Big Bear Lake
Saturday was another warm and sunny day, and the trail took us further up the mountain and then along the ridge overlooking beautiful Big Bear Lake. There was still a slight dusting of snow visible across the water in the higher elevations, but there was none along the trail (and I didn't miss it, either!) We were able to find some water in a horse trough along the way, although already many of the seasonal streams were dry or nearly so; the water wasn't something I was going to even attempt to filter or drink, but despite looking greenish and old, as if leftover from some previous rainfall, the horses were happy to have it. At least there was reliable water at our campsite for the night when we stopped at Caribou Creek. It has been strange to be going "against the flow" on this section of trail, as I'm riding south instead of north, mainly because of the water issue. We're covering long distances each day--over 30 miles--in order to be sure of spending the night somewhere with a good supply of water for the horses, and it isn't easy to plan a route that lets me make progress (not stopping after too short a day simply because there's nowhere else ahead with water) while also not taxing the horses with too long or difficult a distance. The longest days I had in 2014 were 42 and 43 miles each, and that was too long to do in anything other than an emergency basis (and hopefully with a rest day afterwards). Anything in the mid to high 20's is ideal, and the low 30's is doable, but once we get over 35 miles it's a long day for all of us (and I always spend a good portion of each day hiking, so it's not just the horses who are hoofing it; I usually walk at least 5 and up to 15 miles each day).