Made in the Shade.

I just got back from an overnight adventure in the San Bernardino National Forest. More specifically, the area surrounding Big Bear Lake just over two hours from home.

Big Bear Lake from the North

Just as I was about to lock up the car and hike to the trail head I was presented with an opportunity to be a trail angel of sorts. A woman and her friend (who happened to be VERY pregnant) had underestimated the heat and distance of their hike and needed a ride back to the their car. It was only a quarter mile by road, and I was happy to be able to help out.

My plan was to take the Cougar Crest trail 2.5 miles to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. From there I would head east (southbound) towards the nearest reliable water source which is about 9 more miles.

Junction of Cougar Crest Trail and Pacific Crest Trail

I made it to the water source and filled up from the spring which came out of a dripping faucet. Dinner would be based on a trail trick I had learned two years previous. As taught to me by fellow Appalachian Trail hiker "Rider", you can buy frozen burritos and carefully pack them to last a day or two before eating. I enjoyed my bean and cheese burrito with the sun setting over my shoulders. Yes I ate it cold, that's the idea. Yes it was delicious. I have pretty much done away with cooking meals on the trail if it's a solo trip and only a day or two. It's just easier that way.

Now that it was getting dark I had to make camp. I had decided to bring the tarp as opposed to the hammock since I thought it would be difficult to find trees to hang from. In retrospect I could have found trees, but they are sparse in the Southern California mountains. The tricky part is that they have to be the right distance apart and able to hold your weight safely. Anywho, I decided to cowboy camp since it was a clear night and full moon.

Sometimes the best shelter is...no shelter at all

My primary nutrition while hiking came from homemade energy bars. This was my third batch of experimental bars and this time I shaped them like huge hockey pucks. Each bar contains dates, dried cranberries, walnuts, and almonds. That's all. Each "energy puck" packed nearly 1100 calories at 9 oz per puck. A few bites per hour and some raisins or dried figs kept me going strong.

Delicious and nutritious...

This hike was the debut of my using a backpacking umbrella. I was lucky enough to get 20% off and free shipping a while back on it. Yeah, I'm the weird guy on the trail in clear sunny weather carrying an umbrella. Think of it this way - people use umbrellas at the beach all the time because they are in the sun for hours at a time. Well, I was hiking desert mountains for hours at a time and the shade makes an incredible difference. Ray Jardine was the first to promote this idea and I have been toying with the idea for years. Now that I have tried it I can say that I really enjoyed it and will likely incorporate it into routine.

The top of the umbrella is a reflective silver color

All said and done I hiked 25 miles. 18 miles were on the Pacific Crest Trail and during this time and a side hike up Bertha's Peak I did not see one person. The Cougar Creek Trail was a different story (being the first couple miles of trail from the parking area). I saw about 25 people in this stretch and the most interesting question/comment I received was "Did you see any cougars?". When I said no the 25ish guy with his girlfriend said "Darn, I want to find one of their dens". Good luck with that.

Leave no trace. Pretty simple. Pack out what you pack in. Whenever I am running or hiking, no matter how far from civilization, occasionally there is trash on the side of the trail. Maybe it's a candy bar wrapper, or an empty water bottle. Often times close to parking areas there are full dog poop bags. Really? You bothered to bag up the poop, but then you left it on the side of the trail? It would have been better not to pick it up at all than to contribute your gift of plastic to the wilderness. Oh, right, maybe they are coming back for it at the end of the walk. I'm sure this does happen, but not when the bag is still there the next day, the next week, or longer.

I found this tucked under a stump about half a mile from the parking lot...which has garbage cans. Contents? An empty soda cup, empty water bottle, and McDonalds bag. I took it with me and threw it out.

Some gear stats. Pack weight (minus food and water) was around 8 lbs maybe a little less. With food and water obviously it varied. Inov8 Roclite 315s and Drymax lite trail socks on the feet, same formula as trail running. GoLite Jam2 pack from the AT, I am making my own (and one for Nicole) from a Jardine kit so should have that ready to go for the next outing. Hiked without poles due to the umbrella, didn't miss them as there was no serious elevation change. That's all for now. Have good adventures.


Phollower said...

8 lbs? Ho-ly crap. I'm doing a 3 day 2 night trip in the Zaleski State Forest in Ohio in a few weeks and I'm hoping to get my base pack weight around 17 lbs. I'll let you know how it goes. I've been doing my dog walks (about 4 miles usually) with 2 gallons of water and a couple sleeping bags stuffed in my pack to simulate the weight I'm anticipating. It ain't ultralight and it ain't far but I'm working on it.

Dave Chan said...

Send me a gear list if you have one. Maybe we can shave a little more. You are lighter than most already!

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