This post was written in my sleeping bag at the end of a long day. Please excuse any errors.
Scout, the trail angel we stayed with in San Diego, calls while we are at Ziggy and the Bears. Somehow, I end up on the phone with him, giving a snow report on San Jacinto and Fuller Ridge. It feels like a lot of responsibility, giving a trail report to a trail legend. He’s happy to hear that so many of us that stayed at his place are still hiking together, having a good time.
There’s a shuttle from Ziggy’s, up to Big Bear. We hear it’s snowing in Big Bear and it’s hard to get a bed in the hostel. A volunteer tells us there’s a whitewater preserve eight miles up the trail towards the closure. It sounds like a good place for a zero. The trail is beautiful and wild. We climb during the hottest part of the day, then drop down towards the river. We check in at the ranger station. She tells us there are problem raccoons and we should keep our food in the bathrooms. No big deal. And then she tells us they had an event a few days ago, and would we like the leftovers? We rustle through cliff bars and fun size twix like raccoons. Someone comments that fun size is the best size. “ Hey, I’m Fun Size!” I say, like an idiot. Saying “I’m anything” is dangerous when you are waiting for your trail name. Sure enough, within half an hour, everyone is referring to me as Fun Size. Guac, Shake’nBake and I cuddle puddle under the stars. We point out constellations, and then, suddenly, something furry moves in the field. Raccoon! Shake’nBake rattles a trekking pole at it, and it is unfazed. We shine our lights and yell, and it finally ambles off. Guac jumps ship soon after, then the raccoon drags someone else’s bag halfway away from their tent. Another raccoon is a few feet from our heads and I go into Bear defense mode, yelling at it. A little later, there is a raccoon at my feet, half in my backpack. In the morning, there is a bite out of my map ziplock, and my ziplock wallet has teeth marks in it. Then, our nero. A Nero is a day where you only walk a few miles. We decide to move two miles down the trail, hopefully away from the raccoons. As we are leaving, we experience incredible generosity yet again. A family enjoying Mothers’ Day invites us to join them. They feed us beer and mimosas, salad, fruit and seven layer dip. We say goodbye, then float down the trail towards the river, where we dip our feet in the cold water. My feet have grown over the past few days, and they shrink down as I soak them. Then it’s time to head back to Ziggy’s for the shuttle. The day heats up. There’s a bull on the loose and we can hear him calling. We bunch up and hike fast, freaking each other out on the blind corners. And then we are up on the ridge, and safe again.