Miles: 7.5
Camping: Big Bear Hostel
Hikers seen on trail: 1 day hiker

It was rough getting up today, as it is cold in high elevations! It warms quickly after the sun breaks ths horizon, but when you get up at 5:30 every day, there is a bit of a wait. I had to channel the thought of breakfast to get my momentum, which worked well. I closed my eyes, conjured up the smell and taste of hot coffee with bacon and sprung to life. I looked at my trail bar with disdain, but knew I needed some sustenance to hike the 7.5 miles to the highway, so I tolerated it as I hiked.

I threw on my headphones and let Neil Young sing me down the trail as the sun brought light and heat to the day. I sang along completely unconcerned about people discovering my inability to match his range, though no one came along.

It was a beautiful morning, and I am always excited to meet a new trail town. There were lots of cool trees I hadn’t seen before, I think a different kind of Joshua Tree, unless I was mistaken about the other ones seen on the desert floor. There is just so much interesting plant life here! I’m often found cooing over some newly discovered flora, much to the amusement (or annoyance?) of some of my trail companions.

The view looked out over Big Bear, and sometimes off to the desert, as I was walking the ridge between the two. Alpine forests to my left, Mars to my right, all lovely to behold. I ended up only carrying 1 liter of water for the short hike, so my pack was ultra light and I flew down the trail making 3 mph. Speed Bunny takes over sometimes, and I like it. I had my mind set on the 9 am shuttle set up by the hostel for my first hot shower in a week, and of course breakfast.

I made the highway with 15 minutes to spare, where various of the lodging options in town set up trail magic. “Have this soda, stay with us!” It was bribery at it’s best, but the hostel had already won my heart with a couch on trail and the promise of a shuttle…plus I had mail waiting there.

Soon I was joined by Darrin from the UK, and we waited together, salivating over breakfast options. I learned from him that flapjacks aren’t pancakes, and he learned from me that biscuits aren’t cookies. When we realized it had turned to 9:15 with no shuttle, I called the hostel and they said it was coming. We waited longer and Blisster appeared from the trail, followed by a man from Germany who’s name I can’t remember properly. It was 9:45 and Hungry Bunny started chomping at the bit, so I stuck out my thumb and scored us a ride. We all piled into a pickup truck where a nice local woman was happy to give us a ride. She said that she always looks for hikers, and loves to give rides when she can. Such a sweet lady, and she drove us direct to the hostel!

Before checking in, Sarge, the proprietor told us to go catch the $4.69 breakfast special down the street. He would hold our beds, but he didn’t want us to miss a good deal, and he could tell we were hungry. Blisster, Ninja, Darrin and I all did the hiker hobble down to the Teddy Bear cafe where we all ate huge breakfasts. I ended up getting a bacon and avocado omelette with hash browns and a biscuit with gravy that I had no problem finishing. I even eyeballed the plates of my companions for leftover morsels, but that’s just silly with hikers. We are good eaters.

Back at the hostel I weighed myself, and learned that I have only lost half a pound. I am building an amazing amount of muscle though, and eat well when I can, so that’s to be expected. My body is changing either way, and I was afraid I’d lose weight too quickly, so I’m doing something right. I then got first towel and hit the shower with no hesitation. It had literally been a week, and I smelled the part. It was the best shower yet, I even got to shave my legs and smother myself with complimentary lotion. Plus, I found a hoodie in the loaner clothes closet, so I was due for a day of smelling and feeling good. I have actually decided that a hoodie is my spirit animal, and I don’t ever want to take it off. Too bad they are heavy, because I would definitely carry one.

I also got some new sandals from Mom, and they are super comfortable. Thanks, Mom…literally from the bottoms of my feet!! XOXO

The rest of the day was spent looking for a new hiking shirt (no luck, hopefully in Wrightwood), eating snacks, lazing around, hanging out with other hikers (there are a bunch of great people here), chatting with my dad and a few friends on the phone, and eating. A group of 18 of us went to a local pub and had a nice prime rib dinner for $10, plus rocky road ice cream for dessert. I chatted with a woman named Fancy who hiked the AT 18 years ago. She is having some issues with her energy and thinks it is an electrolyte imbalance, she is waiting on some test results to find out before hiking on. We all gathered around the newly dubbed Peanut (previously Karen) to sing Happy Birthday and when everyone did shots, I had a Shirley Temple shot since I’m not drinking (with Fancy and Sarge who also don’t drink). I had not initially planned to not drink at all on this trip, but sobriety suits this lifestyle well, and I’m not even craving alcohol. It’s kind of nice, and I’m too tired to drink anyhow.

Now I’m in my comfy hostel bed ready to hit the lights. It’s hiker midnight (9pm), and I have errands to run before hitting the trail tomorrow. But first, one last cool story:
when I checked into the hostel I met my roommate Sierra. We did the small talk thing and this happened:
Me: Where are you from?
Sierra: New Hampshire (no one is everv from NH it seems)
Me: No way?! What part?
Sierra: Durham.
Me: No way! I’m from Madbury (it’s the next town over…people barely know it exists unless they live there).

We went to the same high school (15 years apart), had the same math teacher, the same swim coach AND our mom’s both work for UNH. Crazy small world, this. Go Bobcats!

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