Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 32: Sulphur Springs Campground to Messenger Flats Campground

This morning's hike took us through the outer fringes of the 2009 Station Fire. We walked past blackened oaks with brown leaves, black and gray sticks of manzanita, and charred stumps. Grass, wildflowers, fireweed, and poodle dog bush, some in bloom with delicate purple blossoms, were already moving in to replace what was burned. In places the poodle dog bush was difficult, if not impossible to avoid and we moved slowly to avoid getting the poodle dog bush rash many say is much worse than poison oak.

Although PCT hikers are allowed to pass through the closed section of the Angeles Forest, small segments of the original PCT remain closed and hikers must take a new reroute on dirt roads. Shortly after reaching the detour, we met up with a group of four women we had been leapfrogging all morning: Oasis, Honeybear, Sniper, and Cornnut. Enjoying the novelty of finding six female PCT hikers together on the trail, the six of us hiked together the rest of the day.

We reached the Mill Creek Summit Ranger Station by lunch. The Station allows hikers to use its water and grounds, and many other hikers also ate lunch there. The sight of all those packs and hikers leaned up in the shade of the ranger station building was amusing.

We reached Messenger Flats Campground by dinner. Although there were only a few other hikers there when we arrived, more hikers trickled in all evening, including Funk, Chef, and Trooper, who we hadn't seen since the junction to Idylwild. But even with such a big group, everyone disappeared into sleeping bags and tents by "Hiker Midnight" (9:00) and all was quiet.

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