While on a thru hike, a “zero” is a day you don’t hike at all. I originally planned to take very few, if any, zeros but after a few hundred miles and two weeks of sleeping on the ground,my body vetoed my original plan. Luckily the next town I would reach would be Big Bear and it just so happened that our family friend and comedy writing legend Mike Rotman (Southpark, The Tonight Show, Politically Incorrect), owns a cabin there. After talking to him I realized that if I could make it from Idlewild to Big Bear in four days, the cabin would be unrented and I could stay there! The only problem is, that would mean I would have to average 25 miles per day for four days straight. That’s longer than I had backpacked in a day this entire trip continuously for four days. Although difficult, a warm bed and shower were all the motivation I needed to make it there on time. After four brutal days of backpacking I finally reached Big Bear and was able to take my first zero of the trail. The cabin and even the town were everything I dreamed of and I was able to spend the day going to a farmers market and boating on lake Big Bear. Early tomorrow it’s right back to the trail but now I am refreshed and ready to conquer the rest of the PCT. -Noel Nelson (mile 266)
I was told this was a high snow year for the west coast but I had no idea how much snow I would encounter this early into my journey.
When my alarm went off at 4:30 am I was already walking down the streets of Idlewild on my way to summit Mt. San Jacinto. In the first five miles alone I gained over 3,000 feet of elevation.
Once off the side trail leading from the town and back on the pct, I encountered my first bit of snow. It was a small patch about 2×2 ft. I didn’t think much of it but as I pressed on the snow patches grew in number and size. A few miles after reaching the pct I the trail was buried and I had to follow were the foot tracks of those who had gone before me.
While trudging through the snow I realized how slow it really was. I was moving at about one to one and a half miles per hour, half the speed I normally walk.
After three hours of steep uphill elevation gain without a trail I reached the storm shelter close to the top of the mountain. The stone hut made me feel as though I had stepped back in time. Although amazing, I still had to press on a few hundred more feet to the top of t
Finally, after hours of climbing I reached the top (10,834 ft above sea level). From this vantage point I was able to look across the desert and see how far I had traveled, as well as what laid before me.
My successful journey to the top was celebrated by eating my lunch with a view that most people only in pictures.
Although exhausting and time consuming, the feeling of accomplishment I got from climbing my first mountain in the PCT was enough to fuel my journey for the next couple days. Many people skipped the summit but I think going for it is the true nature of the trail. It is the nature of adventure.