Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail – Day 29

Day- 29
Date- 5-12-16
Location-  Messenger Flats campground
Elevation- 5,919 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 23.8 mile
Distance Traveled Total- 430.4 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 80s low 90s
Injuries- none
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- High
Days without shower- 0
Hunger/craving- High


We got a bit of a later start today, hitting the trail a little after 8 am.  I was almost positive that Katana would be too sore to walk, but surprisingly, she was rearing to go, not a hitch in her step.  She’s been recovering quicker and quicker, and as we approach our one month anniversary,  she has adapted incredibly well.


The first half of the day was for the most part mundane. Lots of gradual uphill walking, mostly through burned out forest.

A rather new plant species has been cropping up here in California, and it’s very common in recently burned out areas.  It’s called “poodle dog bush,” and it’s worse than poison oak,  ivy, and sumac. It causes swelling, rashes,  discoloration, burning,  itching,  and respiratory irritation. It’s unique because it looks and smells very much like Marijuana; so much so,  that many unfortunate people have tried to smoke it.  You always smell the poodle dog bush before you see it.


This entire stretch of trail today was over run with the poodle bush. Many times it was hanging right over the side, causing you to have to side step around it to avoid contact.

Late in the morning, my worse nightmare was realized.  Katana walked straight into a large poodle bush in the side of the trail,  brushing the entire left side of her body against it.  I quickly yelled at her and steered her back out of it by pushing her with the side of my staff.  The only reason I was upset about it,  was because I was positive it was going to transfer onto me at some point.  I tried to avoid touching her too much for the rest of the day, but secretly accepted that there was a good chance that I would probably end up with it.

Twelve miles into the day,  we reached a remote  fire station that specialized in wild fires.  This station was the only water for nearly 20 miles,  until we reached a remote ranger station where we could get more.


The day was blistering hot in the low 90s already when we arrived at the fire station around noon. We laid up in the shade and drank water for three hours before deciding to head out and attempt another 12 miles.  Right before heading out,  who comes strolling in?  A smiling Mason.

Turns out we were right when we suspected him of making a wrong turn.  He’d gonna several miles into the closed off zone before realizing his mistake and doubling back (no frogs seen or injured). The extra double miles simply put him too far behind us, that he wasn’t able to catch back up until today.  No big deal,  he turned up safe and sound!

The poodle bush was so bad in this next stretch,  that there was actually a detour down an old service road that bypassed that section of trail,  before reconnecting with it 7 miles later. This was one instance that I was more than happy to take the detour.

Before reaching the detour, Katana and I encountered another swarm of thousands of bees traveling down the mountain together.  Rather than fly over us,  they flew right through us this time,  allowing me to get a video of it. The buzzing was deafening,  but I don’t think the video picked it up.

The service road was actually paved, but in rough shape.  It was eerie to walk on a paved road,  for hours,  without seeing a single car, or anything else for that matter. It felt almost post apocalyptic.


We finished up hiking in the dark, around 9pm, and were able to get the hammock hung.  We’re shooting for a 14 mile day into a KOA rv campground tomorrow that shouldn’t be too bad…

Go to Day 30.


  1. It still amazes me that the same trail can give everyone such a different experience. When Sas and I were at the fire station, it was after hiking 18 miles through rain, sleet, hail, and snow and we were getting dangerously cold- it’s hard for me to picture that place without thinking about shivering!!
    I did, however, have the same apocalyptic feelings about the road on the poodle dog bush detour. It was pretty erie!!

  2. Whew, thank goodness Mason showed up! I think I was the only one scared! As far as Poodle Bush………well I would have to turn around and skip that part! Very allergic to poison ivy and not wanting to be miserable. Was glad to get so many days sent to so fast! Be safe.

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