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Day 21

Day 21

Distance hiked today: 19.6 miles / 31.5 km.

We got some early miles in today, and we were planning to stop a few miles before the town of Big Bear to go in early tomorrow morning for a Nero day (nearly zero miles) - we'd booked beds at the hostel for tomorrow night. But as the day went on, we figured out the hostel allowed camping outside and had space tonight, and snacks were running low, so we decided to go for it and sleep in town. (Snacks are a different category than Food.) We hit multiple trail magics - a cooler with some snacks and pop, and later a bowl of apples and oranges with pop, welcoming us to Big Bear.

We saw a bit of black smoke in the sky and thought maybe it was a campfire - there were no forest fire notices posted. But as we got closer the fire got bigger and it was actually a wild fire that had just started. Fire fighting planes and a helicopter flew low overhead, and we still had 4 miles to get to the highway. We started walking very fast - luckily it wasn't too windy but we didn't want to get caught in it as it spread, not knowing exactly where the trail went by. At one point we could see the flames down in the valley, that's how you know you're too close. Bits of ash fell from the sky and the air smelled smoky as we were downwind of it, but the trail wound itself across to the next ridge and away from it. It was pretty cool to see the planes flying right over us though, dropping pink fire retardant, and we couldn't help but stop to take a video before resuming our speed-walking pace.

We reached the highway and got rides from trail angels into town. One of them we met hiking on the trail with his dog about a mile from the road - he apparently goes twice a day to walk down the trail and take any hikers he meets to town. Another car pulled up as we reached the road and offered us a ride as well, so we split up since we couldn't all fit in one car. I hadn't even had time to take my pack off and dry off the sweat before piling into the car - it was a sticky (and probably stinky) ride.

We set up camp behind the hostel, had showers, beer, and went for dinner at a Himalayan restaurant.

Total trail mileage: 266.1 miles / 428.2 km.

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