No one day out here on the trail is the same. Things are always changing – the scenery and terrain I hike in, where I set up camp for the night, the number of miles I hike each day, places I hike to throughout the day, the food I eat and even the people I hike with.

Over this past week, I’ve crossed over Mission Creek multiple times. I’ve walked from multiple water sources to walking on sand without any shade. It has gone from been really hot during the day to bone chillin cold at night. I’ve walked amongst tall trees, enjoying their shade and smells. I got to visit Big Bear Lake and see an amazing morning view of Big Bear Lake from the trail, 1,000 feet above the lake.

Every night I set up camp in a new spot. Since I never camp at the same site twice, I can’t help but sing to myself, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” as I set up my tent. I’ve camped at some pretty cool spots this week starting with the Whitewater Preserve, where I got to dip my feet in the duck pond, charge my electronics in the Ranger Station and camp on the lawn with running water and toilets nearby. Then there was the tentsite near Mission Creek, the tentsite near the Big Bear Hostel Info Center complete with a couch and a bear box stocked with soda and cookies, the lawn chair in the tent outside at Mountain Mama and Papa Smurf’s house, the bunk beds at the Big Bear Hostel, the tentsite at Caribou Creek outside of Big Bear, the tentsite at Bench Camp with a really nice, cold creek water source that also made a great place to soak my swollen feet after a full day of hiking and the small spot I tried cowboy camping at right after the Rainbow Bridge.

Even the number of miles I hike each day are different from day to day. Over this last week, I’ve hiked anywhere from nine miles a day up to 19.7 miles a day, averaging about 15 miles a day this week.

I’ve seen some cool things on the trail this week. I’ve passed through a private zoo with a tiger and a grizzly bear. I sat on a couch sipping on a soda and eating cookies while trying decide where to camp that night. I passed through recent burn areas, walked up and down and crossed countless dirt roads, crossed over a few cool bridges, hit Mile 300 on trail and even took a dip in a hot springs in the middle of the desert.

I’ve met a number of cool people along the trail this week, including other hikers and Trail Angels. It’s amazing how many people out here are always down to help out a stinky, dirty hiker with anything from giving rides to/from town to getting to the nearest grocery store so I can resupply for the next section.

Even the food I’ve been eating on trail has been drastically different from what I normally eat at home. I left Campo, California a month ago with a pack loaded with various Mountain House dehydrated meals. Somewhere along the trail, I’ve rediscovered my love for Top Ramen and Rice Krispies Treats. I’ve also been dining on a fair share of instant mashed potatoes with bacon bits, although this hasn’t been my most favorite meal on trail, but it’s super cheap. I’ve also been snacking on numerous Oreos, various Knorr rice dishes and gummy bears, gummy Starbursts and gummy Clif Bloks Energy Chews.

I look forward to drinking a cold root beer as soon as I get into town. It’s one of the first things I do, even before taking my pack off.

Other changes on the trail have even been with the people I’ve been hiking with. Amish and KitKat, original members of our trail family, Team Lagger had to get off trail after Big Bear temporarily. That left me hiking with the remaining members of Team Lagger, Bleeder and Punchline. Along the way, we’ve managed to hike a few days and nights with Grit “I’m Still Alive” Pier-Luc and picked up two new members, Major Mooch and Stoic.

One thing that hasn’t changed is Punchline sleeping the morning away in his tent at camp. No matter how many times we’ve left him behind sleeping at camp, he’s always managed to catch up with us either by hiking like a madman or hitching ahead to the next town.

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