11-13 January 2021
11 miles (+2,000/-2,000 feet)
The pandemic rages on, and Half Cookie and I have been going stir crazy. So we jumped at an opportunity to stay at a friend’s cabin in Big Bear, where we could change the scene and do some hiking.
Big Bear Lake hosts ski resorts and snow parks, but it’s been an incredibly dry winter in SoCal, and I was not expecting snow.
And that expectation was so strong that I left our microspikes at home.
In fact, there was plenty of snow, and it’s been such a long time since it fell, the trails were full of ice. This made hiking difficult, but we gave it a try anyway.
On the first day we arrived late afternoon, so we decided to do a there-and-back on our old friend, the PCT. We drove out to the trailhead on the 18 and started hiking south. It was really pretty!
It’s funny, I’ve hiked this trail before, but I didn’t notice how much the Mojave mingles with the alpine forest here.
We arbitrarily chose a place to turn around after a couple of miles to be sure we were back before dark. But near there was a strange landmark on my topo map called “Eye of God” so we had to check that out, too.
As it turns out, the “Eye of God” is a very cool-looking quartz rock formation that has been worshipped by the local Serrano people for the past 2,000 years.
Of course, we later learned that it was even more striking before white people showed up. Originally shaped like a dome, it was believed by locals to be an eye of God watching to ensure that people treat each other well.
Then it was dynamited in the search for gold in the 1940s.
After a nice break we headed back to our car.
The next day we tried hiking the Pineknot Trail to Grandview Point. But it is on a north-facing slope and quite popular, so the trail was trampled down to pure ice all the way up. Without spikes we gave up.
Instead, we headed to the Cougar Crest Trail, which is on a south-facing slope. There were snow patches here, too, but it was a manageable and wonderful hike up to our turnaround point at the PCT.
On our last day we did a walk by the lake itself. It was also covered in icy patches and kind of annoying, but we did get a nice view of the solar observatory right on the lake.
Then we drove back home to our pandemic sanctuary. I’m so ready for this to be over….