Big Bear was my birthday destination some twenty years ago, back when the 100 mile trip took only an hour and a half. But with traffic, over the years the mountain venture was just too tedious to take often. I had found my home in San Francisco, and if I was going to spend half a day on the road to get to the forest, I’d rather it be to end up among the redwoods.
But now with traffic patterns across the Southland being Pandemic-Light (something akin to “Tuesday-Light” traffic from the westside to the valley in Before Times), a jaunt to Big Bear truly was just a jaunt.
I chose Castle Rock and Bluff Lake for our hiking adventure. Castle Rock was rather popular, not only for the Stephen King reference but because the trailhead was right on the main road. However, one could start near Bluff Lake, up in the mountains, and reach the same peak of Castle Rock minus all the crowds.
And crowds there were indeed. Here the stewards of nature had blocked off roadside parking and the main parking lot, which just meant that people were walking a mile or more from up the road to get to the trailhead. Never underestimate the determination someone has to go for a walk when they’re told they can’t.
I found the back way to Bluff Lake, and Tucker and I took took some not-at-all-trafficked forest service roads up the mountain to reach what seemed like a camp, now abandoned from summer and from a global health crisis.
We parked (the only car in what I assumed was the lot for the trailhead), and while we saw a couple of people and dogs exiting the trailhead, there was no one else nearby.
The trail was a beautiful, socially distant, lack of human experience.
I felt the view of Castle Rock was enough for what we came for: a walk in the mountains.