[pct-l] Poodle Dog Bush Detours Miles 425.1 to 429.5 (Section D)

Eric Martinot eric at martinot.info
Tue May 8 14:11:48 CDT 2012

Until Mile 425, the Poodle Dog Bush (PDB) on parts of the trail was just
a nusance, prompting swerves from side to side or the "Poodle Dog
Ballet" of squeezing between bushes on both sides.  (Parts that come to
mind are a few miles on the climb out of Mission Creek in Section C, a
half-mile when climbing up from I-15 in Section D, and Section D from
Miles 415-439.)

However, at Mile 425.3, the PDB gets much worse, the trail disappears
into a field of the stuff, some chest high. No way to avoid PDB all over
the clothes walking through that.  After consulting the Water Report
comment for 426.5 that the PDB was "impassable" and to "take detour", I
decided to back up and improvise a detour, not having seen anything
posted about a detour yet. What follows are my improvised detours, which
cover about the same distance and elevation gain as the real PCT.

Detour #1 (Miles 425.1-426.7):  At Mile 425.0, the PCT comes out onto a
dirt road and you hike on the road for less than 0.1 mile before coming
to a road junction and resuming tread just next to the right-branching
road fork.  That tread quickly leads you into a PDB quagmire, so don't
take it.  Instead, take the left fork road up the hill SW then S for
about 1/2 mile (passing a road branching off to the right along the way)
until you come to a paved road. Turn right and walk along the paved road
for about 3/4 mile until you are under the double sets of power lines. 
Just past the power lines (and an abandoned construction vehicle) you
see a dirt road vearing off to the left with a campground-like sign
pointing that way.  Take this dirt road.  (If you continue on the paved
road, you first come to a memorial for the firefighters involved in the
2009 Station Fire, with picnic table and gravestones, and then enter the
fenced ghost town of the fire camp, with dozens of gutted buildings to
rival any post-apocalyptic movie.)  Take the dirt road for about another
1/2 mile, along the way it becomes paved again,  until you come to the
first obvious saddle, which has a broken telephone pole lying on its
side in the dirt. Return to the PCT at this saddle -- you can see a PCT
trail sign at the saddle and the PCT passing closely under the saddle
from the north to the west (at about Mile 426.7).

However, the PCT continuing from this saddle also looks bad, hillsides
overgrown with PDB.  I walked up the road 0.1 mile to the next saddle
and looked down and could see the trail on the hillside below going
through a field of PDB.  The PDB was so thick I could not even climb
down to the trail from the road at this second saddle.  So that prompted
Detour #2, which I first thought would involve taking the road all the
way to Messenger Flat, but it turns out you don't have to go that far.

Detour #2 (Miles 426.7-429.5):  From the first saddle, continue on the
paved road up the hill as it winds up to Mt. Gleason. After something
like 1-1/2 or 1-3/4 miles steep uphill, the road makes a sharp
switchback from going NW to going SE. At this point there is a really
old forest road heading NW beyond a white metal gate, impassable to
vehicles its so old, but very hikable.  This road is shown on the topo
map (dashed line).  Follow the forest road moderately uphill for about
0.6 mile and just as the road starts to descend you will intersect the
PCT at exactly Mile 429.5, and the PCT tread is obvious. 

After Mile 429.5 through about Mile 438, there is still PDB on the
trail, but its not "impassable," just back to the old PDB ballet.  Parts
of the trail after Messenger Flat have been recently brushed (with PDB
carcasses underfoot, don't touch the bottom of your shoes!), but the
pattern of brushing is strange and inconsistent. (Perhaps that means
other parts will be brushed in the near future, including the worst

The PDB is mentally tiring because it requires the brain to continuously
pattern-match among all the green stuff on the trail all day long,
rather than doing what it could be doing, such as pondering the
universe. Imagine having to actually pay attention to what's in front of
you! The PDB also prompted a new evening camp practice -- designating a
"toxic waste site" for keeping my pants separate from everything else!

Double O

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