Started: 08:40 @ MM 275.1 – Van Dusen Canyon (Elevation 7,260ft)
Finished: 15:45 @ MM 294.1 – Holcomb Creek Camp (Elevation 5,230ft)
Water: Drank 2L & 2 cups of coffee
Food: Massive SoCal Sufer Chick Breakfast (eggs, sausage, bacon, avocado, fresh fruit, muffins etc. etc.), Cliff Bar, Trail Mix, Chicken & Vegetable Stew with Dumplings, Nakd Bar, Chocolate Brownie and Fruit Pastells
Wildlife: 2 Chipmunks, 1 Woody Woodpecker, 0 Snakes and 0 Bears
Health: 0 Blisters and hardly any aches and pains … Aunt Flo has turned up!
It was a little before 6am when the boundaries between my conscious and subconscious worlds began to blur. I was in that wonderful state of almost lucid dreaming … dreaming that I was fast asleep in a booth at Denny’s, being gently woken by a waitress and asked what I would like for breakfast. I could smell and almost taste the coffee, bacon and baked goodies! Then I woke up and discovered that my dream was almost reality. No, I wasn’t in a booth at Denny’s, but yes there was the most wonderful aroma of breakfast wafting up the stairs. The SoCal Surfer Chicks had pulled out all the stops … down in the kitchen they had put on a breakfast buffet that would have given The Bellagio a good run for its money. I wasn’t sure where to start. Coffee seemed sensible, followed by fresh melon, mango, banana and yogurt. Next it was on to the eggs, bacon, sausage and avocado, then muffins and more coffee!The SoCal Surfer Chicks then drove us back to the trail. The scenario seemed so bizarre that I had to double check I wasn’t still dreaming … I was squeaky clean, freshly laundered, a belly full of breakfast and being driven up a dirt road to the PCT in a Cadillac … Anyone out there still wondering why they call me Hollywood?After many photos, hugs and kisses it was back to the business of walking. The weather was fair and the trail was kind. Apart from a tiny climb out of the canyon, it was a gentle downhill gradient all day. I pushed on ahead of Chance and The Flash … it felt fantastic to be out on the trail again. The zeros had rejuvenated my mind, body and spirit. About three hours in, a brief wintery shower tested my resolve, but not even the hailstones dampened my mood. Water was plentiful along this stretch of trail and so, in spite of a full resupply, my pack felt delightfully light as a scampered along.At some point in the afternoon I became aware that I was walking through a huge burn area. The landscape was charred and bleak, the trees withered and scorched. I felt a strange twinge of sadness as I gazed up at the majestic pines, still struggling to survive high above their blackened trunks. The whole area had an other worldly and somewhat sinister air about it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and then I remembered … The dreaded Poddle Dog Bush !!!There had definitely been a memo about the Poddle Bush but I clearly hadn’t read or inwardly digested the information fully. I recalled that it was rampant in burn areas. I didn’t remember it being deadly but it was unpleasant enough to warrant a detour in some sections. Most unfortunately I didn’t have the faintest idea what it looked liked, only a vague memory of flowers but no clue what color. My best option was to walk small and avoid touching any vegetation. My strategy was severely hampered by the fact that I had inadvertently managed to over-hydrate again. Off trail forays were a perilous affair.After several miles of burn, the green slowly began to return and I could relax once again. The last few miles before camp the trail followed the beautiful Holcomb Creek. I had to deal with my first real creek crossings and the constant sound of running water provided an additional challenged to my pelvic floor muscles. At a very civilized 4pm I arrived into camp, Chance came trotting along about 15 minutes later. We could have pressed on but it was a lovely spot with good water nearby and 19 miles was a very respectable day’s work. We set up camp and had all the chores and dinner squared away by 6 o’clock. Warmed by the last rays of the setting sun, I napped in my tent for a while. Once darkness fell we lit a camp fire, stared into the flames, discussed the meaning of life and sucked on Rowntree’s Fruit Pastells until it was Hiker Midnight and time for bed. The perfect end to the perfect day!