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The Great Escape: Camping and Rock Climbing in Big Bear

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You ever get that urge to get away and disconnect? There is only so much typing on a computer, texting with miniature buttons on a miniature screen and being reachable 24/7 that one can take before going mad – at least that how we felt this past weekend. So, in an attempt to disconnect from technology and reconnect to ourselves and nature, we decided to go camping and rock climbing in Big Bear – ah the great outdoors. I can already breathe more easily just thinking about it.

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After taking care of a few last minute things on our “to do” list, we drove over Saturday afternoon and finally arrived to Big Bear around 5:30 pm. Once at the lake we had about 30 more minutes to go until we were at our destination for the evening, Holcomb Valley’s South Lot Campground (google maps here and extremely detailed and helpful directions here).

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Photo Credit: SoCal Climbers MeetUp

As we drove along the bumpy dirt road, we passed Wilbur’s Grave on our left (mentioned in the driving directions linked above). Wilbur was apparently one of the early miners in the area, but nothing else about his life is known (random right?). His grave always seems to be decorated with one or more American flags and it’s a tradition to add random trinkets and decorations to it whenever passing by:

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While there is a number of campgrounds in Big Bear, the Holcomb Valley South Lot is our favorite. Not only is camping here completely FREE, but you can pitch your tent wherever your heart desires and you don’t need an adventure pass to park! The only downer is that you can’t have a campfire, but we had our portable propane powered grill and JetBoil so we were set. After scoping out the area, we settled upon a cozy little nook situated between some rocks and pine trees, providing us with our own little outdoor getaway – check out Drew looking so satisfied:

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It was now time to sit back, relax and watch the golden, summer sun slowly sink below the pine tree caked mountains, and as the night came upon us, the absence of our computers, television and phones became evident in the most peaceful and present sort of ways. With nothing to update, nothing to post, no one to answer to, we enjoyed each other’s company and began our slow evening of grilling, laughing and snuggling under the stars.

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With sleeping bag hair and squinty eyes, we rolled out of our cozy tent and prepared breakfast tea and morning oats – fueling up for the day’s adventure of climbing rocks 🙂

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The Holcomb Valley Pinnacles is a moderate mecca with 75% of its 300+ sport climbing routes being 5.10 and under in difficulty (helpful scale explanation here). With classics like Gold StandardBye Crackie and Coyotes at Sunset, to name a few, there is no lack of epic routes to scale.

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We spent the majority of the morning brushing up on our lead climbing skills and luckily found the perfect shady spot to do so – Lizard’s Head, located on Motherlode‘s North face, is a playfully long 10-bolt climb which earned its name for obvious reasons:

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As you can see, I was seriously into it:

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About 5 hours in and our arms had turned to jello. It was time to throw that hammock up and enjoy a signature triple-decker PBJ:

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Transitioning from a morning of climbing to a hammock induced siesta, we decided to spend the rest of our afternoon relaxing by breezy Big Bear Lake:

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Sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, ferry riding, sport fishing, mountain biking, etc. – there are an absolute ton of activities to choose from when visiting Big Bear in the summer. For once in our lives, we opted to relax and parked along side the lake where we were able to take a small path down to the serene beach:

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It was beautiful. The sun was shining, the ducks were bathing, the pirates were sailing… wait, what??

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A few years ago, the mock pirate ship shown below, named the Timed Bandit, sank to the bottom of Big Bear Lake in a storm. Today, she is fully restored and back in business, offering 90-minute tours to visitors each summer ($19 for adults and $12 for children).

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I’m not sure if it was the pirates or the shimmering crystal blue waters, but soon enough Drew was inspired to jump into chilly Big Bear Lake. I on the other hand, opted to stay on land for survival purposes 😉

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Fulfilled by our weekend of disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with each other, we drove back home grateful for the much needed escape. Next weekend? Camping in Malibu!

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