Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Up to Big Bear Lake

Ziggy is ill with a chest type cold, but she and Bear greeted us as they were going to see the doctor for Ziggy. We had just crossed this valley of sand leading to highway 10 and the railroad where trains continuously pass loaded with 2 story high wagons of containers. The power lines are singing a terrible continuous energy buzz that would turn us insane if we lived under them. A sign said that if we saw a helicopter we should not proceed as apparently I learned later they lay power lines with helicopters. So we made it! Mile 210 and we are now camped above the Bear's laird.
They apparently bought the house just because it's near the PCT trail. As you walk in the yard you see that all is set up to welcome hikers which they do from early March to late June. We are the 703rd hikers this year, each hiker that makes the 100 mark (1, 2, 300 etc) gets a free meal, free resupplies … the gift that Bear & Ziggy would love to provide to all but finances won't allow. You should have seen the look of the hiker 700, he just could not believe it.
Pascal came back from the shower looking once again like a white man. His clothes washed smelled good and he brought us water as we camp just above the house near this lone tree providing poor shade. Nothing to eat but tiny dry grass. Bear took Pascal to town and he came back with 4 sports bags to replace the two panniers totally ripped he had initially made. Apparently he plans to put these on my back as a replacement. What was good is he bought two sacks of carrots and filled two big sacs of corn husks that people rip off the corn at the store. He even bought two corns and gave them to us … miam! We love it. Small compensation for the way he makes us work and live on this dry windy, oh so windy hill. The wind is so strong, no wonder they have windmill farms everywhere,thousands of them and that Pascal's green tent gets flattened by the gusts. Here at highway 10 the ocean wind channels itself prior to reaching the desert. Sometimes the reverse is true. There is never any respite from the wind. A reason for us leaving finally the next day after Pascal went out to lunch with Harriet and the heat passed.
The trail leads up a gully where there is an old windmill farm on the hill. The sound of the propellers is like a continuous moan of people you would be slowly torturing. It's the bearings and the sound of the wind on the propellers, but in a horror movie it would be just the right sound track for HELL. The trail is steep and suddenly we are over the pass into a new set of gullies and round mountain sides that seem endless. We did 8 miles and arrived in Whitewater, a very large stream bed of rocks with a good flow of water. There at the fall of night we camped with Emily joining us for the night.
Crossing a river is quite an ordeal
Next morning at the break of day Pascal got up and started preparing. Not yet used to the sports bags he fixed them poorly and I got a skin burn from rubbing on my front leg. He really should be more careful. The trail for the next 10 miles went over hill and dale as they say, mostly raw desert mountain stuff without any food and no shade. Finally we arrived at the Mission stream and there we were able to drink and rest. Pascal went bathing in the stream using our water bucket to create himself a shower. It's so hot that his rinsed out tee shirt was dry in just a few minutes. We are waiting for 4pm to apparently do another 7 miles … I can understand wanting to get to higher grounds where there might be grass, but really do we have to carry his stuff?
Well the 7 became a 20 mile day! Somehow the maps he has do not concur on the distance and especially not with the GPS he is carrying. Anyhow, we finally did stop and Dude joined us. A nice guy working out health and living style issues in his 50s. Very courteous and a gentle soul. I like him. He even went out to hunt for water so we could have a drink. I'm tired of this country where we cannot drink when we want.
Jimmy smiles as he lays to rest

after a hard day!
Well up the hills we've gone and are now at the door of Big Bear. Apparently Pascal in 1980 conducted the first Minitel experience full blown in Big Bear for the Intelcom 80 telecommunications exposition in Los Angeles. 
A big event that almost changed America. ATT wanted to equip all US homes with a minitel. Of course the French manufacturers were too greedy and wanted to manufacture the equipment instead of the ATT industries on licence. So the whole thing went down the drain, mostly because when an American says something, he'll stand by it in writing, while the French have this cultural habit of testing everything out in words and THEN writing what they believe was worked out in the conversation. A very different approach to business and one that creates clashes while both parties are “honest” in their behaviour.

Jimmy supervises the camp
Today and yesterday we did 12 and 10 miles respectively, Jimmy lays completely down and I'm concerned he might be over exhausted. I'll have to watch him and make sure that BRUTE Pascal understands. We are willing to walk but not kill ourselves carrying all his luxury! Imagine that, he cooks each night, makes himself hot chocolates and coffee with his thermos whenever he feels like it … and eats candies without sharing! He was nice today, leaning over his stick like a real sheep herder, waiting while we ate some scrumptious grass he found in a hollow.
Well, he will try to organize in Big Bear both our stay with Bruce and Stevie, the Love family who live beyond Cahon pass, only10 days from here; and our transfer to Walker Pass or evenKennedy Meadows. Hope it works out, I'm tired of this dry woodsy or deserted country where a donkey can't find a decent meal. No wonder I'm loosing weight as well as Jimmy. Nothing serious, possibly just a change into muscles, but still, 2 more notches in the belly strap is not nothing!
The daily walk in these hills is like walking in an art gallery. Nature has a way of transforming with it's “ageing” principle and events such as storm, thunder tearing bark off trees, mummifying sun and rain, so that at each turn there is another wonder to look at. Yesterday we crossed a marble mountainside, white and with veins that would do well in a bathroom. Here it's just a remarkable path called the PCT. The 10 plus miles we do each day enable us to change several times environments, between gullies, flat tops, sheer mountain ridges with vistas over the desert or climbing into the century old trees. It's something else than the 7 acres I was raised in …
Alright Jimmy quit fussing and lie down

Meeting a hiker friend on the trail

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