Day 16 – Genchi Genbutsu

Big Bear to Boulder Hill Camp
Mile 266.1 – Mile 288.1

Flowers everywhere everyday

My great friend Mark who works for Toyota Corporate once shared with me the company’s principle of genchi genbutsu. It refers to the idea that to know a thing you have to go to the actual place and see it for yourself. Reading many people’s accounts of their time on the PCT planted the seed for me but being out here doing it surpasses what I expected. The porcelain clink and scrape of new rockfall reverberating its depths as I travel over, the sere desert wind rising and falling like respiration, the warm, sweet spice of pine straw baking on the forest floor, to really know those things, you have to be here. Genchi genbutsu but here are some pictures anyway.

Fresh rockfall
Distant desert north

Having learned my lesson at the Red Kettle in Idyllwild about proper breakfast time, I didn’t attempt The Lumberjack Café until 7:15. I was loaded and ready to fuel up for the day. FlowerMan (his pack adorned with fresh yellow roses, hence the name) and CatWeasel were already eating so I grabbed a spot at the bar and met another character, Shiatsu Tom.

Hiker food!
Sourdough flapjacks, yum

Tom has been doing massage for 53 years, the last 20 in Big Bear. His shared secret was to use cold pressed olive oil because only that or grape seed oil can be absorbed by the skin. Who knew? We also talked about the investment to make Big Bear a top ski destination. “It’s the corporation coming in and raising prices so high nobody can afford to ski anymore. It’s a hill that happens to be at 8000 feet. It used to be great for families because there was nowhere else to go.”  Just so you know, it’s not just me.

Beautiful Big Bear Lake and Ski Area

I caught a taxi this time back to the trail and was walking by 9:30. Here is where the northbound PCT hikers take a hard left and head west. Most of the morning was spent in the hills just north of Big Bear Lake and I was able to get a photo of the lake and ski area. If I can walk up the hill in 30-45 minutes, $100 lift tickets do seem exorbitant.

The trail continued into Holcomb Valley where Diamond Dave said much gold prospecting was done in the 1840s. I saw no evidence of same but it did get me thinking about the books I’ve read about the West – Undaunted Courage, Nothing Like It In The World, and Empire of the Summer Moon are among the best. Being out here with just a horse, a rifle, a blanket, and no trail is some genchi genbutsu I’m happy to do without.

Where did all the trees go?

Another large burn area occupied my late afternoon. I stopped at Holcomb Creek for water and dinner after which I chased the sun down the valley. The trail indeed escaped the valley and I made my own campsite among large boulders on top of a rise just as the sun was setting. Best site yet!

Boulder Hill Camp

Note: I do all this writing and posting with big thumbs on a small iPhone screen. Thanks for looking past any typos I happen to miss.


5 Replies to “Day 16 – Genchi Genbutsu”

  1. I was really hoping that you would be able to post today! And what a great post, as always. I really resonate with your explanation about actually being there to experience the place… a picture is like only one dimension, being there is the full meal deal! Nice breakfast by the way!
    I was climbing my stairs this morning in the building… only 40 stories.. and the genchi genbutsu of that is pretty lacking… lots of concrete, and one creaky stair tread between the 24th and 25th floor… keep the posts coming 🙂
    Another 20 miles and you might get to soak in the hot springs, right? Looks popular!


  2. John
    I have not kept up with the blog but I will start to. Glad the words of wisdom from Toyota are ringing true. I actually think about those words all the time as I visit new places in Chicago. Talk to you soon.


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