Day 17: Mile 248.2 – 266.3

Elevation gain: 1,738 ft

Elevation loss: 3,558 ft

Oh my goodness…today took some strange twists and turns that we didn’t see coming! We set the alarm for 5:30am to give us ample time to deal with today, but guess what…it’s still pretty darn dark at 5:30. So we lied there for another 20 mins before we started the painful process of changing clothes while it was literally freezing outside and you could see your breath in the tent. After the clothes, the shoes and micro spikes really needed to be put on because it was so icy outside the tent. But they were literally 2 blocks of ice even though we had opened them up to their max before going to sleep. So Bri put them over the Jetboil flame in an attempt to defrost them just enough to jam our feet in there. That happened after a few attempts, but lacing them was another story. I was yanking on them soo hard in order to pull them through the holes that a bunch of them frayed, but at least I have new shoes to switch into next week. Two nights in a row of sleeping on snow was rough…we are going to have to look into a 4 season sleeping pad before the Sierras for sure!

We got ourselves into a little bit of a predicament for today. Since we were only able to get 10 miles in yesterday, we now had over 18 miles to get to Big Bear. We had planned on picking up our resupply box at the PO today, but here’s the kicker: they close at 4:30pm. And since we were able to only cover 10 miles in snow yesterday, why did we think we would be able to hike 8.4 in snow and THEN another 10 with, hopefully, minimal snow? Well, all we could do was try because we would be eating bars and flat fruit for dinner if we didn’t make it. So we left camp by 7am, knowing we would have minimal stops, and hoping this snow travel would be a little easier. Thank goodness it was!

Shockingly, we were able to get to the spring at 10:45…we will take that 2 mph pace in the snow any day! It was super helpful that the snow was still icy and hard up until that time. We were able to take the micro spikes off a couple miles before the spring because the snow was becoming patchy and the weight of the spikes just adds to the difficulty sometimes. We started talking about staying in Big Bear if we were able to pick up the box…a warm bed and tasty food sure did sound fabulous!

We were back hiking before 11:30 after doing all our chores…it was looking possible to make our deadline! The snow continued to come and go on the trail, even after having 1/2 mile stints of just dirt and we were thinking those days were done…PSYCH! We leap frogged all day with a hiker named Prickly and he said it best about 50 yards ahead of us, “WOOHOOOOO, DIRT!!”. Pretty much summed up our feelings as well!

So the miles passed, and then all of a sudden we made it to Hwy 18 at 2:45…we were definitely on a mission, and shocked that we were able to keep that pace for that many miles in a row! But that was the part that was in our control, now we switched to everything being out of our control which is way harder. We needed a 10 mile ride to the PO, so we checked for Ubers but there were no cars. Called taxi places…nothing available, shuttle…not running. We were starting to panic a little bit. Hitching would have been the first choice but with everything going on, that was now our last resort and who knows if anyone would ever stop anyway. AHHHH…we were definitely concerned. We crossed the hwy and saw a sign posted by the trail head saying that all lodging in Big Bear is now closed…so we had to let that pipe dream of a cozy bed sail away. That’s ok, we really just needed the food! There was a number to call for Dial-a-ride on the sign so we had one more chance. At first they told me they had no drivers available but I must’ve sounded good and desperate because after a few mins of talking, he said he could have someone pick us up!! Oh my gosh, the flood of relief was phenomenal! So the guy picked us up at 3:15, we put our masks on and boarded the shuttle which threw us right back into reality. There was a heavy plastic shower curtain hanging around the driver so that you could hardly see him, there was yellow caution tape around every other seat so that only a few were available with signs every where about stuff you could and couldn’t do. It was so eerie and uncomfortable feeling that I realized afterwards that I didn’t even snap a pic of it. Bri and I know how absolutely awful this virus is for everyone, but on the PCT we are really in our own little isolated bubble where no one talks about it at all. It’s like we are living in 2 totally separate worlds and I just hope everyone can stay healthy and safe till it’s all over!♥️ Anyway…the driver waited while Bri went in to get the box, and then drove us back to the trail head which was the most amazing thing ever…plus it was FREE! The only bummer was that we had hoped to pick up some extra food in town, but we couldn’t take the chance on not getting a ride back to the trail, so we had to forego that idea too.

So now you’re thinking this story is coming to an end, right? Wrong! We were back at the trailhead at 4:00 when we realized that since we couldn’t stay in town or even go into a store, that we didn’t have anymore water…crap! Should we go backwards on the trail and grab some snow we saw quite a bit back, or hope to find some further up the trail? We just didn’t know how long it would be and we were so ready to find a campsite and chill. That’s when we saw Poptart and Quotes come down the trail (we had just met them about a mile back). They were waiting for their family to pick them up so we took a chance and asked if they had any extra water, and they DID!! 2.5 liters and already filtered…this is GOLD!! As Bri always says, “the trail provides”…and it did! So now we had water for dinner, plus water to brush teeth and for coffee in the morning. We just walked about a half mile to the first flat spot we came to, and decided that would be home for the night.

So now you’re thinking the story must be over, right? Wrong again…we took all the resupply food out that we had just picked up and found out we only had 3 dinners instead of FIVE! We were so meticulous about all our planning, but when we had to change the first 5 boxes since we weren’t going to be watching Maddie/Cal play Vb every weekend, we must’ve miscalculated somewhere. Another UGHHH! So we will be splitting one dinner in half, and having bars (if we have any left) for dinner the last night before getting picked up by our friends Amy and Joe. The good news is that the pick up place is at a McDonalds that is only 1/2 mile from the trail so I am already planning my meal even though I probably haven’t had McD’s in a decade or more. Right after dinner is when Prickly showed up…he had made it back from the PO as well. He then proceeded to light up a cigarette to celebrate his day, and he’s not the first hiker we have seen do that. He’s the fourth which is so surprising that their lungs are able to work this hard …shocking! We really enjoyed Prickly’s company, he is quite the character and had us rolling with his crazy stories. Hopefully we will see him later down the trail. Well, this unbelievably long story has finally come to an end…thanks for reading! Amy