Monday, May 5, 2014

Day 27. Poodle Dog Bush

mile 412 to 436

Hiked again all day with Coach and Whitewater.   It was a quick 7 miles to the Mill Creek Fire Station for our first water stop. Gorgeous morning light!
Whitewater hiking through the burned area.
The guys at the station gave us small bottles of water and it must have taken at least 8 to fill my containers.   But they said to take as much as we needed. The best part was they stopped traffic for us to cross the busy road. Like we are rock stars!
Coach gets the rockstar treatment at the road crossing.
The Station Fire burned through the area and in its wake the poodle dog bush thrives. It causes nasty allergic reactions if touched, and grows way up over the trail and is difficult to avoid. We decided to take the Mt. Gleason Road alternate to avoid the worst of the infestation. I thought the 13 mile paved road walk would be easy, but that road had steep grade and just went up and up over a thousand feet. It was surreal to be walking through the burned out area like some sort of post-apocalyptically movie especially near the charred remains of an old prison camp.  Other hikers who did the trail instead said the PDB was really bad so I'm glad we went the way we did.
Burned prison camp.
As it was, we still joined the regular PCT at Messenger Flats. The PDB, nasty overgrowth, and blowdowns made for difficult walking- how could this overgrown bushwhack of a deer path be PCT?!?!  My knees started to get scratched up from the sharp bushes.  So I put on my rain pants until I was sweating so much they became a sauna. Thankfully, walking with Coach and Whitewater made it fun regardless, with more good conversation and always positive attitudes.
Overgrown trail.
Arrived at the North Fork Ranger Station to find jugs of water, picnic tables, and tons of wind. The ranger here told us we could sleep down by the coral to be out of the worst of the wind. So we are in the valley down here with three other guys.  A little slumber party!   I'm hanging in the horse stall over some dried out horse poop. Actually it's a perfect hang and I'm so comfortable and my legs are so happy to be elevated.  Just put my ground cloth over the poop so when I step out of the hammock I'm OK--  how fast anywhere feels as comfortable as home!   
One of my favorite hangs.
The guys camped around me here are all in such a small space- and are blocking the gate of my little stall.  When I camp near other people I usually try to find a route to go pee in the middle of the night before I go to bed, but I forgot to do that!   Oh shoot I can't decide if I'll climb up over the metal stall and tromp through the brush or just pee right here in the stall even though it's right next to everyone else.  Not sure which option will make the loudest racket!  Haha such is the glamorous life of a PCT hiker. 
Everyone else camped near the horse stalls.
As usual, another great day on the PCT!  Life just doesn't get better than this- roadwalking, PDB, horse poop and all!

Cool pine cones.  Anyone know what kind of pines these are?

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