Day 28: A day of flowers, overgrown prickly bushes, and lots of poodle dog bush!!

Day 28
May 16
mile 407-430.6
23.6 miles

I was feeling very tired, so I slept in until 6:22. It was 35.7 degrees out! I had my favorite breakfast of love crunch granola and then made some coffee. Yum! Postholer was long gone.
I was on the trail at 7:13 and got hot quickly. I had to stop and peel off some layers by 7:30. The trail climbed, but did so gradually, and the first few miles passed by quickly and nicely. Thoughts were flowing through my head and I wasn’t concerned with what mile I was at (a rarity!). The lizards were my companions and I would stop and talk to them. Some did push-ups for me. I showed one of them how big my skirt was getting on me. Finally, I was losing some fat!
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At 9:40, I found a nice rock to take a break on just before the Station Fire detour. I saw that I had reception, but there were no incoming texts, which made me feel a bit sad. A guy carrying a ridiculous amount of weight on his back walked by in the other direction. He wasn’t interested in chatting. I wondered what he was doing with all that stuff! I thought about what food I wished for and found that I had a craving for Reese’s Pieces.
I took the detour and headed down a gravel path. I stopped to try to take a picture of a bird in a tree when Meredith came along and asked if she could hike with me. She told me that she had wanted to hike the trail since she was 13 years old in 1968! Back then, the trail wasn’t even complete. After the legislature had passed, she found herself busy being a mother, and it was only now that she felt she was free enough to go ahead and hike the trail. I found her story fascinating! I felt like she was a true pioneer of backpacking. She talked about how she would go out with friends in Montana, choosing their own route based on wanting to climb a certain mountain that they saw or get to a particular lake just because it looked interesting, and then figure out a route to get there! I had never done anything like that. I have only ever followed a trail already in place. She informed me about the history of the PCT and how the boy scouts went out to find certain sections of the trail before WWII, a little about what went into choosing a route around a mountain, and about checkerboard ownership. There was so much I had no idea about! We walked along a ridge and could look down below to see the PCT which was closed due to the amount of poodle dog bush that grows in burned areas. I was glad I had taken the detour route this time because it seemed like we had a better view.
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Meredith kept looking to see if she could see Postholer walking down below. At 11:49, we reached the fire station, where her husband was picking her up for the day. She would be going back to do an earlier section of the trail with her daughter the following day. I spotted Dinnertime on the porch below and called out to him. Meredith and I said goodbye and I went down to the porch to find JT and his mom, as well as Craig and Dinnertime.
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I sat down at a picnic table and looked into my food bag, knowing there was nothing appetizing in there. Then, JT asked if I wanted the last piece of pizza. I was so thankful for that! I ended up joining them at their table and got a banana, an orange juice, and a donut, as well! This was the best break ever!
Dinnertime said he was going to hike 17 more miles today. The thought made me groan out loud. No way would I be doing that! He said that he might never see us again, but would more likely see us tomorrow- and if not, then on Facebook! Anastacia, Archie, and Leftover came in and took their lunch break. The girls made fun of Leftover for still having a dehydrated meal that he started with at the Mexican Border in his food bag.
I took off after having spent an hour there and used the restrooms down by the road. The traffic attendant offered me water, but I had filled up at the water station. He wanted to know why I wasn’t hiking with the guy ahead, and then wanted to know how often we got showers and how many miles and hours we hiked a day. I appreciated his interest! As soon as I was about to start the climb, three day hikers came down and talked to me. One of them told me I was crazy! They asked if they could take my picture and then told me about some of the wildflowers I would be seeing (another thing I knew nothing about), including scarlet bugler, which Meredith thought was called firecracker. The hike started slowly for me as I decided to post some flower pictures on facebook. It always takes a long time to upload photos, and I later wondered why I was wasting my time doing that, because no one seemed to care about what flowers I was seeing! JT and I kept passing one another. At one point, I headed off on the wrong trail and JT called after me to tell me that the PCT was down there! (Thanks, JT!). I climbed another hill and for some reason, completely missed the Station Fire memorial! The trail was overgrown with prickly bushes and poodle dog bush, making my progress slow. I saw many beautiful flowers, though, which gave my mood a boost and counteract the frustration I was feeling.
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Mountain lilac lined the sides of the trail on my final mile of the day and it was hard not to keep stopping to take pictures.
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Finally, I reached Messenger Flats campground, where I would stop for the night. Before doing anything, I took out some wet wipes to try to wash off the poodle dog bush oils on my hands and legs! I found it impossible to avoid this bush. I found the tar from a tree was almost impossible to remove! I found a little area to set up my groundcloth and sleeping bag and then cooked my pasta at the picnic table, adding some tuna fish for protein, and crackers for a different taste. Then I had a little trail mix and a peppermint pattie for dessert! JT had come in after me, followed by the three from Redding, and Lullabi. Archie wanted to know how to get the poodle dog oil off her body. Lullabi jokingly asked JT if his mom could come pick us up and have 11 people take showers at her house! They were originally planning to make it to the Saufley’s tomorrow, but had changed their minds and decided to stop at the KOA campground instead. There was lots of worried talk about washing their clothes in a washing machine that might have poodle dog bush oils from other hikers’ clothing in it .
Craig passed by and decided to keep hiking. He said he had set a goal for himself of listening to the entire set of Led Zeppelin albums by the end of the day.
Through the trees, I watched an amazingly beautiful array of colors from the setting sun and then got into my sleeping bag.
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