When it comes to the outdoors, making decisions to go or not to go down a sketchy, unfamiliar even dangerous path is a no-brainer. My survival instincts kick in, I evaluate my gear, my skills, and the possible danger, if I am unprepared I play it safe. Usually, I get a really strong gut feeling, it's like an internal alarm shouting “don’t do it” meanwhile my curiosity is saying “do it! do it!” In the end, my survival instincts punch curiosity in the face and I survive one more day. There have been times my gut feeling doesn’t kick in because there is no immediate danger however I end up not exploring an area because I overthink it. Those are the times I regret the most because I end up missing out on some great adventure. This past weekend was one of those days.
On Saturday, the day it was predicted to rain and snow the sun came out. Not once or twice I am talking several times. There was rain and the temperature did drop a little but not enough to keep someone indoors the whole day. I saw a blue sky, huge puffy clouds as the sun mocking me. I was so disappointed in canceling the trip. I immediately started researching winter camping, waterproof gear, and everything I could find to avoid this situation from happening again. How could I call myself an explorer if the first drop of rain or snow I panic? No, I was not going to let the weather stop me from enjoying the outdoors. I mean why would I spend money on rain gear if I don’t plan on using it. So I went shopping for tarps to create a canopy for the rain, a heater for the cold, and other camping gear that will make wet camping fun camping.
On Sunday I called up my nephew and asked if he wanted to go up the mountain. He had found some old winter gear from his dad and older brothers. The snow gear was in good shape so he layered himself up and drove to the mountain. The day was cloudier than Saturday but there was still sunshine that is until we arrived closer to the mountain. As we drove up it started to get darker and colder. It began to sprinkle a bit. My nephew spoke about one day going to Big Bear for the snow, at that moment it begins to snow. We started to see cars with snow on their roof. We were so excited. I felt we were ready for anything. We decided to stay the whole day and eat freeze dry food that I brought for lunch.
We entered the park and drove to the Doane’s Pond located next to the campground we had made reservations for. The colors of the landscape were so saturated with color it felt like I had entered a world where Photoshop had increased the vividness and saturation of the landscape. It was breathtaking. We didn’t explore the campground we just wanted to try our winter gear and hike. Not surprisingly there were hardly any people in the park. Those who came were prepared. We started walking at a leisurely pace, enjoying the views. The air was cool and crisp the temperature was cold but not unbearable. We walked on the Thunder Spring trail a .08 mile hike. The rain would at times turn into snow then slush and finally going back to rain.
Our snow boots, unfortunately, were too old and did let water in. I felt my toes getting cold and wet but the wool socks work their magic. As we continued to walk I did not feel my feet get cold anymore. We took photos, recorded each other, and just enjoyed each other’s company. We did find sections with a bit of snow covering. My nephew made a few small snowballs to toss, not enough to have a snowball fight. We continued on the trail and we gradually started to gain elevation. We were the only ones on the trail for a very long time. Everything was going well until I notice some a tree on the path. The trunk seems like it recently had snapped. I moved toward to inspect the snapped tree and notice another tree on the path. Normally I would just hop over the tree and continued in the path however I thought it would be best to play it safe and return to the car. Besides, it was getting close to lunchtime.
When we reached the car I extended my arm and pulled at the door handle, the door usually opens automatically however this time it didn’t. It's a keyless car. I have to use a fob to open my doors and drive. The fob was not working at that moment. I switched from one door to another and repeated this ritual several times. The doors wouldn’t open. The battery on the fob had died and I was starting to panic. I knew the battery on the fob was low a few weeks ago but I didn't bother to replace it. Another regret. We were stuck in the cold and rain. My only hope was the general store up the main road. I started to rehearse some lines in my head on how to ask for help and persuade the people next car over to assist us get to the general store. Luckily my constant pressure on the key fob and yanking at the door handle vigorously opened the car door. I was relieved.
Overall the day trip was amazing. I was right about canceling the camping trip, we were not prepared but I am happy we had the opportunity to test our gear. For the most part, we enjoyed our hiking in the rain and snow.
This experience opens a whole new type of adventure. We enjoyed our hike and we learned a lot. I can’t wait to camp in the snow. I always wanted to take photos of snowy landscapes. No more regrets.