PCT Mile: 454.5
The PCT is broken up into sections, by state, that are labeled alphabetically. We arrived yesterday to Agua Dulce, mile 454.5, putting us at the end of section D. Upon leaving Wrightwood we soon realized that D stands for DETOUR. This section had us road walking a lot to avoid an endangered species habitat (of the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog) and areas damaged by the 2009 Station Fire that has not only left the area very fragile but also COVERED in Poodle Dog bush. Poodle Dog is a hiker nemesis. It's a large, bushy shrub that can grow up to 7 or 8 feet tall. But it can also be 3 inches tall making it difficult to avoid. Poodle Dog is like the worst combination of Poison Oak and Stinging Nettle. It apparently causes blisters and a rash, but we may not develop said rash/blisters for 2 weeks. We had to dance around this junk for a few days and man, was it stressful. I only wish that someone had given it a more intimidating name that Poodle Dog... Anywho, With all of these sensitive areas, we walked a lot of road this week.
On our first day out of Wrightwood we, unfortunately, took a wrong turn at a trail junction and went 1.8 miles off trail and lost 1200 feet of elevation. We were none to thrilled when we realized our mistake which added 3.6 miles on an already 25 mile day. But, such is trail life and we made it to camp that night and slept like babies.
We decided after our long days into Wrightwood that we'd scale back a bit this section. We did a 28.5 (with those extra, getting-lost miles) mile day, a 25, a 15 and an 18 into Agua Dulce. The day we did the 15 miler was awesome. We arrived at our destination at noon and had the whole day to relax, hydrate and play cards. The next morning was the first morning in nearly 2 weeks I started walking without stiffness. It was fantastic. We rolled into Hiker Heaven yesterday to enjoy some time off in the company of the Saufleys... some of the most famous and giving Trail Angels out here.
Now for the visuals:
We passed the 400 mile mark with Just Retired, Branco, and Fairway.
The Mill Creek Fire Ranger Station. We slept on the back porch and are very grateful to the nice fire fighters who let us.
Ugh. The dreaded Poodle. Now, this is a pretty tame picture of this stuff. Imagine an 18 inch trail with this stuff lining either side. And growing all the way up and down the hills on both sides. Did I mention that it stinks, too?
The PCT into Agua Dulce.