Taking my first zero day after a two 30 mile days to bring me here to Hiker Heaven in Ague Dulce. Tuesday I met Todd and Spot right before the station fire detour. Because of the amount of environmental efforts and warnings about violators I decided I should take the station fire detour. A road walk on rough dirt roads but mostly parallel to the trail with all the same views. Nice ridge line.
Got to Mill Creek Ranger Station and they said everyone just hikes the dirt road all the way to Messenger Flats, bypassing 10-12 miles of PCT, to avoid the dense Poodle-dog-bush. My notes say it's not too bad till you get to mile 425 so I hit the trail instead of hiking the road. Lots of Poodle-dog-bush and really slowed me down but was doable. At least I think it was. I'll know in a day or two. Was heading for Big Buck Trail Camp but it looks like it was taken in the fire. All I saw was a field of Poodle dog. Finally found a spot to camp away from Poodle-dog at the junction of a dirt road and the trail. The dirt road was my out if the Poodle dog got to bad but at this point, the area that was rumored to be the worst, but Wednesday I decided to brave on. I think someone had tried clearing the trail last year as there was parts of poodle dog plants littering the trail but at least not brushing against you. You still had to keep your attention against stray plants but very doable. It got worse toward the end of the 10 miles section but I'm glad I did the trail instead of the detour. I think almost everyone is doing the road walk and assuming it's worse then it is. PS. that poodle dog really smells bad!
Hiked out to the KOA campground and bought an ice tea and ice cream. I was tempted to spend the night but it was early and the Hiker Heaven was only 10 miles. Figured one last push and a zero day would feel better then another 10 miles in the morning. Vasquez Rocks was a very cool place. Meet a local hiker and he suggested I deserved a break and I should take this shortcut on the road around this next section. What is with all these people trying to talk you out of hiking the trail? Finally made Hiker Heaven around 7:30pm but the two days of 30 miles might have been a bad idea since I now have another blister. I thought I was feeling so good after Tuesdays 30 mile day that I was over my foot problems. Oh well, Guess a zero is the right medicine. Still having a great time! Meet Coyote and Miner.
Today, my first zero, started with lots of chores: breakfast in town with Coyote and Miner, resupply shopping, washing out gear including my backpack, email, etc. A few more hikers have shown up: Tombstone, Spot, and Todd, and I'm Fine. So far I still have a hole camp trailer to myself. Found a frozen lasagna to cook for dinner and Todd left me two beers! Life is good at mile 454.5.