of going to a more populated part of town. As we waited for the bus we used our phones to find a place to stay in the area. It turned out that there was a hotel a half mile from where we were standing. We wanted nothing more than to get off our feet and get a real meal so we headed off for that hotel. 

After getting checked in we immediately ordered some food for delivery. While we waited for it to be delivered I headed back out for something more to drink, 7-Up and Gatorade of course. Oh, and we needed some Epsom salt to soak the feets. 

The rest of the evening was spent watching Pretty Woman while we ate, drinking fluids, popping blisters and tending to our wounds, and relaxing. I have a couple of huge blisters on my heels. 

It feels so good to be in a warm bed with soft pillows but at the same time I miss being on the trail. I guess the trail has become my home and I am feeling home sick. I had read about these feelings in other hikers' blogs but didn't expect to feel them myself. It is an odd feeling. Life on the trail has been hard but at the same time so wonderful and simple. I feel like I am changing... into what, I have no idea, but my previous life is slowly melting away. 

I miss my cats, my friends, and my family.