10.9 miles into Big Bear
At 5:30 in the morning, it was 32.7 degrees- too cold to get up. I fell asleep and woke up abruptly at 6:30, feeling I had really overslept! It was still only 33 degrees. I searched my food bag for my poptarts and couldn’t find them! They were missing! How could that be? I tried biting into a power bar, but it was frozen. I packed up, put on all of my clothes, and then tried to break down my tent. My hands were frozen and pulling the stakes out of the ground was incredibly difficult. I kept telling myself that this state of discomfort was only temporary. I had 11 miles to reach the highway to hitch into Big Bear, and then I could get warm. A couple of miles away, I found the Swedes and Corey and Mountain Man sitting around a campfire.
It would have been so nice to stay there last night, but it was a bit too far for me. I joined them for a couple of minutes while they ate their breakfast and Robin thawed out his frozen water. He was antsy to get going, but needed to pull Rasmus away from the fire.
During the climbs, my body heated up and I stopped to peel off some layers. The Swedes passed by, but I caught up to them again when they had to attend to their newly formed blisters from wearing their warm sleeping socks while walking. I had learned that lesson on the AT… I couldn’t seem to keep warm enough on the flats and descents and my nose kept running. Then, it started to hail again.
When the Swedes passed me again, I said that maybe if we were close enough, we could get a ride into town together. Their pace was much quicker than mine, however, and I found it too stressful to keep up. I sat down on a rock and gave up on the idea of hitching with them. (I had to remember I was absolutely fine on my own).
When the road finally came into sight, I saw a white truck sitting there. Then, I saw the Swedes pacing back and forth! Maybe they were waiting for me! I quickened my pace. When I was withing a couple of minutes of reaching the road, they jumped into the truck and it sped off! Nooo!
Oh, well… Maybe they didn’t see me after all. I walked across the road and dropped my pack on the gravel. It was sleeting. I stuck out my thumb and every car that passed by ignored me. Then, the sleet turned to hail. I wish I was better at hitching! Finally, a car turned around from the other direction and the driver told me that he usually doesn’t pick up hitchhikers, but something in his gut told him to pick me up. He told me that you have to listen to that feeling when it happens. I was so thankful!!
They dropped me off at the Nature’s Inn. The owner wasn’t around and the housekeeper wasn’t sure what room was available. I left my pack in the office and headed to Thelma’s, which turned out to be quite a distance away! That didn’t make me so happy. It was still extremely cold out and I was all bundled up. However, when I sat down and they said I could still order breakfast (at 1pm), everything was okay! Andrew and Ted came in and sat at the counter. They barely acknowledged me, which was a bit disappointing. A local started chatting with me instead, which was fine by me! I asked him if this cold weather was typical here in May. He said it was.
For the rest of the day, I couldn’t get my body temperature to regulate and my nose wouldn’t stop running! The freezing cold weather had made me sick! I wasn’t even three weeks into my hike! I took a shower, started rinsing the dirt out of my clothing, and started to sort through my resupply box. I also let my AT friend know that I was in Big Bear and tried to make some plans. He was not giving me much of a response, however!
I found a little place to eat near the laundromat and had a barbecue chicken sandwich and tea for dinner. I was still feeling very cold and sick. Again, I chatted with the locals and met the guy who invented mountain bikes! Then, I went over to the laundromat to wash my clothes. The news was on and I learned that they had found the missing men! They were where I suspected they would be- on a different side of the mountain they had climbed. They were all in very good health and spirits and I found it quite stunning that I was the only one to have a cold when I had a sleeping bag and warm clothes and they were out in T-shirts and shorts! I returned to my room, tried to let the irritation of getting no response from my upcoming visitor go, and filled up the bathtub with hot water and bubbles. I hoped a night of sleep would help my body recover.
Several hours later, I heard Muk Muk’s laugh on the porch! She and UB had made it in.