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David's Latest

For your information, David has always had problems with his knees.  I
think he got that from his Dad.  Also, I noticed after forwarding his
last update, David has May mixed up with June.  Must be the altitude.

David's Dad

[11 June]
Back on the trail! Although I'm taking my time, I'm still making about 2
mph, partly because in this short 16 mile section there is water halfway
and I only need about 1 1/2 days of food. Although the knee tells me it's
there, it is no impediment at this rate. I have lost my acclimation to
altitude, so have some breathlessness and some dizzyness at this 7-8000
foot level.

I finally was able to contact Fred, one of the Big Bear Trail Angels, and
he was at the fire station within 45 minutes to take me up the road to
where I bailed two weeks ago! They definitely spoil us.

Right at the trailhead there is Cienaga Creek Ranch, which includes some
caged animals right by the trail -- I saw a black bear, but there are
also tigers, which I heard were used in the movie Gladiator (which I saw
in Big Bear).

A pleasant pace to Arrastre Trail Camp, with a pipe and spigot from a
spring.  Beautiful views south to Mt. San Gorgonio's north side, which
still has snow on it. Certainly this pace leads one to a different view
of the trail than 25 miles per day!

I arrive at around 1330 and devour an old Isaac Asimov novel, "Lucky
Starr and the Oceans of Venus", then nap all afternoon in this
self-imposed prison of a 6 mile day.  But I'm sure the knee will be
appreciative. I hear what sounds like young coyotes just over the ridge,
giving experimental yelps and cries.

Chris, Stacy, and Kelly, all very slim and fit, arrive on their way to
Mammoth Lakes region. They know all about kneecap tracking problems.
Chris and Stacey thru-hiked the PCT last year and Kelly is finishing up,
I believe, hiking the PCT in sections. They have hiked 24 miles up from
Mission Creek and sleep early in this beautiful canyon of boulders, sand,
spruce, and pine.

[12 June]
Bed early last night, but not deep sleep, because of my naps and the
chill in the air. Sometime between midnight and 0100, we are awakened by
an animal's cries high on one of the walls of the canyon.  It sounds as
though some predator has grabbed it. The prey is perhaps a bird, but more
likely some small mammal.  Although I have heard this sort of thing
before, this animal's cries are agonizing.  I could hear the fear in its
shrieks, then it would cry in a heart-rending "Owwwwwwwww" wail of pain
that spoke of sharp teeth and unbelievable pressure. The predator, mouth
full of broken bones and fur, is silent.  Gradually the noise fades as
the animal is overcome. Later I hear faint echoes of the same cries from
farther away. I gradually become aware of other, regular, short cries.
Perhaps there is a mate devastated by the loss. We are there, four large,
essentially defenseless mammals, but there is no animal there to feed on
us. But the overwhelming nowness of this experience makes it easy to
imagine what a grizzly attack might have been like back when this area
was inhabited by them.

Not much later that night, we are awakened once more, but these cries are
those of full-grown coyotes, again just over the ridge, and their high
yelps and communal cries are far different than the lonely, life-ending
cry of the prey from half an hour earlier.  Gradually the group song
spreads to other ridges, then as I drift back to sleep, is replaced by a
single, lower, more gruff voice that sounds like a combination of dog and

[12 June 00 cont]

Unwelcome morning eventually comes with its trail drudgery of breakfast,
stretches, packing.  But the walk is going well, still at 2 mph. My knee
feels pretty good, though not invincible. In fact, my legs never feel
invincible, powerful.  Those feelings are a luxury for short trips when
rest and recovery are a few miles away. Walking, for me at least, is more
like walking on eggs, trying carefully not to break anything, alert to
sudden pains, fearful of sudden wrench, portioning out stress and fatigue
carefully so that there is enough walking in the day, and enough by
tomorrow's rising for the new day.

Today the knee is good, but the compensation stress on my right leg has
led to a moderate tendonitis in my right Achilles tendon, so the legs are
compensating for one another, like the fox and cat pretending to
Pinocchio that they have complimentary disabilities. But this trouble
should disappear with ibuprofin, careful stretching, and easy walking.

The trail here circles Big Bear and its lakes, winding Northwest, along
both sides of Nelson Ridge.  The contrast is startling. To the south, dry
Baldwin Lake, trees, Big Bear with its huge dammed lake, boats, water
slide, tourist paradise.  To the north, extremely dry, bare hills
dropping down to the bare sand of the desert floor.

A quick ride at Route 18 from John, whose wife is a banker in San
Francisco, and I'm back at the patient Big Bear City fire station,
counting meals and drinking Pepsi in preparation for tomorrow's 5 days x
15 miles to the junction with busy LA artery I-15.

-- Dave

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