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PCT 2015 Day 26: Weekend Trail Magic

  • Start: 394.0
  • End: 418.6
  • Miles: 24.6 + 2.7 Burkhart Trail
  • Camp: Mill Creek Fire Station

To make up for the mishmash of yesterday, we packed in some bigger miles today. We managed this despite a fair few extended stops because it was Sunday and a lot of people had turned out to provide trail magic. 

Our first encounter was just after 4 miles in, where we found the most non-standard offering so far this trip. The trail angel had come up from near LAX, bringing a selection of things that hikers might have forgotten to pick up in town. Chap stick, salt and pepper packets, hot sauce, water flavourings, alcohol wipes and of course vodka miniatures. Slightly odd, but nice to see that there are some people thinking outside the box. We stayed for 45 minutes eating Baby Ruths and talking to the hikers that had stopped. 

Just 2.5 miles later we reached Camp Glenwood, a private campground that we were expecting to find locked but with an external faucet where we could take water. What we found was Max with a barbecue, about to make hamburgers. He greeted everyone with an ice-cold beer, and invited us to sit down and wait for food. Despite it being 10:30 in the morning we took him up on his offer and got out our tents and sleeping bags to dry out. Colin and Front Page turned up whilst we were waiting, and Max explained to us that his scout group had done some trail maintenance in the area. The highway passes above the trail in this area, and there is one bend where there are lots of road accidents. We had seen motorbike debris on the trail from an accident only a couple of weeks earlier, and could totally underarms how the trail could be destroyed if a car or larger vehicle was involved. It took us over an hour to move from Camp Glenwood.

At the Three Points trailhead just two miles further on, we found someone with a portable grill cooking up hot dogs. I wasn’t hungry after the hamburgers, but there were fresh carrots and apples to get in some vitamins. 

The rest of the afternoon we battled poodle dog bush. The sign by the last highway crossing had said that the trail gorillas had fixed up this section of the trail which had just reopened in 2015. They had shored up the erosion control and cut down all the poodle dog bush. Unfortunately the sign had been put up a while ago, because roots had regrown through the trail and poodle dog bush had taken over in parts. Poodle dog bush (or Eriodictyon parryi to the Latin nerds out there) is a really nasty plant with a bite akin to poison oak but worse. It lies dormant until a burn when the seeds crack open and it takes over. Teresia had told me early on in the trail about a daughter in law who was a botanist for the forest service and had picked some poodle dog bush to find out what it was. She ended up in hospital after it came into contact with just her hand. Luckily it is quite distinctive, and it smells strongly of weed so you know it’s there before you see it and can be on the lookout. On the downside it is pretty insidious and pretends to be other bushes, hiding in grass or scrub when it is quite small.

The evening’s destination was the fire house where we had heard it was possible to camp. When we got there we couldn’t see any signs of being able to pitch our tents, but there was a rest stop, Mill Creek, just below. We weren’t the first ones to arrive there, although most people were sheltering from the wind and cold in their tents. We sheltered from the wind in front of the restrooms to make dinner, and found Crash had had the same idea, having set up his cowboy camp right in front of the building. It seems like it’s going to be cold again tonight, but hopefully the wind will die down when it gets dark. It seems to be the pattern, although it isn’t a given. In any case, we have cars going by all night so it is unlikely to be totally quiet. 

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