Big Bear rocks! While some people are drawn to the ocean, I’m partial to mountains & pine trees. Despite living in Dana Point, I’ve been in the ocean exactly once in the last two years. From my porch I love the views the Pacific bestows but between surf & turf, I’ve pitched my tent on terra firma.
And that’s what we did in Big Bear this past weekend, spending our time at Serrano campground on the east side of the lake near the USFS Discovery Center. Samantha and I left Orange County just past noon and arrived in Big Bear two hours later. We got a quick bite at Amangela’s in the village (btw – get the black olive parmesan focaccia bread for the sandwich!). Full and powered up, we made camp and quickly got on our bikes to ride Hannah Flats up to Gray’s Peak, which might be Samantha’s favorite ride. Hannah flat singletrack is one of those magical trails where it rolls like a roller coaster and you feel like you’re not working very hard (until you climb Gray’s Peak which Sam PR’d!).
One quintessential camping activity I always look forward to involves watching my $4 aluminum coffee percolator burp and hiss as coffee is made. And the end result is gritty coffee which when combined with crumb donuts and cool mountain air is as good as a morning can get (video below).[vimeo http://vimeo.com/46493410]
Perked up, we decided to hit Snow Summit Saturday morning. To save the legs for Sunday’s race, we cheated by taking the lift up to the top and made a couple runs down the mountain to sharpen our hardtail downhill skills! It’s always fun to pass dudes with downhill bikes (6+ inch full suspension) and watch their reactions!
The only negative of the day was at the bottom of Pirates when I spooked two unleashed dogs who immediately barked and charged me. Having been bitten three times in the last three years, I prepared for the inevitable just as the owner yelled at the dogs to come back. The owner, surprised at his dogs response tells me “my dogs have never seen mountain bikes before.” Me: “Well, perhaps you should leash them since you’re walking in the middle of a bike park in the middle of the day!” I’ll post a video of this later.
After riding, we returned to camp to make lunch (PB&Js, sun chips, carrots and Kona Longboard!) and rest before we turned our attention to the kayak we brought with us. As mentioned in the previous post, my parents gave us their blow-up kayak so it was time to put it to use. After pumping it up, we ported it down to the lake which was exhausting because of its weight (how does air weigh so much?!). While the kayak is called the Sea Eagle, we decided after 10 minutes in the water to rename it the Sea Beagle. We were not flying but rather doggy paddling, zig-zagging and spinning about.
Saturday evening, after putting the Sea Beagle back into its doghouse, we had a couple more beers and then went back to the village and had dinner at the Peppercorn to fuel up for the Rim Nordic XC race the next day. I had an amazing salmon filet stuffed with crab and yellow pepper that was simply amazing! We then walked around the village to aid the digestion and to pop our heads into the various shops.
At dusk we returned to camp, got our race gear ready and retreated to the tent for a competitive match of Uno. Sam took 2 out of 3 games so she’s wearing the Big Bear Uno World Championship belt (no picture). We went to bed fairly early (camping is awesome that way! What – it’s 9pm? Damn I’m tired!) underneath the stars and a shining Saturn!
Part II is next with a Rim Nordic race recap and video . . . for now here are some additional photos of our trip: