Day 28 – Poodle Dog Bush

Mile 407 to 430

Today is Todd’s birthday, so I give him one of my prized Starbucks VIA instant coffees. We have been hiking together the last couple of days. Hiking together means you keep passing each other and you end up at the same camping/tenting area.

It is strange that there are hundreds of hikers in the same section, heading in the same direction, and you rarely see them. If they are faster than you, they pass and you may never see them again. If they are slower than you, you pass them and may never see them again. The person with the perfect pace for you maybe a few miles ahead, or a few miles behind, and you never even know they are there. There are some places where hikers bunch up, like Paradise Cafe, Cajon Pass McDonalds and at water sources when they are few and far between. Lately we have been bunching up at decent campgrounds.

Poodle Dog Bush

Poodle Dog Bush

Today we face yet another trail reroute. This time for Poodle Dog Bush. For those that do not know, Poodle Dog Bush can cause extremely nasty rashes similar to Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, and Poison Sumac. You may notice those each contain a key word of warning. Whoever named this Poodle monster did so irresponsibly, almost encouraging you to pet it or at least let it brush up against your leg. I am not sure how many types of poodles there are, but the namer also felt compelled to clarify the “dog” kind. Then, as if required by legal counsel, added “bush”, so as not to mislead you into thinking it is an actual “dog.” I probably would have left the “dog” part out completely.

The official PCT routes around the Poodle Dog (not a real dog) Bush section. Todd and I, however, after surviving the dangerous Highway 2 road walk decide to take on these poodle puppies. We are after all, men. Yes men that got kicked off the trail by frogs, but men none the less.

After surviving the fierce poodles, we press on to Messenger Flatt’s campground, a popular bunching place. We catch up with Dish Cloth, Numbers, Hot Mess, and a bunch of other hiker names I fail to remember.

After dinner my smart phone goes completely dead. No problem. I hook it up to my charged external lithium battery. Problem. Still dead. I let it charge for about an hour. Nothing. Still dead. Maybe it does not like the cold. I tuck them in with me in my down sleeping bag. After another hour, still nothing. Panic. All my layers of stupidity rise to the surface. I am no longer carrying paper maps. They have to be mailed and picked up, and I never looked at them. I have no water report. I cannot blog. I cannot communicate with Terri regarding Sierra resupply shipments. I cannot even call Terri on someone else’s phone because I do not know her number. It is on my dead phone. I do not know my son’s number, my dad’s number, my sister’s number. I am a complete idiot. The number I do know is our old land line that, after a zillion years, we just got rid of.

As I wallow in my stupidly, I start thinking about the lithium battery in my sleeping bag, frantically trying to charge my stubborn phone. Aren’t these the batteries you cannot take on airplanes because they overheat and burst into flames? PCT News headline: Retard burns to death trying to charge lithium batteries in a down sleeping bag.