Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears.... Really!

May 15: Today was filled with interesting sights, but nothing particularly noteworthy actually happened, if that makes any sense. The weather was cool at heights around 8,000 feet above sea level, and the occasional patch of snow could be found covering the trail, but they were small and not even noteworthy except for their complete lack of noteworthiness. =)

At one point on the trail, I found an envelope enticing hikers to open it. I was a bit leery--a practical joke of some sort? But it only contained a register along with a page about the history of the area and notes about a water cache just up ahead and a food cache a little further past that. The registry entries were hard to read due to the crappy pen, so I contributed a new pen to the register. I'd been carrying two of them since Campo, and it was about time I lightened my pack a bit.

The water cache was a water cache, but the food cache..... OMG! What a wonderful place to discover! The hostel in Big Bear, it seems, set it up, with all sorts of fruits, snacks, cookies, drinks. And they even provided a couch--a real, honest-to-goodness couch with cushions to sit on. A frame was hung from a tree--a 'television' of sorts, but it appeared broken since only the Wilderness Channel came in clear. Some hikers stepped up on an ice chest to get their photos taken with the frame around their head. And they even had a newspaper for reading. And toilet paper.... if other tasks were necessary.

It was a wonderful surprise. I heard rumors of a couch on the trail somewhere, but I assumed it was a joke or just one of those rumors that get started but end up having no truth in it. But no, the couch really does exist, and it's incredibly comfortable to sit in. I stopped for a few hours, chatted with other hikers, and even read the newspaper.

Regarding the newspaper, I learned that Barbara Walters had a valve replaced in her heart or something to that effect, which I only note because the night before, I had dreamt that Barbara Walters had died. For the most part, hikers go to sleep at sunset and rise at sunrise, which means I've been getting a good, solid ten hours (or sometimes more!) of sleep per night. I think my head gets bored with all of that sleep, however, because I remember far more dreams when I'm hiking than I ever do in the "real" world. A month can go by in the real world where I don't ever remember a dream, but I seem to have a lot of dreams on the trail, and I remember a great many of them. And for some bizarre reason I can't explain, I dreamed of Barbara Walter's death. Then, later that afternoon, learn she's undergoing a heart valve replacement. Not death, but not really far from it either. Hmmm.....

Now about those lions, tigers, and bears. The trail approached a fence, which isn't too uncommon, but then I noticed a tiger pacing on the other side of it. A tiger?! What the...? Getting closer, the trail followed the fence, where I found more animals including bears (a grizzly, even!) and a lion. This zoo of sorts didn't show up on any of my maps, and I didn't really know what to think of it. I didn't see any people around, and it didn't look like a zoo. What is this place? I'm still not entirely sure. One bear appeared to be scratching its back on the chain link fence enclosing it, and the cages seemed awfully small for such large animals.

Later, I heard from hikers two different stories about the animals--the first being that they are retired circus animals, and the second being that they are available for rent to use in movies, TV shows, or commercials, or whatever they need. Which is true? I have no idea. Maybe neither of them.

I also heard stories of hikers who got near this zoo and set up camp in the dark of night, not realizing such large animals were nearby, then spent the night scared for their life after hearing the lions roar. I could imagine that would be a little disconcerting!

Near the end of the day, I set up camp on an open hilltop about five miles short of the highway into Big Bear. It was a wonderful little location, and I ended camped by myself. Most of the other hikers I'd seen during the day wanted to camp closer to the road. I'm not sure where they camped, but I had wonderful 360 degree views and watched the sun set.


Anonymous said...

A quick google search bring up this - . Sounds like they take in injured animals that cannot be released back into the wild.

Okie Dog said...

Oh, Ryan, I thought you were going to tell us you found a letterbox! This sounds like a much better find than that. Great pictures!! Wow! I can almost see you on that mountain top watching the sun as it goes down. Great choice.

Hart x6 said...


All you left was a pen?? Don't you have a box or two of AQ-pencils you could've donated??


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

That Big Bear hostel is very generous! Sometimes these thru hikes sound more like a ride at Disney World, but with free food, drinks and transportation along the way.
That sofa even looks like an antique!

When I lived in California I camped up at Big Bear with my family a lot. Good times.

Poor lions and tigers and bears, though. That cage is tiny!
I would have enjoyed camping nearby and falling asleep to the sound of them growling. But of course, I love to fall asleep by the sound of the coyotes right outside my window.

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers