PCT Day 37 – Saturday May 20
Mill Creek Fire Station Mile 418.6 to North Fork Ranger Station Mile 436.1
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 17.5
Feet Ascended Today: 3145
Feet Descended Today: 3885
Current Elevation: 4180
I had a good day today. I slept well last night, despite the stinky toilets and cars flying by. I woke up refreshed and ready to face the day. We knew we had to do 17.5 miles today due to the Sand Fire Closure from mile 429.5 to mile 444. After much work by volunteers (called “Trail Gorillas”), this section of the PCT was just re-opened again last month for hiking but it is still closed to camping except at the North Fork Ranger Station. So we knew we had to make it there today.
The trail didn’t seem that hard today, but maybe that was due to the fact that I was feeling better. Also, although we did have some elevation gain and decline today, it seemed more gradual than on previous days. I don’t know. But the miles seemed to fly by. I started listening to a new podcast today – “Serial” (produced by This American Life) – and that had my interest the entire day.
We stopped to filter water around 10:00 am at a small stream about 6 miles from the firehouse. And then we stopped for lunch an hour or two later in the only shady spot we could find. There wasn’t much room to sit down due to the steepness of the trail so there were 5 of us perched just above the trail in a row, essentially blocking the trail with our packs and feet. The few hikers who went by during that time had to navigate a bit of an obstacle course.
After lunch the trail climbed a bit more and then started a descent towards the ranger station. This is where the burn area started. I saw lots of burned trees and charred embers scattered on the ground.
I should also mention that I saw A LOT of Poodle Dog Bush today. Poodle Dog Bush is a poisonous plant that will cause a reaction similar to Poison Oak upon contact with the skin. It also has a distinctive strong smell similar to marijuana and tends to thrive in places recently burned by forest fires. I have seen an increase in PDB plants the last couple of days but today it was a veritable PDB fiesta. I had to pay very close attention while hiking to ensure the plant did not rub on my skin or clothes as it frequently was growing just along side of the trail.
I found a nice spot in the afternoon with good cell reception to work on my blog and took a break. I eventually ambled into camp around 5:30 or 6:00. Lots of hikers were already seated around on the ground chatting and cooking dinner. They advised that the rangers had a cooler of sodas available for a $1 donation so I went over and purchased myself a 7-Up. Yum!! There’s nothing like a cold soda at the end of a long hot day of hiking. I’m a total sugar hound lately.
The rangers also provided bottled water (thank you!) but they asked that we only use it for drinking and not bathing or washing. I am so sweaty and gross right now. This has been my longest stretch so far without a shower or at least a creek I could rinse a few of my stinkier clothes in.
I tried to cowboy camp but mosquitoes kept dive-bombing my face so eventually I put up my bug net.
It’s only 18 mikes to Agua Dulce and Hiker Heaven but halfway there we’ll run into the Acton KOA Campground and they have a pool! So we’re going to do a short day today so we can go swimming. Also I’m not in a huge hurry as Daniel will be flying into Burbank the day after tomorrow and will pick me up at Agua Dulce. Yay!! I’m so excited!
I’m really looking forward to a chill couple of days and then I get two days off!! Squee!!