Day 11: Big Bearrrrr

May 5
Mileage 17.5
Mile 248.5 to mile 266

I sleep so good in the cold and wake up to the pale dawn rising through the trees. I’m eating a leisurely breakfast of sunflower seeds and broken tortilla chips when TwinkleToes, Sherrif Woody and McButter walk up.

“So, ah, you taking an on-trail zero?” says McButter.

“This is why I camped up here,” I say. “So peaceful, no five a.m. alarms!” I am happy to see them and they regale me with stories of their haunted cabin while I pack up my bedroll. Then it’s off, down the trail… 17 miles to Big Bear, the sprawling town where we’ll resupply. And today is brought to you by the letter C… for chafe. Cracking chafe. My chafe is cracking, everywhere. My ass, my thighs, my back where my shirt rubs it. Zingers of pain while I walk. Splittling, cracking chafe. And my big toes- I think my feet have swollen too large for the toes of my injinji toe socks. Zingers of pain in my big toes. And I feel naseous and slow again today- like I want to fall asleep leaning on my trekkin poles. Like I want to curl up in the fetal position next to the trail. But then I take a shit and it’s almost normal. So there’s that.

There’s a cache with a couch and a giant metal bin of sodas on Onyx summit, where NotaChance spent the night, and we sit there and take funny selfies. The boys pound mountain dews. Then we pass the animal cages, where sad “retired” grizzlies and tigers pace in their sad cages, making sad noises. We trudge on and at last we reach the highway, where it’s super windy. We try to hitch but the wind batters us and there are four of us. We call the Big Bear Hostel, as they offer to shuttle people into town. The owner, Grayson, picks us up in his epic station wagon and gives us a mini tour, takes us by the grocery store. He’s super nice. At the hostel we find NotaChance, drinking beers in the sun with a bunch of other hikers who look like extras playing hikers in a movie. We ask the man at the front desk, Sarge, about a room.

“Four guys and one girl,” he says. “Can I watch?”

What the fuck? I think.

“No,” is all I can think to say.

“Please?” Says Sarge.

“No,” I say. “Creepy! That’s a really creepy thing to say.”

“No it’s not,” he says turning to the boys. “I tell ’em, you can either have goofy Sarge or professional Sarge.”

“Can you tell us how much the room is?” I say.

He gives us a room for four people for $88. It’s in the basement, with overhead florescent lighting, and the bathroom is across the hall. The room looks like a busted dorm room and one of the springs in my bed stabs me in the hand when I’m putting on the sheets. Later we learn that our friends got a room at the Snow Bear Inn down the road for $40 for four people. Dang!

We eat Mexican food at a place down the road for dinner. The food is weird and overpriced. This town seems sad. The forecast for tomorrow is rain and snow, a high of 44. Many of the hikers at the hostel are zeroing, and I kind of wish I could too. Zeroing is expensive though, and would cause me to fall behind my friends, who are currently attempting to be the fastest people on the trail. I don’t know. I just don’t know about any of it. I’ll sleep and decide in the morning.

Pics on instagram.

11 thoughts on “Day 11: Big Bearrrrr

  1. Please Zero! Do you want to be with the fastest group on the trail? It would be great to hear you say that you decided to hike “your” hike and anyone that happens to tag along is now part of your group. Stress is something that should be left at the monument at the start.

    About the creepy Sarge, there’s creepy people everywhere, ignore and move on. It will catch up with him someday.

    About the chafe, either buy some compression shorts or some body glide and apply liberally. I prefer the shorts. A good option is to tie something around your waist to soak up the sweat like a headband would (one or two bandannas, a tee shirt, anything you can muster).

    Happy Days!

  2. +1 for body glide, or if you can’t find it, even Vaseline will work. I would think about Neosporin as well. Chafe can get better or it can get out of control with infection, and then you’re really in a sad place.

    Love that you’re blogging again this year, but cringing a bit at your rough first week-plus on the trail. There’s a happy point in letting the distance come naturally. You of course can make these miles, but easing into them rather than risking an early blow-up may be wise. Dehydration will wreak havoc on your system; that may be what you’re still feeling. Hope all systems improve for you soon. Thanks for bringing us along for all the brutal and beautiful details of your journey.

  3. Best thing I ever found for chafe sounds nuts and momentarily hurts like hell, but always worked for me: Apply hand sanitizer to it right before bed. If you can make it through the splitsecond purefire, the chafe’ll dry out overnight. As a bonus, it kills off nasty beasties that may be lurking.

    You’re rockin’ it, Carrot. Thanks for the updates.

  4. I went through that hostel last season and also had an experience with Sarge. It was like meeting a middle-aged wannabe frat boy.

  5. When we are poorly nourished and poorly hydrated we make illogical choices. Don’t be angry with yourself, but learn from this. Heat is a big killer, one has died on the trail already. Heat is my biggest fear as I train for my own SOBO. (SOBO to follow the heat.) I am learning from you. Keeping up with friends is important, right? Except when your life is on the line.

  6. You’re hiking an incredible distance. The nature of this hike (as we learned last year) is to be brutal at the beginning, then settle down into something a titch less brutal – with only periods of brutality 🙂 Be nice to my old friend, Carrot – Carrot is awesome and deserves to meet this hike on Carrot’s own terms.

  7. You are killing it. Last summer I worked on the largest skatepark in the country, in brutal heat. the job site was so large, I must have logged multiple miles daily…. with heavy steel toe boots, and tool bags. The whole time I was thinking “this is making me a better hiker” or “It’s hot, I’m walking all day carrying heavy shit that i thought i needed… This is just like hiking”. I had my bout with heat exhaustion, dehydration, and definitely chafe. I also had the felt like every one was pulling it off except me. In any case, do what you want. On the trail, you are the master of your destiny. Anything 20+ day after is impressive to me.

    and any one who said the blog isn’t as good this time around, can go die. I think its awesome.

  8. My aunt lives in Big Bear, I could have arranged for you to have a place to crash had I known!

    I am new to your blog so can’t compare it to last year, but I am thoroughly enjoying your blog. I dream of doing a long distance hike (I live on the east coast so most likely the AT). I hope your trail experience improves as it sounds like you’re off to a rough start. Please stay safe and take care of yourself, and enjoy the journey!

  9. UGH that hostel employee…what a fucking creep. Your experience in Big Bear doesn’t seem that great so far which is too bad because it’s a really awesome little town. You are amazing, and if these friends get ahead of you I am sure you’ll find more.

    Oh and about the back chafe…I’m sure you already know how to deal with it and what works best for you, but wearing a really lightweight cheap nylon tank top underneath my hiking shirt works really great for me. It sounds disgusting and hot, but it’s not much different than just wearing one shirt (just make sure you get a light colored one). Anyway if you haven’t thought about it it’s just a suggestion.

    I hope you feel better soon, Carrot! I hate seeing you suffer!

  10. Hmmmmmm….goofy? Thanks for the heads up – note to self, avoid Sarge next year! Hope yr taking care of yr skin best you can. Thanks for writing after such hard days… can’t help it can you? It helps…..

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