I write this as I lay suffering from HBD (Hiker Binge Disorder). It’s what occurs when hungry hikers come off of the trail to towns where food is plentiful. Then hikers eat until they can eat no more, but they decide to eat more. It’s an unpleasant affliction which can only be cured by hitting the trail again.
Elena, carter, and I are all resting our bodies in Agua Dulce at a trail angel’s house called Hiker Heaven. It’s a large backyard with tents and cots all over. It’s a large hiker compound. The past week of hiking has been anything but a scenic trail. After we all stayed at Marion’s house (another big thanks for hospitality, rejuvenation, and a boost to morale) we climbed up in to the San Gabriel mountains from Cajon Pass.
The trail ascended until it descended and then would ascend once again. It’s like we’re just walking on an elevated treadmill, except in Southern California, and without an end in sight. The trail roller-coastered through the San Gabriel’s for a couple of days until I reached what was to be the first of many road-walks. I had the choice to either take a 20 mile trail detour or a 5 mile road walk to bypass a 4 mile section of the PCT. The trail was closed to protect a toad. I chose the road walk because 5 is less than 20. I walked on the highway as cars sped by showing me how slow humans walk. Ten miles later the trail began to be impassable due to the vicious poodle-dog bush.
Poodle-dog bush is green leafy plant with purple flowers that grows rampantly in burn area a year after a fire. It gives people a rash that is similar to poison oak. It’s scent is a mix of minty dirty feet and marijuana. PCT legend has it that one hiker thought that a poodle-dog bush was some dank OG Cali bud and smoked it. The same hiker was later hospitalised. Anyways, I took another road walk for the next 36 miles to avoid any potential conflict with this mean bush. After this day I decided that roads are for cars and trails are for humans. The next day I finally reached Agua Dulce and left the barren Angeles National Poodle-Dog Bushery. Although the trail hasn’t been scenic lately, or even a trail, I celebrated the 400 mile milestone and my high school graduation.
People on the trail have many different mind sets. There is the ultralight crowd who try to minimise the weight of their packs and maximise their mileage. Then there are the PCT purists who need to walk every inch of the trail with their own arbitrary set of rules which they believe to be universal. Unfortunately, both of these groups of people carry the assumption that everyone thinks the same as them. I’ve come to the conclusion that the right way to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, or do anything for that matter, is the way that makes it the most enjoyable and fun. After all, if you’re not having a good time doing something, then why would you keep doing what you’re doing?
We should all reach the holy grail, Kennedy Meadows, in the next week which will indicate the end of our desert days. It’s only the beginning of the trail, but I’m already looking forward to the gray, chilly, drizzly, wet, wonderful days of the Pacific Northwest.