PCT 2019: Day 24, Big Bear Lake to Little Bear Springs Camp

Bertha, don't you come around here any more

I was up early this morning and began packing by 5:30. An early start was needed because I was assigned to the first group of hikers at the hostel who were returning to the trail today.

So many hikers were returning, our shuttle driver would need to make two trips to the trailhead to drop off all of the hikers.

Rainbow Sherbet, MJ, and Grommet were also assigned to the first group.

DateWednesday, April 17, 2019
WeatherCloudy to partly cloudy with a high temperature in the low 50s, occasionally breezy
Trail ConditionsSteady climbs and descents; some burn areas
Today's Miles19.5
Trip Miles285.6

Just before leaving I said goodbye to Tengo Hambre and thanked him for joining me. It had been fun to hike with him for the first ten percent of the trail.

I knew I would miss him, and I also think all of the tramily members felt the same way.

Our driver dropped us off at the trailhead at 7 a.m.

Cold, damp and blustery weather made the mood gloomy as we started hiking.

The trail started out flat for the first 2.5 miles, then began a modest climb up Bertha Ridge.

As the climb continued up the ridge, the view was muted by gray, low-hanging clouds. It was uninspiring.

The trail then entered a large burn area. It had been devastated two years ago in what was called the Holcomb Fire.

About 1,100 firefighters, armed with a full arsenal of firefighting trucks, bulldozers, planes and helicopters, were needed to contain the fire. More than 1,500 acres were burned.

This section of the trail was left so barren by the fire it was difficult at times to pick out where the trail was supposed to be.

By noon, the hikers who were in the second shuttle ride from the hostel were catching up to me.

Just Awesome was one of the hikers who passed me, but he was not hiking with Steel Belted. JA told me Steel Belted had gone off trail for a few days to meet his wife.

Climbing to about 7,800 feet, the trail crossed a few small patches of snow. There wasn’t enough of it to cause me to slow down.

Helping matters, the sun was finally making an attempt to shine through the clouds. The clouds never cleared away completely, but the sunshine improved the mood.

I stopped for lunch at Caribou Creek.

Higher up Bertha Ridge, I caught a view of Big Bear Lake and a ski resort on the other side of the lake.

From here the trail made a series of moderate ups and downs.

There were a few more patches of snow before the trail started down a long descent.

Another large burn area opened up as the trail left the ridge. The fire had been severe enough here to cause some erosion. Jagged rocks covered the trail.

Dark clouds were moving in and I began to wonder if it might rain. It seemed likely.

The descent was mostly gradual as it went down to Little Bear Springs Camp.

I was the last hiker to reach the campsite, but that was nothing unusual.

Little Bear Springs Camp was maintained by the U.S. Forest Service and had a fenced area for horses.

I was surprised to see that a couple people had set up their tents in the fenced area. There were no horses here today and maybe there hadn’t been any here recently. Nevertheless, did they not know that horses don’t care where they relieve themselves?

I set up my tent and ate dinner quickly. The evening was turning cold, but fortunately there wasn't much wind and the rain I thought was coming never materialized.

Perhaps it was just as well the weather and trail conditions made the day dreary. I was able to focus on hiking and that made it easier to hike faster.

I had a hard run
Running from your window
I was all night running, running
Lord, I wonder if you care
I had a run in
Run around and a run down
Run around the corner, corner
Lord, I ran smack into a tree

I had to move
Really had to move
That's why if you please
I am on my bended knees
Bertha, don't you come around here any more

From “Bertha” by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.