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A Schnauzer Made Me Do It: Running the PCT at Big Bear (Or, Clearly I Lack Good Judgment)

by Carilyn on January 12, 2014

When my kids announced they wanted to go skiing up at Big Bear this weekend, rather than check out the snow conditions, I immediately got online to check out running routes. Falling on my butt while skiing? No. Falling on my face while running? Bring it.

So, yesterday morning saw us winding our way up the mountain with our car full of gear – gloves, hats, boots, a hydration vest, PayDays – and Mumford and Sons playing on the radio. We made it to the top with just enough time for my kids to get in a good day of snow and for me to get in a good day of dirt. Oh and a hamburger.

big bear foodAnd yes, those are homemade zucchini AND onion rings. Just sayin’.

After I scarfed down the burger, and did a little “reconnaissance” with the locals (the women who owned the restaurant) about the best trails in the area, I headed over to Big Bear Lake. My plan was to start around the lake and then just see what happened. (Truly, I don’t know why I’m shocked that I get lost all the time. My planning skills are clearly superior.)

big bear


This plan worked fairly well for awhile. I ran on the beach and pretended like I was in Switzerland.

big bear 9(The first of many selfies. Be patient with me.)

But, after a bit, the beach running got a little old. And boggy.

big bear 8So, into the mountains I went.

At first, it was very pleasant. Easy trails, lots of runnable terrain. You know, the stuff I like. I thought, “20 miles on this will be no problema.”

big bear easy

But then I saw a sign for the Pacific Crest Trail. Now, how could I go all the way to Big Bear and not at least check it out? Exactly. I knew we thought alike.

So, up, up, up I went. And strangely, I kept getting higher and higher. And the trail kept getting rockier and rockier. And the drops kept getting scarier and scarier. And somewhere close to the top, I remembered just how scared of heights I am.

big bear 7


big bear 2

(Don’t let the smile fool you. This was when I still had thoughts of pretending like I was a badass.)

But there was no way in hell I was turning back. I would be mad at myself for a million Sundays if I didn’t make it to the top. Sheesh, I’d seen a schnauzer heading back down with his owner. If I schnauzer could do it, then by golly, so could I!

And I did.

big bear 6

But then I had to go back down. The icy patches on the way up made me breathe heavily with fear. The icy patches on the way down made me start to cry a little.

big bear 3

Damn! I wasn’t going to be able to get off this freakin’ mountain.

And then I thought of the schnauzer, and I kept moving.

Finally, 16 miles (and one fall) later, I was done.

big bear 5

I had wanted 20, but clearly spent too much time on personal therapy, and I needed to go pick up my kids.

Oh, well. At least I wasn’t bested by a schnauzer.

Happy Running!



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