From the Archives - Summer Fun in Big Bear
Posted: 10/18/10 | By Daniel Pea
Journal entries from one local on the magic of Big Bear!
The mountains seem to be leaving the lush color of green behind for a canvas painted in orange, purple, red, yellow and white. Flowers and their brilliance accompanied by a sweet scent, it's making hiking, running and biking a bit more interesting. I went for a quick run on the PCT this morning, a carpet of tiny purple and white flowers slowed my pace as I admired the perfection of a native landscape. Why can't my yard look like this? I ran past Indian paintbrush, Sea Fig, Columbine and Lupine. I even came across an entire meadow of wild Iris earlier this week, shocked because I had never seen them before despite having mountain biked the trail for years. The constant change makes me hike, ride and run the same Big Bear trails week after week. Checking for changes and waiting patiently for my two favorites - Lemon Lily and Corn Lily, to arrive.
The first thing you should do before you leave the house is to log onto Big Bear Municipal Water District's website www.bbmwd.com, and click on current lake conditions. Then click on the Limnological Report. The Limnological Report will show you the lake conditions from 5 different monitoring buoys placed down the middle of Big Bear Lake. The buoys are located at the boom line at the dam, in front of Papoose Bay, by the West Launch Ramp, in front of the Observatory; and near Juniper Point. The three main things that you want to check out in the Big Bear fishing report that will help you catch more fish this summer are the Secci reading.
It was just over a week ago when I could see lush green forests surround the mountain community, but then all of sudden POW right between the eyes a dazzling display of gold, amber, yellow and crimson have popped up all over the place. It's as if a group of elves randomly dumped buckets of bright colored paints throughout the forest Right now Mother Nature is flaunting her latest fall fashions, and I must confess she looks more beautiful than ever. The oak trees, poplars, dogwoods, aspens and cottonwoods are rapidly changing colors creating quite an autumn showcase It's fair to say Big Bear's fall colors are on the cusp of peaking. It is highly recommended to make a daytrip to Big Bear this week to treat your eyes to absolute pleasure. Of course, you'll want to have a camera ready to capture the blinding brilliance of these autumn hues. Photographers tend to get a little trigger happy this time of year, but heck that's one of the benefits of having a digital camera. Big Bear provides so many different angles for photography, from distant scenic shots to close-ups. There's something magical about seeing fall's golden leaves blend in with the evergreens. But combine other elements of the mountains such as crystalline blue skies, soft breezes, pine-scented aromas, and melodic singing birds and it practically becomes a state of nirvana. Right now is the time to come up to get a taste of this eye candy, and the best part about Big Bear is it's just a short drive away to a genuine autumn experience.
Like it began - quick and epic - Big Bear's 2010/2011 ski season came to an end on Saturday. It was a good year despite predictions - Mother Nature delivered the white stuff and did so with a more-than-our-fair-share amount of sunny days. While I am still not convinced the season is entirely over (have you looked at San G recently?), I am switching up the way I glide downhill. And it looks like just about everyone else has to. Mountain biking in Big Bear is in full swing! This past weekend Michele Russell from Mountain Fitness led a training ride up 2N10 and the Grout Bay Trail had countless tire tracks rolling down it. Not to mention some super fun water crossings to remind us of our winter. Just as we finished our ride of Grout Bay, all of us successfully navigating the first switchback and rocky section that followed without an auger or a foot down - I started to consider how similar mountain biking is to skiing and snowboarding. It's about picking your line, committing to it, and rolling through it. And it's also about body positioning, right? Only with mountain biking, back is a good thing. While I am already missing the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you stand at the top of a steep pitch: eyeing your line, imagining your turns, and then executing with precision. I realized mountain biking creates that same thoughtfulness when it comes to descending (and ascending) a dirt trail. In the simplest of terms, it's all the same, right? We're just switching up how we glide down the mountain slopes and forests in Big Bear. Here's to happy gliding from one season to the next!
This past week the Big Bear Cycling Association hosted an open house at Nottingham's Tavern. A mini expo folks for many of the cycling-friendly area businesses were on hand to give out freebies but mostly talk about riding in Big Bear Lake. It was a super cool vibe and awesome to experience people coming together to acknowledge that riding in Big Bear, whether you prefer road or trail, is gaining momentum in the Valley not to mention probably one of the best all around places to ride in So Cal.
I showed up with a general idea of what the Association was about and decided to join. It's awesome to have the opportunity to support anything related to outdoor adventure in our small community. What I didn't know are the many benefits you get with being a member including Valley-wide bike emergency pick-up. While I have a few other life links out there it's nice to know there is a kind stranger at the other end of the line is willing to come pick me up if I ever break down and can't seem to help myself out of it. That's pretty committed to making sure anyone who rides in Big Bear has a good time! Of course the biggest bonus is the schedule of group rides, there is one almost every day of the week. And you don't have to be an expert or local to join or participate. These rides run the gamut: offered at every level and open to anyone. For more information check out www.bigbearcycling.com.
There are many ways to pack a day full of activities in Big Bear Lake. Whether you are mountain biking, hiking, fishing or exploring the destination in another way, fun can be extremely exhausting. That's why there are some great restaurants to enjoy big meals at affordable prices.
Big Bear Lake Brewery: Who doesn't like micro beers? Who would refuse a cold one after a spectacular hike or ride? If you haven't been, you should put this on your list. We stopped by after spending an afternoon climbing at Castle Rock. The benefits are twofold: pub fare is always the answer after a day of exertion and the beer cooled our finger tips rubbed raw from climbing.
The Himalayan: When friends come to town, we go to The Himalayan. Serving Indian and Nepalese food, the menu is vast and the service is super friendly. We had dinner with a large group of friends last week. It was good to catch up on each other's lives over Nepali beers and a meal that began with naan and ended with sweet kheer.
The Boneyard Bar & Grill: Refuel your body with great beer or a cool cocktail and a juicy plate of ribs, burgers, pulled pork and more. The Boneyard is one of the best places into to get your fix of BBQ and American cuisine. Our favorite dish is the steak salad, that features juicy slices of tri-tip steak.
Dynasty: Enjoy a large plate of Orange Chicken, egg rolls and fried rice. Dynasty primarily offers Chinese, Szechwan Manderin style food as well as Mongolian BBQ. The restaurant is located near the Village on Big Bear Boulevard. Come hungry and leave with a full and content heart as well as a content stomach.
Royal Thai Bistro: In the heart of the Village, Royal Thai Bistro serves up flavorful curries and traditional thai dishes such as Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai and more. Your dish can be made as spicy as you'd like so fans of heat can Live it. Up!
For me this weekend was all about getting out, Friday night entertainment at Nottinghams, outdoor gardening and swinging in the hammock on Saturday, and mountain bike racing at the Team Big Bear event for Sunday. In fact, this past weekend sets a perfect example of what summer weekends are like in Big Bear with a laundry list of activities to choose from:
Team Big Bear Mountain Bike Series Race.
Scenic Sky Chair Open for the summer season.
Big Bear Cycling Association Saturday and Sunday morning community group rides.
Bass Tournament, fishing and lake activities, Both East and West ramps are open!
Open house at Camp Whittle.
Discovery Center and Moonridge Animal Park.
Not to mention all the hiking trails now free of snow and paddling over smooth waters! This coming weekend is shaping up to be even busier. More community road and mountain bike rides, Big Bear Historical Museum opening for the summer, Sky chair for hiking and biking, Old Time Bear Country Fair at Moonridge Animal Park celebrating wildlife, Citibank car show and pinewood derby, live entertainment (Bob Gulley at Nottinghams in the Village), more hiking and mountain biking, and a community gear swap at North Shore Trading Company. It is sure to be a lively holiday weekend in Big Bear. Plan your days out by checking the calendar: you won't want to miss out on anything! Hmmm, after reviewing all there is to do I can think of one excuse, you're too tired from playing so hard! But really, rest should be saved for Monday mornings, right?
In Big Bear, outdoor activities seem to happen like the seasons, there's mountain and road bike season, followed by ski and snowboard, then back to mountain and road bike season again, throw in hiking season, and finally there's paddling season. And while each season bleeds into the next, this week the vibe is all about paddling. Whether its standup paddleboard, kayak or canoe, it is all about getting out on the water and ready for this coming weekend's 4th Annual Big Bear Paddlefest. Paddlefest is a unique, grass roots event that has grown each year and has promoted paddlesports in Big Bear. Saturday is the expo with vendors, a morning SUP yoga class and paddling clinics happening throughout the day. Sunday is race day, 5k, 10k, 20k, new this year and part of the Conquer the Bear series, and a free kids-only fun paddle. In preparation for the 20k race I took a lap around the Lake early Monday morning to work on my form, technique and stamina to go the distance. Cloud cover provided cool comfort and an early start delivered a glass-like surface for most of my workout. Along the way I passed several other kayakers out enjoying the spectacular day. Under my own power I overtook one buoy after another in my quest for time and figuring out how difficult 20k would be. It wasn't easy but it was enjoyable and supplied a great start to my week. If you get a chance, swing by swim beach this weekend, whether you are new to stand-up paddling boarding or a seasoned kayaker. Big Bear Paddlefest always delivers a great time for everyone involved.
Wow! It's simple but it's an apt description for this past weekend in Big Bear: a weekend that served up a terrific mix of arts, culture and adventure. For me it started off a bit complicated and I wasn't so sure we could fit it all in. Friends were in town for Big Bear Cycling Association's Tour de Big Bear cycling event and another group of friends were here to celebrate their daughter's 16th birthday. On our way to pick up our race packets (five of us had signed up for the 70 mile Grand Tour), we strolled through downtown for Friday Nights in the Village, a street fair atmosphere with live music, lots of shopping and browsing artist wares. Despite being anxious to sort bike gear and rest, we opted to pop into Nottingham's Tavern for dinner and drinks and to watch Bear Valley Bike's Goldsprint Competition. The vibe was energetic and fun and it was definitely cool to see all the cycling enthusiasts visiting the Valley. Saturday morning came early and a chilly 40 degrees assured us the day would offer perfect race temperatures. The Grand Tour started at 8 a.m. with about 200 participants. The pre-race scene was alive with cyclists wearing colorful kits and making final adjustments to sleek road bikes. We parked next to a couple from Calimesa who were excited about the day's ride and admitted they hadn't been to Big Bear in 20 years. Seriously! I told them they should visit more often, we are like an hour away! As we took our place behind the starting line, Paul Romero was lively on the loudspeaker, doing an awesome job of getting everyone amped to begin. While there were a few locals peppered through the crowd, this event definitely drew from outside our valley. Over 600 riders took to the roads in three distance categories: 25, 50 and 70 miles. The course was fantastic and challenging, and I was definitely ready to be off the bike at the finish. Plus, the day was far from being over! Next, it was home for a shower and quick lunch before heading out to Blues for the Zoo, a lakeside concert supporting the Moonridge Animal Park. Lunch took place on the deck and we were treated to Big Bear Air Fair's star attractions flying overhead; two brightly-painted vintage bi-planes, a P-38 and my favorite, a Corsair. Luckily the venue for Blues for Zoo was at Meadow Park.
Even in Big Bear summer folds itself into fall like most Southern California places. Temps remain imperceptibly flat, cool mornings and warm, almost hot, afternoons continue. But here and there, if you look, there are signs of the seasons' march toward winter. Like our weekly farmer's market: selling the last of its veggies, fruits, flowers, and crafts. Wrapping up until next May; locals scramble to enjoy the last day of our open-air market. Or the big sales of Labor Day. The kind that happen in every ski town across the US: blowout sales of last year's goods to make room for new arrivals. There's also the fall foliage. Low-lying greenery fades into a spectrum of browns while high-flying leaves flash in vivid hues of orange, red, and yellow. And during this time, we continue to bike, hike, run, canoe and kayak like summer hasn't quite said good-bye. But we know. We pursue these activities with an eye on the thermometer, reaching for long-sleeve shirts over tank-tops, and pants over shorts. It's the time of year when the signs are there but maybe we're choosing not to notice. Hoping the warm fall season weather will hold just a week or two more and then act surprised when morning frost is left behind in shaded spots. The bad news: the balmy days of our summer are quietly becoming a memory. The good news: fall colors and winter season is looming.