Short walks in the Big Bear Valley

We’re not crazy climbers or munro baggers like quite a lot of people we know, but we enjoy walking. The longer the better, so long as there is chocolate in the bag. And while there are many possible hikes around LA, the ones we prefer were shut due to the wildfires last autumn, and have stayed closed because of potential mudslides. Also, while it may occasionally snow (or, more accurately, hail) in Malibu, it’s unlikely to stay on the ground. So, for some winter walking, we had to head to the mountains. The San Bernadino Mountains. More specifically, Big Bear Valley.

Getting out of LA is one of these things you have to do after you’ve had a serious breakfast, for you never know how long you’re going to be stuck in traffic. Especially when on a holiday weekend. Getting out of the lab is even harder when your boss has forgotten that you’re taking a long weekend and arranges for lab meeting on the morning you’ve planned to leave. Kicking him in the heid doesn’t seem to be an acceptable practice here, but I was sorely tempted. But, we got lucky and no one else seemed to have Martin Luther King day off, and the 10 was remarkably clear:

Choices, choices
The 10. Jam-free.

We stayed in a lovely cabin about 20 min downhill of Big Bear Lake. I quite like the all-mod-cons cabins of California. Some will pff and scorn the decadence of hot running water and warm, raised beds of our choices, preferring to huddle together in 2-man tents with all-season sleeping bags that smell like you forgot to air them since your last camping trip, which you probably did. I laugh. And get out my mug of hot chocolate and let my walked-out legs relax in a warm bubbly bath. The major selling point of the Cienaga Creek cabins was access to dog-friendly trails on the property. Second-highest on the list of amenities that swung favour its way was the in-room jacuzzi. The most awesome1 thing about the cabins we have stayed in to date has been the hot tub. There really is nothing better than having a good long soak after a day of running about in the woods2. And the third selling point for me: a swing. All cabins should have a swing. If not, at least a hammock.

Having a nice cabin to retire to at the end of the day allowed us the luxury of getting dirty, muddy, slushy on the trails. And so we did. The cabins were surrounded by acres of forest, some of which hooked up with the Pacific Crest Trail. If you’ve ever read Bill Bryson’s Appalachian adventures or any account of hiking American long-ass trails, you’ll understand when I tell you I was on the constant lookout for bears. But in the end, tigers were all we came across3. Around Big Bear Lake were littered a dozen or more Forestry-managed trails. Walking paradise…

And they're off
Butt view

shiva, eat your heart out three-headed monster shadow ballet
shiva monster pas de deux

i heard something
Chase?

There they pose again
Top of the Cougar Crest Trail

Negotiating
Negotiation

Snowchild
Snowchild

P and D
Alpine Pedal Path (pedals not included)

Tundra
Lakeside tundra

Flare
Flaring up

Many more photos here. But no answers to life, the universe or anything.


1 If I may be permitted Californisms on this weblog.

2 I shall save photos of semi-naked people swanning about in hot tubs for a naturist site instead. I’ve already had to scour my eyes out this week.

3 Dog anecdote. First night. It’s dark, it’s 5 deg under, we both have frozen butts and she’s refusing to “go to toilet”. We’re headed back in when we hear the most ferocious roar. It’s blood-curdling. Evil in its intent. It means: “Prey. This is all the warning you will get. I’m coming for you.” It repeats several times. The dog pisses herself. Literally.4.

4 I find out later that there are lions, tigers and bears half a mile from our cabin.

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