I have a food resupply box waiting for me at the post office in Big Bear as well as a pair of super-light camp shoes I ordered online while in Idyllwild. The shoes aren’t there yet, so I stay in Big Bear for two zeros. One too many. When I finally hit the trail, I feel out of it. I want to hike 10, but I hike 15 trying to find a place flat enough to sleep. The wind is blowing hard again and the temperature has dropped significantly. I find a spot to set up my tent and attempt to hide from the wind. For hours, I’m basically wearing my tent as it nearly topples from the gusts.
At 5:50am there’s ice in my water bottle. I put on all the clothes I have and hike like crazy to get warm. It works, but I also notice a pain in my right ankle. I often have small aches and pains that come and go. I figure this is similar. After 8 miles, I stop for breakfast. I do some stretches, but the pain is still there. I find a stream and soak my leg in it. The cold water feels good, but only temporarily. After another hour of hiking, I’m now mostly limping, going a desperate 1 mile an hour. I look at my map. At this pace, I’ll barely make it to Deep Creek Bridge before dark. I hobble through beautiful boulder gardens, over the bridge, and down to the creek below. Families are picnicking between the rocks on the sand. There are 4 other hikers preparing their spots for the night. I find a flat patch of dirt and pitch my tent. As I make dinner, I hear an ethereal resonance. I am struck by music as if it were a foreign thing. Ewok has been hiking with a 20lb steel drum called a space drum and together with the night critters’ chatter, he lulls us to sleep.