Then Gradually Down

It got downright cold overnight up on the mountain, just above 8,000′.  A couple of other hikers made the mistake of leaving their water bladders outside and woke to 1- and 2-liter slushies.

Jen was still feeling pretty down about her perceived performance the day before, so I had to put it in perspective for her – she hiked 14 miles with 5,000′ of elevation gain in the same amount of time that on our third day took us to cover 10 miles with only 500′ of gain.

That perked her up, but didn’t change the way our bodies felt.  On paper we were planning a 16 mile day with a bit of climbing, but mostly descent.  We started talking shorter options since we weren’t on a time crunch.  That made the day seem easier from the beginning, knowing we could make the call at our next water source 10 miles up the trail.

We started later than usual and enjoyed warming up in the sun.  It was slow going for us, but it’s amazing how fast the body works out the soreness and gets back to work.  By early afternoon we were at our water source knowing it was only six miles to the next water source and camp. But we carried extra water should we decide to stop short and dry camp.

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Looking back at Mt San Jacinto, including the terrain that took us four days on trail to cover.  Three of those days were our hardest so far.

Just a half mile or so out of the water source, our morning mojo was gone.  The bodies were beat up so we decided to call it short, finding a nice campsite just a mile later.  It poised us well for an easy downhill 14-miler the following day, one that would get us to a highway for a hitch into Big Bear Lake for resupply.

Plus we needed to suss out the trail rumors of an upcoming snowstorm that would impact the trail.

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Day 24 – 12 / 252

This day lived up to expectations.  An overall smooth downhill course that had me struggling to keep up with Jen.  She was moving and feeling good.  We covered the first 10 miles in about 4 hours, which is moving for us.  But we were still getting passed by the fast folks.  No worries.  After a few tough days, everyone was excited to get into Big Bear.

We stopped for a quick break.  I wanted to get my dehydrated lunch soaking so that it would be ready for lunch.  Jen mentioned that she hadn’t set anything out for her, so we decided to just make it a snack stop. A stop that sure took the wind out of our sails.  The last four miles was slow going.

But we did cross 265 miles, so we are 1/10th of the way done.  We’re in good health and great spirits, so all is good.

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We got to the highway and met up with several of the hikers that passed us earlier.  The large group made it tougher to hitch a ride into town, but after about 30 minutes a nice retired couple got us to our hotel.

A bit of research showed that the forecast storm was going to be significant, so instead of a one-day resupply in town and hitting the trail the next morning in the midst of or at the tail end of the storm, we opted to stay an additional night to see how it played out.

If we were on trail when it hit, we would just deal with it.  We don’t mind camping in the cold, but hate being cold and wet.  We have the option, so better to play it safe.

Day 25 – 14 / 266

Big Bear Lake – I realized as we were walking to the highway that I hadn’t been here for 30 years this coming summer.

The area was the scene of summer training camp for our high school cross-country team.  Many great memories with a lot of fun people (you know who you are).  Plus, the scene of my very first unofficial half-marathon+, as those of us who wanted to could run around the lake.

Day 26 –  Zero Day with about six miles of town walking / 266

Day 27 – Zero/Snow Day – several inches fell in town overnight but it melted quickly. / 266

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