Water: half bottle from small stream; town beverages
It is town day and I am down to the dregs of my food bag. Sometimes this leads to happy surprises, like this morniing’s gneius move of using hot chocolate mix in place of milk for my raisin bran. Others not so much. Grey’s toritilla full of spam, barbecue tuna and honey is not to be reproduced. Especially not at home. I am now down to a lemonade packet, chia seeds and two old tortillas squished into one.
There are 10 miles until the road and no one is stopping to take pictures. Even Cotton, who tends to enjoy her morning camp time is gone; there’s nothing but a tiny clear patch where her tent stood last night.
A mile to go, and there’s a laminated sign on the ground framed with rocks. You are about 20 minutes from the I18, it says, listing phone numbers for local trail angels. I call Papa Smurf, whose number I have from a trail guide and also a sign I saw yesterday. Standing in the forest, days from the last town, it is jarring and amazing when he answers right away. I sent a resupply box to your house, I explain. I am about 20 minutes from the 18, and wondering how best to come get it. To my surprises, he’ll be there dropping off hikers pretty much right when we will get to the road. I practically run the last mile.
On the way to the City that is a tiny town, we drove by a dry lake bed, a lake shadow, that I could see way back from the trail. I ask if it’s like this because of he drought. But, no, Papa Smurf explains. Baldwin lake has Been dry for 8-10 years. Someone downstream supposedly bought the water rights and drained it. The actual Big Bear lake is 8-10 feet low, though, with the drought.
Papa Bear and Mountain Mama have been Big Beat residents for 25 years, and Trail Angels, helping hikers for the past four. They expend incredible energy during hiker season making trips to and from various trail-road intersections. They take us into their home and offer us, in order: bacon filled donuts; hot showers with fluffy towels; clean clothes while we do laundry; lunch; rides to the grocery store; dinner and margaritas; a place to sleep.
We walk around the grocery store in our borrowed pajama pants and t-shirts. A mix of Simpsons, Christmas and Christian themes. There are other hikers here too in borrowed clothes, baggy jeans and T-shirts from he hostel. I am overwhelmed by all the food. There’s so much I want to eat, so little I want to carry.
The house fills will happy hikers, happily full of food and yet more generosity of the trail.