Why Big Bear Continues to Steal My Heart
November 25, 2019
Big Bear is a beautiful mountain town no matter the season. I’ve seen the beauty of the lake during the warm summer days as people take to the water and miles of hiking. I’ve also seen the snow-packed mountains filled with snowboarders, skiers, and people taking to town to find a cup of hot cocoa. The area is filled with large pine trees and is surrounded by the San Bernadino National Forest. Roughly 40 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail goes through the area and is traveled by hundreds of hikers a year.
My parents have been taking my brother and me to Big Bear since we were very young. We would often go in the search for snow and stay in a cabin for a few days. I have so many memories of our days sledding down the hill and playing in the snow. When we were very young, our stays in Big Bear included aunts, uncles, and cousins in a multi-roomed cabin eating large dishes of lasagna and watching The Labyrinth after a stop at the candy store in town. As we got older, we attempted to learn to ski and snowboard and drank hot cocoa at the base of the mountain. I remember trips to the local zoo, walking along the snow-lined paths in huge puffy jackets.
As we got older, our cabin weekends became us four. We continued the lasagna dinner tradition and snow-filled weekends. Days included more sledding, time by the fire, and playing Uno. We would find serenity in the mountain air being surrounded by the pines. Sometimes we would drive up for the day after a big storm to see the fresh snow, only to drive back that night. One year we stopped by the shelter in town and adopted a favorite childhood dog. I have so many childhood memories up in the Big Bear mountains.
When I inched close to 30, I discovered a fundraising hike up along the Pacific Crest Trail in Big Bear. I took on the long hike mostly as a challenge to myself and the need to find the me I had lost. When it came to hike weekend, It felt good to be back in Big Bear. I had never hiked the specific trail before, but the area felt comfortable, familiar. The hike lasted for hours, at times with others and at times alone. In my moments alone, all I could hear was myself and the silence around me. It was in those moments that I felt pieces of me fall back into place and begin to heal.
It was also on that hike that I met Tim. We hiked together in the most real versions of ourselves without any agenda. We simply got to know each other as we hiked along 10 miles of the trail. After reconnecting many months later, it was clear that we were meant to be together. We have often returned to Big Bear and feel the magic pull of the area for us.
It is also here that Tim got down on one knee. After camping for a night, we woke up with the sun to watch the sunrise with a pour over coffee in the woods. Tim then took me back to the trail where we met for some ay hiking. Unaware of what was about to happen, we hiked above the lake for a few miles to reach the Pacific Crest Trail marker. It was there that we casually ate our snacks under a tree and reminisced on our first hike together. We were casually taking pictures of us at the marker sign when Tim got down on one knee. Of course, I said yes and I cried my eyes out. I don’t think I stopped smiling for weeks.
All of these memories hold such a special place in my heart. It’s these defining moments, some lifechanging, some simple, that have truly shaped me. Big Bear has been crucial in my love for the mountains, the smell of fresh pine, and the need for fresh air. Since childhood, it has been a special place and will continue to be so, for Big Bear continues to steal my heart.