I can’t keep pace with ultra-marathoner Tour Guide and her posse, so I say goodbye, let them pass, and resume my pace of 2.25 miles/hour.
Today’s assignment is to dodge the dreaded poodle dog bush. It grows like mad in recent burn zones, has the undeniable aroma of wet dog spritzed with skunk juice, and can evidently give you a rash similar to poison oak.
By 10am it’s already sweltering. With my taped ankle, I cha-cha-cha and limbo around the poodle dog, hoping the little pieces that brush up against me don’t result in welts and itching.
I make it to the Mill Creek Fire Station by 1pm. They invite hikers to rest in the shade of their porch and fill up on water before the next 24 miles of dry road walking (which helps us escape the inexorable poodle dog). I hide in the shade, eat lunch, change my socks, and drink liters of water. Its 2pm and I know that 3pm-5pm is the worst, hottest time to hike. I really don’t want to move, but I’m getting anxious.
It’s yet another slow, hot, uphill slog – now on asphalt. I take a million little breaks. Once, I sit down on red ants. They crawl in my pants and bite my ass. I eat dinner, make up songs, and encounter a sweet message from Team Tour Guide:
As I finally near the campground where I’ll spend the night, I am perfectly positioned to see the lights of LA begin to glow.