I woke up feeling a little off. I want to get back out, but I’m a little wary of being alone. It’s not like I’m crawling along the trail screaming “Hike with me for the love of god!“, but it’s been 200 something miles of it, and it gets a little old sometimes. But regardless I’m still loving it all and push it aside. It’s such a small thing in the grand scheme of the hike.
My dad and I went out to get some breakfast at Denny’s before I took off. I ordered all the food and felt absolutely stuffed when I was done with my food rampage. Hiking on a full stomach is hit and miss, today was definitely a miss. I felt pretty gross, but there’s trail out there to hike! Away! We stopped at a gas station so I could get a couple of new water bottles, and we drove on to Onyx so I could pick the trail back up after the closure.
My dad wanted to hike in a bit with me, which was fine by me. Company, yay! He made it in about a mile before calling it quits, which is a huge improvement over the last time he went in for a stretch. The dropoffs get to him however, I made sure to walk right along the edge to freak him out a little more. In reality the grade was really fair and was more of a gentle hill in comparison to some of the terrain you have to walk along on the PCT sometimes.
Soon I passed one of the hallmark trail magic sites on the PCT. These things are never where you imagine them to be. Whenever I saw pictures of the famous dumpster and couch, I thought it was mid-desert. Come to find out it’s right outside Big Bear, huh. I opened the lid and signed the register: “Please don’t snow please don’t snow please don’t snow – Chris”.
The trail dropped down into a calm little forest, it was really cool at first and I was really enjoying it. The dirt was so soft under my feet, the air was cold but not too cold, it reminded me of Washington. It wasn’t too long before I came up to Arrestre Camp. I wish I had brought extra food so I could spend an extra night here, because it was really cool. I checked the faucet and found the water was off, and the creek next to the camp was dry. I brought plenty of water in any case. I reluctantly picked up my pack and said goodbye to the cozy little camp site in the forest.
The miles ahead got a little weird. Sometimes you find yourself somewhere that just doesn’t sit right for you. I can’t explain it, but I got pretty weird vibes coming from the miles ahead for the rest of the day. Things were dead silent, and I was totally alone out here. Of course that will happen on the PCT, but today I wished it was just a tad more crowded. I wish I could say I brazenly hiked through flipping everything off along the way, but I was super uncomfortable.
I kept hiking until I found myself at a dirt road. I had two options: Follow the dirt road, or follow a trail that was directly across from where the PCT let off. The natural assumption is to follow the trail right? So that’s where I went. I hiked on happy to be gaining elevation on the opposite end of weird-vibe canyon, when things started to look a little off. There was grass growing on the trail. Not a lot mind you, but enough to make me think “Huh, that’s not normal”. But there were hallmark signs of thru-hikers, trail runner footprints and trekking pole holes dotting the sides. Maybe people just aren’t picking up the trail here as often.
I kept walking, crossed a bridge over the remnants of a river, and the trail just stopped. Yeah, this is definitely not normal. The PCT doesn’t do things like this, I’ve gone the wrong way. I doubled back, made note of more cougar prints, and made my way to the misleading dirt road. I guess the PCT follows along it for a ways, which is slightly uncharacteristic, but whatever. I’m on the right path now, albeit behind schedule.
After a while I got up in elevation out into more desert conditions, my favorite! But the damage was done, I was still feeling all weird from that little walk in the strange forest outside of Onyx Summit. Thanks jerk forest. And due to my little escapade off-trail, I wasn’t going to make it to the area I’d planned on camping at. I started to look for places to stay but nothing felt right to me. As I did this I kept looking over my shoulder: no hikers. Not a single person out here. That makes an already weird day even weirder.
The sun was setting over the out-of-place desert landscape outside of Big Bear as I pressed on. I found a few okay camp sites but still nothing that said “I’d like to sleep here!”. I eventually hiked into the sunset and was forced into camping by a dirt road near some residences. I set my tent up above a dry river bed and wasn’t feeling particularly hungry. I skipped dinner and hopped into my tent. What am I so nervous about? What’s the deal?
As I lay in my tent I hear donkeys hee-haw’ing in the distance and dogs barking. Am I camped near a farm?
I force myself to try to sleep. I think this is going to be a long night.