April 12 (~10:50 – ~17:30)
Highway 18 – after Delamar Mountain Rd (15.2 mi / Total: 281.3 mi)
Weather: The air is cold but the sun is warm. It’s mostly great weather for hiking, but when I hit the wrong side of the mountain there is snow and it’s freezing cold.
(Due to phone problems / lack of signal I’m running behind on blog posts and will try and publish two a day for the next few days to catch up!)
We’re leaving Big Bear today. I’ve had a stressful day off but I did get to indulge in some fantastic lasagna, so it was all worth it. I sort out my things in the hotel room and take the bus to the other side of town with Speedy and Back Water. It’ll be easier to hitch out from there. When we alight the bus, we take a moment to scour the area for my lost SIM card, but we find nothing. Off we go again. It takes two hitches to get back to the trailhead, and we’re walking again.
It’s an easy day. The path winds through the forest and there’s little elevation gain and loss. It just goes up and down and up and down, and we’re looking out over the valley far beyond or Big Bear Lake on the other side. It’s a pleasant trail, and some hours in I pass a hiker having lunch, and realise too late it was Second Chance Hiker – I am miffed I didn’t get to say hi.
Later in the day Black Water suddenly turns around and makes a statement:
‘I’ve decided I will no longer go by Black Water, and I’ll introduce myself as James from now on, until I get a better trail name.’
It’s controversial, but understandable. The name Black Water doesn’t say anything about him as a person, plus it’s quite ominous and actually offends some people with what it stands for. Speedy and I promise to think of a better trail name, as a trail name can only be endowed upon someone by another thruhiker. I offer several options, ‘Leave A Trace’, as James has a Leave No Trace principles pamphlet attached to his pack and it’s become a bit of an in-joke, and CareBear, as he’s big and hairy (his words) but he’s always trying to help us out. They don’t stick just yet, but I have hope. For now Black Water is James, but it’s very strange to call him by his real name, so I simply try and avoid it.
The rest of the day isn’t very eventful, but I’m enjoying the simple walk in the forest after all the craziness the trail threw upon us, before Big Bear. Of course, towards the end of the day the trail throws us a curveball and it passes around the wrong side of the mountain – I have to negotiate through snow again. I instantly feel the chill in the air, and stop to put on more layers. I hope the snow stops quickly but it’s quite a while before it does so. When it finally clears, I find Speedy and James setting up their tents next to the trail. It’s scenic and perfect and simple. A good first day back on trail.