Mountain Weekend Part I: Big Bear

If you’ve been following along, you probably know that this past weekend was supposed to be a ski weekend where my sister, friend Lindsey, and I escape into the San Bernardino Mountains to use a Groupon and try cross country skiing for the first time. Since snowfall (and rain) have been nonexistent this winter season, there was not enough snow to use our Groupon. We predicted this would be the case and turned our skiing weekend into a hiking weekend. We met early on Saturday morning, loaded all of our gear into my car, hit-up Subway (to have a sandwich for later) and Starbucks (caffeineeee!). We hopped onto the 134 and we headed east on our adventure.

It was smooth sailing on the 210 East, given that it was early on a Saturday. Before we knew it we were ascending the 330/18 up into the mountains. We stopped a few times along the way to take pictures as the city below disappeared into the clouds. This is an odd analogy, but it’s like driving up into the sky, where the earth fades away and you’re now on this new world high above the inner world. Okay, I’m bad with analogies. But you get what I mean, right?

We passed Lake Gregory, and the Lake Arrowhead until we finally reached Big Bear. We drove along the north side of the lake where we stopped into the Big Bear Discovery Center. This is like a ranger station/ information booth/ children’s museum. The lady behind the desk inside was very helpful. She gave us maps and confirmed that our afternoon hiking plan was a good one. She also told us about the bald eagle nest and family that is on display along the Big Bear Lake.

This was a really great center and I highly recommend stopping in if you are visiting Big Bear. It’s clearly meant for kids but I loved it. They had animals, maps, things to touch and play with, and most importantly very clean restrooms. Ah yes, and a fun bear statue out front.

After we all got pictures with the bear, we drove further along the lake until we reached an area with picnic tables all along the water. We unpacked our Subway sandwiches and some other goodies we packed, and enjoyed a celebratory meal with this view:

After our meal we decided to check out the eagles that the ranger lady was so excited about. We finally found the eagle viewing station by backtracking a few miles. I couldn’t get any photos of the birds, because I wasn’t able to find them without the aid of a telescope. The rangers set up a bunch of telescopes (in the photo below) to help the public see these birds from a distance, so as not to disrupt their nest. We got to see 2 eagles, the mother and father, while the baby eagle was deeper in the nest out of sight.

Although I couldn’t get a photo of the birds, I was glad we stopped and saw them. The telescopes gave a crisp view of them. After bird-lurking time came to an end, we decided to begin our afternoon hike of Cougar Crest Trail (hike #36 in my 101 Hikes in Southern California book). The trailhead was right by the Big Bear Discovery Center.

This trail gave great views of the lake and people of all ages were climbing it. The closure you got to Bertha Peak, the more challenging it got. It’s great for people to go whatever distance they feel comfortable with, take some great photos and then turn and head back as there were beautiful views along the whole hike.

We made our way up to the Pacific Crest Trail (which runs from Canada to Mexico). We started to go up to Bertha, but grew concerned because of time. It was probably 3:45p (?) and the north (shaded) side of the trail had snow covering the path. The later it got, the colder and more shaded that part of the path became, and the icier and more treacherous it got. We turned back choosing the safer (and smarter) option.

Once we got back to the car, it was time to backtrack to Lake Arrowhead for a well earned dinner. Up next, dinner in Lake Arrowhead and Saturday night in Lake Gregory!

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