On Friday afternoon, I got in my car and headed south for more than seven hours — through the traffic-clogged corridor of the South Bay, into the dusty fields of the Central Valley, over parched hillsides north of Los Angeles, and through the palm tree boulevards of Pasadena. Darkness set in, and my route climbed up and up this narrow highway called "Rim of the World." A thick fog enveloped the sky, ice slicked the road, and suddenly there were several inches of new snow draped over granite boulders and pine trees. Huh? What is this place?
"Sure," I said. I wanted to visit Keith, and I like to ride bikes. I proposed Idyllwild, as that's the only place in Southern California with which I have any trail familiarity. Plans shifted when a friend of Keith's offered up his cabin on Big Bear Lake. The resort town in the San Bernardino Mountains is stone's throw from Los Angeles. And 6,800 feet higher.
My loop featured a spur up to Butler Peak, which I included because it was a high point on the map (8,500 feet.) As it turned out, the track was fenced off and there was this fantastic fire lookout at the top. It just sat there, perched precariously on a boulder, looking as though a single dislodged pebble could send it tumbling 200 feet down the rocky face.