Darko and Tater Weather a Snowstorm

Our week of luxury hiking continues, and we're at a place in Big Bear for the weekend relaxing while the weather does crazy things around us.

After we left Palm Springs, we had a couple days of nice weather and beautiful mountains in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, then the San Bernadino Wilderness.  But on Wednesday night, temperatures started to drop, and over night our water froze through, which means it was well below freezing for most of the night.  We had initially planned to hike in to Big Bear on Friday, but we'd moved a bit faster than expected (starting to get our legs I think?) so made it in on Thursday afternoon.  It's a good thing, because along the way we watched a storm roll in that dropped at least 2 inches of snow overnight and continued throughout the day on Friday!  Other parts of the trail got more, and apparently these late snowstorms happen in the SoCal mountains on a relatively regular basis.  Things that would've been nice to plan for...

We dodged the bullet of sleeping in the snow, and in fact ended up in a ridiculous situation instead.  Along the trail outside of Big Bear was a sign for a Trail Angel's house (Papa Smurf and Mountain Mama's) offering rides, shelter, food, and drinks, so of course we called.  It turns out that these people offer some of the purest hospitality imaginable - just a couple of salt of the earth types who take hikers in and let them have the run of the first floor of the house.  There were about 8 of us that night, and they've housed and fed more than 80 people this year already I think! 

On top of the normal amazing hospitality there (home cooked meal, bunks to sleep on, free wifi, drinks...), the scene turned totally ridiculous as it was one hiker's birthday (Courage, from Japan) and Papa Smurf bought a cake and ice cream.  On top of that, there were a couple Canadian Bikers doing "The Sierra and Cascade Route" which roughly follows the PCT north who were expert scavengers and spent the day calling around to businesses asking if they had food they were throwing out that they'd be willing to donate to a house full of hungry hikers.  The haul?  About 5 dozen donuts and two giant bags of potato chips!

We slept inside, thankfully, because when we woke up there were several inches of snow on the ground - an issue we didn't anticipate in Southern California!  We made the most of the day by making snowmen, and sitting around eating.  Consequently, the topic of trail names came up, so we started doling them out to everyone who didn't have one.  Kay, who came in from the snow at 6:30 am, became "Popsicle".  Walker became "Diatom" (kind of a long story), and the Canadians Marshall and Hillary became Scavenger and Donut.  We've gotten the question about our trail names multiple times: in my opinion you can't just name yourself, and you have to wait until the trail provides for you, so it wasn't until yesterday morning that we got ours, and Angel and I were officially christened Tater and Darko, respectively.  Tater because that's a hilarious name, and Darko b/c Scavenger thought I look like the main character in the movie Donnie Darko, which is to say hiking has turned me into a handsome young Jake Gyllenhaal.  When you're a couple the names have to work together, and I like the ring of Darko and Tater.

Since then it's been mostly relaxing - we got a ride w/Papa Smurf to our Worldmark in Big Bear Lake, went to the grocery to resupply, showered, did laundry, etc.  Today, Mom, Dad, and our niece and nephew Natalie and Jason are on their way over from Vegas to visit, so we're looking forward to seeing them in a few hours! 

There are more pictures up on Flickr - I tried to upload some here, but the computer here is giving me issues.  Have a look at the link here: Section C