We had a few more direction problems once reaching big bear, and a gas light issue (in that the light came on while driving up the mountain, making me worried that we wouldn't find a gas station soon enough) so it took a little longer to finally arrive at the right place. The other OCTR runners (the fast ones) were already there and about ready to go. We realized we didn't have the "wilderness pass", but keira assured us that we'd just have to mail in $5 with the ticket and all would be well. A few last bathroom stops and gear checks and we were all off!
The fast guys immediately split off, leaving B and I in our relaxed pace up Cougar Crest. It was a beautiful morning and relatively cool (considering it would be in the 90s later in the day). I discovered early on that my pace was actually a bit fast than Bs (a completely new experience), so I would often get ahead of her for a bit, then take some pictures or walk until she came into view, so that we wouldn't get separated. We met a very nice hiker in the beginning that we would end up seeing later in the day. The first views out over big bear were just gorgous. It was a perfect day to be on the mountain.
We were initially trying to retrace the 15 miler loop that B and many other OCTR had completed in the Holcolm valley race a few weeks prior, but realized early on that without a map that wouldn't necessarily be possible. After a few miles on Cougar we switched over to the PCT trail, which I absolutely loved! Having just watched "The Runner" about David Horton's PCT adventure, I was excited to experience this trail (well, a few miles of it at least) myself.
A great last long run in Southern California :)