Day 33: Poodle Attack

Rainbow Dash caught us last night! It was after we collapsed at the water source, ate our food, and were driven out of our picnic table by a horde of trail bros. I was lamenting my immediate and deep dislike of people (a problem that has been haunting me since childhood), when Little Ant exclaimed “Rainbow Dash is here!”

We have been spending days wondering where she was and when we would see her — shooting out texts when service was barely there (as it was never good), putting her initials in pine cone hearts left by other hikers, and leaving messages in trail registers. “Catch us soon!” I wrote.

And then she sat outside of our tent, shivering against the quickly cooling night with Ant’s jacket thrown over her legs. We did a brief catch up, and planned on a late start and leisurely day. 

 And today was just that — beautiful and cool, sun glinting off perfect, ridiculously fluffily picturesque clouds in the distance. She told us all about what she saw while away, how much she loved the trail, and past relationships. We giggled and trotted along, a merry group of three — Ant leading the way, me following, and Dash heading up the back.

And then, with plenty of warning in the guidebooks (but no warning on the ominous signs claiming flash floods, downed trees, and any number of other terrifying mishaps), we walked right into the poodle dog bush.

Freud would jump on me now — as my thumbs just typed “poodle God bush.” But honestly, this stuff feels all powerful. Our moods plummeted from a 99% (there is always room for improvement, as it rose to 100% with the addition of peanut M&Ms) to the low 30s.

Poodle exhausts me. Our pace dropped with our moods from a completely respectable 2.5 mph to close to 1 mph, a disheartening way to climb 3,000 feet. It smells like rank weed and reaches into the trail, holding its arms out to meet you like a motionless zombie just looking for sweet human flesh. 

 But why? What does it want from us? Why does it need to crush our spirits?

I did some more research today, as I needed to know what exactly happens to you when poodled — and unlike word on the trail, it isn’t swift, vengeful death. Poodle grabs you with tiny little hook thingys and causes a rash or blistering like poison oak. It thrives when mayhem happens — like a fire and then rain (i.e. the trail now). That means it is everywhere — hanging over downed trees, creeping up at the edge of the trail, sweeping through the meadows, growing ever closer to us humans.

It is the slowest moving evil I know.

I had a strong desire at multiple points in the day to rub my face in it, roll in it like a horse, or simply pick it. I wanted to assuage Ant’s fear that followed us all down the trail. 

 But eventually we headed down into the valley, found a lovely space to eat dinner, and finally camped. We don’t know yet if we have been hit — we have 12 hours to 2 days to show symptoms. I feel invincible. Ant feels terrified. Dash is happy to be out on the glorious PCT!