Over the mountains and through the woods… to the desert is what we set out to do this weekend. This To Do list consisted of a day run in Big Bear, CA on Saturday and then Easter Dinner in the desert with a side dish of trails on Sunday.
Saturday 5:30 AM:
The Jeep was loaded and off we went to meet up with the day crew at the Big Bear Discovery Center. Currently the 330hwy is closed due to a major land slide that took out the road a year or so ago, so we headed to take the 38hwy up the mountain. The traffic was light and we made good time to Mentone, CA where we stopped to top off the tank to head up the mountain.The drive into the canyon was difficult because of the fog and we could barely see 50 feet ahead. Eventually we were above the low clouds and got to enjoy some really great views of the mountains.
We reached the Big Bear Discovery Center about 8:45 AM to meet up with some friends and we headed out to the trailhead, 3N61. Driving by Baldwin Lake (typically dry) it was amazing to see that the water level was at a level I had never seen before.
I planned a route for us to drive that was going to cover some good ground in the back woods and give us a chance to relax while driving the trails… nothing to difficult. Driving up 3N61 was a neat treat as the creek kept crossing back and forth and sometimes straight down. You could see that there had been a ton of water down the creek because the bushes were all water swept. As we drove up and intersected with the 3N16 we got to see another good view of Baldwin Lake and some old mine ruin contraption looking thing. Cruising by the northern side of Holcomb Valley Campground we came to an over-filled pond that kind of left us all stumped for words.
…. And we stopped at another photo op spot.
The next trail we headed to was a small spur trail off of the 3N83, I think. It headed pretty much straight up the side of a mountain weaving around a few small trees. At the top of the trail we had to walk around to see if there was another way we could go without back-tracking but we couldn’t find anything. However, the view of Holcomb Valley was breathtaking. I looked up the elevation on the GPS to find that we were parked at 7,800 feet overlooking Holcomb Valley and all the way across to Snow Summit, and beyond to the San Gorgonio Mountain, reaching above 10,000 feet.
It was about lunch time and the wind was kickin’ a little too much to eat on the peak where we were so we headed down to a nice clearing with some shady sunlight… and less wind.
Back on the trail we headed for 3N08 which was recently opened. It had been closed since the Slide Fire back in 2007. We had heard that the trail was recently opened for wood gathering from time to time but not always open. So down the trail we go… which seemed more like a tour of the devastation that the fire caused. It was sort of surreal to be driving in such a devastated area. There were good signs of new growth but no towering trees. Several trees have been cut down to help reduce the risk of “Widow Makers” coming down.
As we approached the intersection of the 3N08 to the 3N14 we discovered that the gate was still locked. We looked around to see if we could find a by-pass but couldn’t find anything so we had to head back up to the 3N16. And with that back-track we had to cut the rest of our planned trip short and head back to Big Bear Discovery Center. But not without taking some time to plant Axial Geocache #2.
After airing up the tires and saying our good byes to the crew. It was time to head for the desert to have dinner with the Desert Dawgs JC. According to the GPS coordinates that my friend gave me, I was headed somewhere out past Anderson Dry Lake. We found camp a little before sun-down and setup for dinner and a good night’s rest. Dinner was Pit Cooked Turkey, Mash Potatoes, Yams, Salad and some other goodies. They really know how to throw down on some grub…. I was stuffed.
Sunday 9:00 AM
I’ve Been up for a bit sipping on my coffee and it was time to head for some “new to me” trails called Ball Buster and Cork Screw. The night before there had been talk of me and my JK not making it through or at least receiving some body damage. Ball Buster is a bit intimidating at the start because of the water fall entrance but once your past that it’s a nice rocky cruise up the canyon… UNTIL you get to the next spot where I was for sure going to receive some damage… so I opted for making a by-pass line and got called a few choice names, but still relied on my Poison Spyder body armor to get me through.
After covering the Ball Buster trail the Desert Dawgs wanted to show me Cork Screw trail. And after watching the first couple guy’s run through I decided that my JK wasn’t going to stand a chance in that canyon. I told the crew that I was going to head for camp and meet them there. Along the way I spotted a geocache on my GPS and took a few minutes to go find it and sign the log.
The weekend turned out to be a great time away from the city and I enjoyed driving through the mountains and the desert all in one weekend.