Big Bear Lake viewed from the Pacific Crest Trail

On the morning of Day 26 we walked 8.5 miles to the Silverwood Lake picnic area. There Anna’s brother Jim and his wife Cindy gave us big welcoming hugs despite the grime and stink we’d acquired on the trail. Jim and Cindy then drove us to a nice rental house in Big Bear where Anna’s family had planned their annual family vacation. We had a great time relaxing and catching up with everyone.

Canoeing with Jim and Cindy

Jim and Cindy are being wonderfully helpful by shipping us food boxes during our PCT hike. We’d like to give back a bit by sharing a project Jim has been working on for the past year: the Get In Front dance performance in San Francisco. Jim is a dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and the June 6 show will feature dancers from 11 top Bay Area dance companies including San Francisco Ballet, LINES Ballet, and ODC/Dance. The evening will be a major fundraiser for the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, whose mission is to Get in Front of cancer. You can learn more about this amazing night and buy tickets at

The timing of our Big Bear break worked out well because Shutterbug’s (Chris’s) feet have grown larger from all the walking we’ve been doing, and his toes were starting to rub. Luckily he found the same model, just half a size larger than his old shoes, and his feet are happy again.

At the vacation house we’ve been eating constantly. Sometimes we will eat two breakfasts or two lunches, and we snack whenever we can. It took us a couple days to finally feel full.

Chris devours pasta

We’ve gone through a physical and mental change during our rest days off the Pacific Crest Trail. Initially we were excited to eat big meals, share our stories, and clean up. But now, on our third zero day, we’re getting antsy to explore, and we miss the calm quiet of the wilderness. It felt good to rest our bodies, though, which are now ache-free and strong. The hot tub didn’t hurt either!

Tomorrow we hit the trail again. We’ll walk the first 13 miles with Joe, Peter, Jim, Cindy, and Alex. Sharing the trail with family should be great fun!

Blue Dick flowers

A final note: we’ve improved our Tracking page. To view the page, click the “Tracking” link at the top of the site. Terrain view is now the default, which gives you a better sense of the landscape we are experiencing.


  1. So I just got out of bed and now I’m sitting here eating my bfast and reading your blog. When I got up, you guys had already been walking at least 4 hours. CRAYzy. I decided that I better leave a legit fierce comment on this blog in hopes of you getting a few good laughs when you read this. So here is my message to you:

    “A few moments to remember…”
    My PCT Big Bear Essay in response to American Education, Carbo Loading and Smizing.
    by Lili Get ITTT Fuller.

    We had a few conversations this week that proved memorable. The first being a deep family therapy-esque discussion on American education, ex-girlfriends and boyfriends, raising kids, etc… The second was a late night, let’s get the giggles and not wake up the house kinda moment. I will never forget this quote (that I took from your blog mind you): “wipe with smooth sticks or leaves” — I feel like I am going to use this on a daily basis. I will probably thank my toilet paper stars every day since I don’t have to use a smooth rock. My bootay hurts just thinking about that.

    I think we got some really good shots this week, not alcoholic or medical shots… but snap shots. fo sho. I feel like Mr. Chris Alexander’s camera skills have flooded into Joe’s and my souls and now I think we both might switch career paths. Joe is clearly ready to become a film DP and I am going to go into sport modeling photography. aka the photo posted on this blog of you guys kayaking. Let’s be honest, you all look fierce and sexy and I think I found my calling. so Thank you. THANK YOU.

    A sad moment that no one remembers is Tim getting cold shocked by the lake water during the last portion of the Amazing Race. Thank goodness the jacuzzi knocked him back the other way and he is hopefully recovered.

    I hope your once big, now little, emaciated bodies finally feel a bit full and hopefully at night when you are starving, you can eat those sweet sweet sandwiches I packed you that are filled with so much love and bee pollen (jk about the bee pollen). But seriously, you need to GET FATTER. When we see you at the end of this you are going to give MK & Ash Olsen a run for their money (maybe you should be them for Halloween? — or one of you could be a stick and one of you could be a rock and together, you’d be LNT. that is SO PCT)

    When you get back, Anna is right — our web series will be shot, Get in Front will have been fierce, and you two will be super hairy, super tan, super hungry, super accomplished and probably so super satisfied and proud that you will cry and laugh and scream and it will be a truly joyous day and one you will never forget. I use run on sentences a lot because like why not?

    I am so proud of you guys and really in awe of what you are doing: the dedication, the drive, the energy, the brains, the talent, the athleticism, the love of nature and simplicity and true beauty, the care you have for each other and the teamwork, the endless passion and clarity of what you want to do with your lives… all this and more. You are inspiring to us all!

    Anyways, I send all my love and calories your way.


    (insert emoticon one tongue and one wink here)


    1. OMG, Lili, your comment is epic! It got some good laughs as we read it out loud to the whole family hiking group yesterday. The sandwiches were delish and props on the kayaking photo -thanks! Our goal is to eat more calories every hour than MK and Ashley eat in a full day. Feels great to have so much family support!


  2. It’s a relief to know you have had some R&R (and now have shoes that fit!), and good to know that you are eager to get back on the trail.


  3. So, I was on a (Buddhist) retreat & just got back, so I’m not on top of your blog like I want to be….Finished reading WILD the other day. At one point she literally DID lose one shoe & then threw the other behind it. (Not that that is PC, but oh well.) Then she wrapped duct tape over her sandals until she could order new shoes & get them sent ASAP. Actually, her feet were a total mess the whole way, losing 6 of her toenails by the end, but you may have heard that from some of the other WILD readers.

    I like your approach much better — you know a lot more about what you are doing. You’ve researched (she did almost none at all, although she did have boxes sent to her), PCT hikers are better supported now, I hear, and you are much more aware of stretches with no water than she was. Still, her stories are so vivid I have a better pic of what some of the challenges & raison d’etre might be.

    So, Chris, have your arches fallen & that’s why your feet are longer? Will they shorten up again after you finish?

    For us arm chair folks, could you occasionally give us some broader points on the map re: where you are, e.g., ‘1/2 way up California,’ or something?


    1. Probably our experience is less dramatic than hers because we try to plan well and get all the information we need in advance. Plenty of info is available, but not all hikers take advantage of it. Also we have been quite fortunate with our feet!

      My feet may return to their original size or they may not. I don’t think it’s because of the arches, just general swelling. They feel quite healthy, so I can’t complain.

      Your can check our location anytime by clicking on the Tracking link at the top of our blog. You can zoom out to see where we are in a wider context. We try to update our location at least once a day, so you can see our progress.


  4. Anna and Chris, we met briefly early on during your hike as Harvey and I were hiking south toward the border and ADZPCTKO. I wanted to see if you might select a couple of Chris’ wonderful photos (backstories welcome too) that I might post on . . . I see that you are just a few days away from the Saufleys (which is where you will do your next installment). You can reach me at or

    Rees Hughes


    1. Yes, that would be fantastic, thanks! I’ll get back to you with a few photos. Let me know if you have preference for landscapes, people photos, wildlife, etc. Thanks for getting in touch, and hope you had a great time at the kickoff.


  5. Hi Chris and Anna, I stumbled upon your blog just an hour ago, and am having a great time getting into it. I checked out the map and discovered you’re quite close to Antelope Valley. I started high school in Lancaster, and left just a couple years before Frank Zappa arrived. I hope your weather isn’t too awful–in late summer I had a football practice and it was so hot I put out a thermometer to check, and the paint melted on the thermometer! Well, Swarthmore, isn’t exactly cool, but as usual our humidity is the killer. I’ll continue to read your account with pleasure, and hope you guys check in at Swarthmore some time. (Have you family near here still? so sad to loose complete contact with you and yours.)

    Very best wishes, Gene Klotz


    1. Thanks Gene, it’s great to hear from you! Your thermometer story is awesome. Later today we will descend out of the mountains and we’ll see if we melt as well. I wonder if some of Frank Zappa’s music was inspired by this area. The desert does have a certain craziness, and beauty as well.

      I do get back to Swarthmore occasionally (and still love it), and my parents live in Media now, so they aren’t far away. We are hoping to visit my parents after the hike, so maybe we can work something out then. In the meantime, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. Cheers!


  6. Thanks for the nice call-out for the Get In Front Performance that Jim and Garen developed. In fact, it was a GIANT success, a fabulous display of wonderous dancing, and a great source of support for the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, whose daily work is to prevent cancer.

    You have one terrific brother/brother-in-law! (And a really nice mom, too, whom I met the night of the performance).

    Sally Glaser, CEO, Cancer Prevention Institute of California


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