Near mile 325 the trail passes under Hwy I-15. There are two tunnels to walk through and a crossing over the Sante Fe railroad tracks. All morning long the trains seemed to creep along the tracks. I watched them as I climbed the steep path up the mountain until the railway disappeared from view.
Later that day there was Poodle-dog Bush to deal with and possibly a trail detour. Poodle-dog Bush is a flowering plant that can cause great irritation to exposed skin. Think Poison Ivy or Oak. It is a native plant that thrives in areas recovering from forest fire and one of those plants whose seeds lie dormant until a fire occurs, bringing it to life and offering a window for reproduction. Eventually the plant returns to dormancy, until the next cycle of fire.
The detour was along a road and an alternative to a section with rampant Poodle-dog Bush growth. A trail angel had left a note pointing to an example of Poodle-dog Bush helping hikers to learn what to look for. I was completely covered, wearing long sleeves and long pants, so I chose to take the trail instead of the detour.
The burned forest was stark and the trees were trunks of cinder carbon. There were no leaves left for shade, just tree trunk shadow created by a blazing hot sun. I began to see lots and lots of Poodle-dog Bush leaning into the trail and directly in my path. I noticed that the plant has a strong, sweet chyrsanthemum type odor. Often you can smell the plant, well before seeing it. I fought my way through the Poodle-dog Bush using my umbrella as a shield and my trekking pole as a sword. I did’t get a rash.
I made it to The Gruffy Campground on May 30th. There was a beautiful spring and offered excellent camp sites. Three other hikers came in after me and we sat around chatting for a time. Wishing we had a nice campfire, like our neighbors, who drove up in their car, I offered to build one. Alex and I searched for wood and kindling. We raided stacks of wood from other camp sites.
Deep Dish, a hiker from my Appalachian Trail hike taught me how to make a fire using one light or match. I gave his lesson to Alex and he volunteered to be in charge of putting it out. Alex gave up a few pages of his PCT guide book to help our fire along. We soon had a cheerful fire blazing in our camp fire ring…Deep Dish style.
The next morning I broke camp and hiked through even more fire burned forest on my way into Wrightwood for resupply. I passed a memorial to the firefighters who have died in the line of duty when putting down forest fires. Since then I have walked miles and miles across a fire raveaged landscape. In these places, especially the Angeles National Forest, the trail is often in disrepair; signs are burned and campgrounds lost but also, there are interesting signs of regrowth as the land recovers.