Beck vs The Poodle Dog

Day 23 410.6 to 436.3: 26.3 miles!

Early early up! It’s 430am and I try to be as quiet as I can packing up as the guys are still asleep. I’ve picked a magical camping spot for once. The sunrise is perfect- shining deep red over the top of distant mountains and the valley we just climbed up below. Sam wakes up and we sit in awed silence watching for a few minutes before I shoulder my pack and head out.

I pass Cookie’s tent and about a mile later find Kyle heading out. We walk and chat a little, we look at the gorgeous clouds below us before it becomes clear that his giant legs take about 1 step to my 2 and he pulls ahead to make the steep descent. It’s long and I try running little bits of it  -this helps the knees but I worry that one wrong step might break my ankle with all the awkward extra weight on my back.

The fire station below has a toilet!, rubbish bin!, water! and a table for us to sit at! Kyle is still there when I arrive and Cookie gets there not long after.  We eat things, get water, sign the register, read who is in front of us (Tuna helper was on his 49th mile of the day when he signed it) and finally after they have left and I’ve  been there too long (probably wishing some nice firemen would come and use their exercise yard) I head out. A roadworker out on the road I have to cross tells me I’m crazy. Today I have to agree – it’s a hot one!
There’s a whole bunch of poodle dog bush I have to avoid. Poodle dog bush may sound cute and fluffy, but stinks and gives a terrible painful rash so you have to be careful to not touch it at all. It grows rapidly after fires and this section was burnt out by a fire recently, meaning lots of naughty dog on the trail.

I head towards a camp area marked near the trail for a lunch break/ nap/ respite from the heat. It becomes clear quickly that it is too far off trail for my liking, so I stop on a dirt road and set up my sleeping mat with my sun umbrella. Hiker trash perfection! I cross all fingers and toes no one uses this road!
There is lots more rotten poodle ahead. The trail switchbacks heading out into the sun where there is no poodle  (yay!) then crosses back into a darker damper section with lots of poodle (boo). This continues for a while, and I hike to the sound of my swearing at the dog until finally I get to the top of the climb and all is (relatively) clear.

I have 6 more miles to cover before the next water, so I sit for 5 and do all the ‘resting chores’ – take my shoes off, empty the dirt, take socks off and shake out dust, drink some water and finally I dig out 2 dark choc peanut butter cups I have been saving for when energy is required. Powered by chocolate I pack up and march on. Determined to arrive before dark,  I take no breaks in this last section and finally arrive at North Fork station. I hiked a long day as I’m planning to head to Acton Campground as early as possible tomorrow so I can spend a day in the pool! Yes a Pool!!!

I’m greeted by Ron who is a volunteer at the station, who hands me and apple! Real fruit! Not dehydrated!  I love how excited the PCT gets me about “normal” things. The station is kind of eerie as it is no longer comissioned and is basically just used as a water point for PCT hikers. I’m not entirely sure, but I think Ron stays here for the entire hiker season just greeting us and arranging snacks for purchase. There is soda!!! And chocolate!!!

Two Patch/ Sam (he isn’t sure if he wants the name yet) and Cookie arrive and we set up camp next to the horse corral. The PCT is for hikers and equestrian so there are a few of these campgrounds about with horse facilities. I’ve seen a few horses on trail, but none from anyone actually thru-hiking.
Then Rodrigo arrives! Cookie & Sam buy a bunch of sodas and we sit around in our sleeping mats taking sips from all the flavours. Soda partay!! Amazeballs! Things can get wild out here on the PCT.

A cloud descends upon us so we scurry back into our tents in the dark and hide away for the night. Except Rodrigo, who cowboy camps because he is Mexican and crazy.

26.3 miles! A new record 🙂

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