PCT Day 9: Lake fire detour

April 30

Mile 201.1-210.8/252.1 (9.7)

The wind was still blowing this morning. We packed up quickly, brushing sand out of our sleeping bags and packs. Once on trail, we knocked out the last 5 miles of the descent off Fuller Ridge. There is a water fountain at the base of the mountain so we stopped to drink more water before pushing on across the long flat valley and under I-10 to Ziggy and the Bear’s.

Ziggy and the Bear are long-time trail angels who have transformed their backyard into a hiker oasis. They have some firm rules–no drinking, smoking, or swearing, and don’t come in the house unless invited–but are obviously very sweet and caring people. They have a donation box and a $5 handling fee on resupply boxes to cover their costs since they are on a fixed income, but no one is turned away.

Here, we considered our options for getting around the Lake Fire closure. Last year, a section of the San Gorgino wilderness burned, including 14 miles of the PCT. Unfortunately, because of the location of the burn, there is no viable way around it according to the PCTA–there is no official alternate. It is actually possible to walk around it, but it requires 50 miles of road walking, and much of that is along busy major roads with no real places to camp. Our other two options were to shuttle around it, skipping 50 miles of trail between Ziggy and the Bear’s and Onyx Summit, or to take our chances with hiking through the trail. An important consideration with hiking through is that, if caught, we could each be issued a $2500 fine.

So, three bad options. We wavered between them, swayed as new trail news/gossip came through. We heard the fire closure was hike-at-your-own-risk, then we heard six hikers got busted going through. We tried to work out another alternate but ran into dead ends. The longer I stayed at Ziggy and the Bear’s and listened to everyone discussing it, the more anxious and trapped I felt. We finally decided to take the shuttle and felt our hearts break a little to miss this section of trail. But at least we were moving on.

We take a sketchy/dangerous shuttle and then hop on the bus to go to Big Bear Lake. We get there around 8pm and, totally worn out, stumble into Papa Smurf and Mountain Mama’s house. There are a dozen hikers there, and Papa Smurf and Mountain Mama are still at work. The hikers welcome is, show us where to get dinner and ice cream, and we stake out a spot on the living room floor to sleep. There’s Shay and Stephen and Kristen, who came up on the bus with us today, and Scabs, Barbie, Two Shoes, Pough, Anders, Thumper/Robin, and more whose names I forget. I feel safe at the home of these true trail angels, so grateful for our little sanctuary on their living room floor.


One thought on “PCT Day 9: Lake fire detour

  1. Thankful for the Ziggy’s, Bear, Mountain Women and Papa Smurfs out there, not so much for the sketchy shuttle…. Anyway, the missed section while the area heals gives you an excuse to return, n’est pas?!? Keep on truckin’!

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