It was the final day of hiking before getting to Big Bear, and it would be the furthest I had hiked yet. The twenty-four mile hike was relatively flat, passing by the Big Bear private zoo which holds a lion, a grizzly bear, and a very large tiger. Apparently this zoo trains animals for Hollywood movies, but to passing hikers it just looks like undersized cages holding very pissed off animals. A few miles past this was a random couch, as well as a dumpster full of sodas and cookies. Numerous hikers congregated around the magic, enjoying the luke-cold sodas like they had never before tasted carbonated sugar-water. For most of the day I was at it alone, and I was really enjoying it. This was the first time in a while I was able to hike at my own pace, it felt as though I was free from conforming my pace to others.
Coming to HWY 166 at mile 266 I reconnected with a few hikers, and we caught a hitch into Big Bear City where most hikers were planning on staying. There is a local trail angel, “Papa Smurf”, who houses hikers and feeds them what he is able to. As I walked into his house I could smell that something was slightly off inside, but I figured it was nothing. About ten minutes had passed being inside that house when a female hiker, who had previously seemed perfectly fine, got violently ill puking all over the kitchen floor. A caretaker of the home rushed into the kitchen to assist the sick hiker, and mentioned that “This has been happening lately, take her out to the SICK TENT OUTSIDE.” Instantly I said, “WAIT. WHAT?? THERE IS A SICK TENT??” Indeed there was, they had quarantined sick hikers outside. I realized that coming into that house was a huge mistake, and as I touched the door knob to leave the residence I instantly realized that I had been in contact with whatever horrible virus that was going round . . I WAS DOOMED. Two days later, stuck in a hotel room I found myself violently puking. It was not pretty, it was not fun . . it was norovirus.