Holcomb Creek

Cougar Crest Trailhead to PCT Halfmile 297.7
(22 miles, +2,100/-4,000 feet).

Today Half Cookie and I were supposed to be hiking the Tonto Trail in the Grand Canyon today.

So why aren’t we, you ask?

Because of our dear President.

He has scared everyone, calling Mexicans “rapists” and threatening ICE deportations and complaining about immigrants “breeding.”

As a result, tax-paying legal migrants and refugees are afraid to use the free government services to which we are all entitled.

That means the ESL classes Half Cookie teaches to refugees have fewer students in them.

And that means these classes no longer qualify for a substitute teacher for the three days she was planning to be gone on our trip.

Rather than cancel classes and abandon her students, Half Cookie and I abandoned our plans to go to the Grand Canyon.

But we won’t let that asshole in the White House ruin everything.  There is still beauty in this world, so we planned a shorter trip and put ourselves in the way of 40 miles of the PCT here in SoCal.

We started at the Cougar Crest Trailhead just north of Big Bear Lake.  The last time I did this section it was in snow, so I was eager to compare it now that the trail is snow-free.

It was still pretty cold when we started half an hour before sunrise.

What’s so funny?

But the first two miles were a 700 foot climb and soon we shed our outer layers.

Getting warmer

Just before hitting the PCT there is a lovely view of Big Bear Lake and San Gorgonio, the tallest mountain in Southern Calfornia.

No bears 😦

At the junction it’s kind of confusing so someone left a helpful note.

Go thataway!

The hike today was pretty easy after our initial climb, with a long slow descent to Holcomb Creek.

Psychedelic deceased cedar
Half Cookie takes a stretch break
Lovely views of Baldy and Baden-Powell far to the west
Into the burn zone

Shortly before lunch a (non-rattle) snake startled us.  I almost pushed Half Cookie right into it!

Ha ha, got away!

We found a nice shady spot near Holcomb Creek to eat our sandwiches.

Lunchtime view

After lunch we climbed away from the creek.  Although it was in the 60s, the sun was pretty intense, making it feel much warmer.

Hot and dusty

I was surprised at how many flowers we saw today since it has been dry this winter and I thought we might have already passed the best time for blooms.

Even a big pile of deadwood can’t stop me!
Budding oak leaves
Back out of the burn zone
Lots of yellow flowers everywhere

Soon we were back down to Holcomb Creek, which was much easier to cross than it was during my record-breaking-wet-winter hike.  We saw lots of thru-hikers here collecting water and warning us about the poison oak all around.

First crossing
Third crossing
I guess some parts were still hard

The afternoon became chilly again once the angle of the sun lessened the intense light, and by 6pm we were looking for a place to camp.

At exactly 22 miles for the day, we crossed through a flat section right above Deep Creek and found a nice sandbar where others had camped.  It was a little windy, so we were happy to have some protection from the manzanitas that dotted the area.

This looks good!
Nighty night!

I was really happy we had such an easy 22 miler today.  It was a new PR for Half Cookie and a stark contrast to the 7,000 foot climb we did on her first 20 mile day.

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