PCT Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog San Jacinto hiking hike California trek Big Bear Lake Mike’s place Paradise Cafe

Week 2: The kindness of strangers

In Neil's PCT adventure by runhikelaugh

13th to 21st May 2017, Day 7 to Day 15: 155 miles from Warner Springs to Big Bear Lake

The generosity of strangers has really made an impact this week.

I stayed a night at “Mike’s place”, which is a little off-the-grid house in the middle of the desert. They not only provide water, but also open their home up as a place to stay the night and offer beer and pizza!

PCT Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog San Jacinto hiking hike California trek Big Bear Lake Mike’s place Paradise Cafe

Mike’s place open to all hikers for beer pizza and a place to sleep.


PCT Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog San Jacinto hiking hike California trek Big Bear Lake Mike’s place Paradise Cafe

Sunrise leaving Mike’s place

Then after a 26-mile day, I was given mandarins by a man called Tim who was on a day hike but decided to stop and give away some food.

PCT Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog San Jacinto hiking hike California trek Big Bear Lake Mike’s place Paradise Cafe

Trail magic. Mandarins taste so good.

The locals in all the nearby towns support the PCT and really go out of their way to help the hikers out, as do many of the small businesses. One night, we had great beers and burgers at Paradise Café. Afterwards, they let us camp out on their premises for the night, and even gave us the key to the external restroom.

PCT Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog San Jacinto hiking hike California trek Big Bear Lake Mike’s place Paradise Cafe

Trail magic. Setup for sleeping at the café which had awesome burgers and beer.


PCT Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog San Jacinto hiking hike California trek Big Bear Lake Mike’s place Paradise Cafe

Looking out from fire closure area above Idyllwild.


PCT Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog San Jacinto hiking hike California trek Big Bear Lake Mike’s place Paradise Cafe

Camp site tucked away next to cave.

In Idyllwild, a beautiful little mountain town, the locals were genuinely interested to hear tales from the trail. I was offered a lift up to the trail head within a few minutes of arriving.

PCT Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog San Jacinto hiking hike California trek Big Bear Lake Mike’s place Paradise Cafe

Idyllwild town monument

Near a random road in the middle of the desert, I met a man known as Copper Tone. He’d set up his Isuzu truck and camper beside the trail to offer food and drinks to hikers, including a fantastic creaming soda with raspberry ripple ice cream! He was a great character to chat with. He hiked the PCT back in 2006. After working all over the world, he’s now spent the last 7 years touring round in his truck. He said that he plans to move up the trail and keep supporting hikers for another couple of weeks, expecting nothing in return.

PCT Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog San Jacinto hiking hike California trek Big Bear Lake Mike’s place Paradise Cafe

Trail magic. Copper Tone giving out root beer floats.


Great lookout

At a campground at Mile 246, I met a group camping nearby who turned out to be some kind of American patriots nationalist group. They were a bit intimidating at first, but it turned out to be a great evening. They welcomed four of us hikers with beers and cooked us up a massive steak BBQ feast. I managed to get back to my tent without signing up or getting any tattoos. After some googling about the group, it was probably good that I hadn’t stuck around with them for too long! I made a pretty early start the next morning!

PCT Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog San Jacinto hiking hike California trek Big Bear Lake Mike’s place Paradise Cafe

Coming into Big Bear Lake

At the highway near Big Bear Lake, another hiker and I hitched into town with a lovely local couple. It seems so strange to hitch as it is just not done in Australia, but the people in all these towns are happy to offer their help to hikers.

View back across Big Bear Lake.

Other than meeting all of these great people, I managed to summit Mt San Jacinto at 3,300 meters, put in a couple of 25-mile days, saw some beautiful sights and caught back up with some of the original hikers I started with for a great reunion!

San Jacinto pictures

The landscapes have really varied – from pine trees and snow fed streams to desert – including on different sides of the same mountain! Despite it nearly being summer, the tracks are still snow -covered at some of the high altitude passes. This adds some interesting navigational challenges! Luckily a lot of the snow has melted in these parts and it’s not as treacherous as it was a few weeks ago, when special snow gear was needed to traverse some of these areas.

PCT Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog San Jacinto hiking hike California trek Big Bear Lake Mike’s place Paradise Cafe

Bumble bee


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Maps

Where the bloody hell is he?

Pacific Crest Trail 2017 blog Big Bear

Image source: https://www.pctmap.net/maps/

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Progress

Day 7: 13 May 2017 –  Mile 110 to Mile 127, started hiking at 5:30 am, Warner Springs to Mike’s place, 10 hours of hiking.
Day 8: 14 May 2017 – Mile 127 to Mile 152, to Paradise Cafe for awesome beer and burger, 12 hours of hiking.
Day 9: 15 May 2017 – Mile 152 to Mile 166, to windy cave, 7 hours of hiking.
Day 10: 16 May 2017 – 18 miles, but not on the official PCT as I was diverting around a trail closure. Night in Idyllwild.
Day 11: 17 May 2017 – Mile 178 to Mile 181, back on the official PCT.
Day 12: 18  May 2017 – Mile 181 to Mile 201, plus 2 extra miles as part of the San Jacinto summit. Camped near 200 mile mark.
Day 13: 19 May 2017 – Mile 201 to Mile 226, camped at Mission Creek.
Day 14: 20 May 2017 – Mile 226 to Mile 246, massive climbing day from 3,000 ft to 8,600 ft.
Day 15: 21 May 2017 – Mile 246 to 266, night in Big Bear.

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