Three Points (mile 403.5) to Messenger Flat Campground (mile 430.6)
I dreaded this day for a long time. It has been unnerving to hear the countless recounts of the poisonous Poodle-Dog bush that riddles the burn areas between where we started today at Three Points all the way to Acton. Scary stuff. Many hikers had such bad rashes they needed to be hospitalized, others chose to wear special suits to walk through the area, and some hikers simply skipped the section and avoided the nasty plant all together. This was not my idea of a safe and enjoyable hike.
Luckily, my son Silly Chili is joining me for the 108-mile section between Three Points and Pine Creek Canyon. Having a few days off from college and work, the timing is perfect. Silly Chili is an experienced, strong, and fun hiker. Last year in the heavy snow year, he hiked the length of the Sierras with my husband and I in early June, facing treacherous stream crossings, icy passes, and miles of endless snow-covered terrain.
With a 4:45 am start, gentle terrain, and cool temps we completed 19 miles by 12:00 pm. After our first water source at Mill Creek Ranger Station, we decided to take our chances and skip the first short recommended Poodle-Dog detour. This is where things got interesting. Silly Chili is super coordinated and has great balance. We carefully walked through bad sections avoiding the plant however we could. Hikers have called this Dancing with the Poodle-Dog. Indeed it is. It is pretty amazing how this plant can be healthy and beautiful, but so dangerous at the same time.
In the hot afternoon we hit the Station Fire reroute that leads the hiker 8 miles through devastation and a road walk on the abandoned asphalt Gleason Road. Along the Station Fire Detour is a beautiful memorial dedicated to the firemen that lost their lives in the fire. A leather-bound journal is filled with thoughtful notes and letters at this very moving and special place.
We are now at the lovely Messenger Flats Campground that is complete with established campsites, picnic tables, and pit potties. It is fantastic. The campground is shaded and nestled in the pines. It is truly amazing that this gem was spared in the fire. A short distance in each direction are views of lone burned trees.
I am thankful to get through this area and loved having my son, Silly Chili as a hiking companion.
Things I learned from Silly Chili today:
– How to dodge Poodle Dog bush successfully (he is an expert slack liner, giving him a skills advantage when it comes to balance, coordination and careful maneuvering)
– To get a more organized system for packing everything, making certain items are more accessible when I need them and so I do not lose things. Paying attention to little details can be helpful as well, such as, situating my tent so the interior pockets actually end up at my head is something I now am willing take the minimal extra effort for to enjoy the added convenience.
– All about potassium and salt in the body (Silly is a Health Science major)
– To drink more water
– Stretch and do Yoga at every stop – he has a routine – I am in the learning stage
– It is okay to listen to music while doing hot, steep road walks
– Napping is a good thing
– How to use some iPhone photo editing apps
– Most of all he gave me confidence that I CAN do this trail, be healthy, and love it
Thank you my son for all you bring to my life.
Tomorrow we are heading to the Saufleys in Agua Dulce. They are the ultimate Trail Angels and I am looking forward to meeting them!