Poodle Dog Bush

Lots of burn areas in this section. Mountains recovering from fire have a charm of their own - desolate, exposed, hot and overgrown with the dreaded poodle dog, a bush that smells of weed but if touched causes rashes similar, if not worse, than poison oak.

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To avoid swimming through this stuff we detoured on some forestry roads. 

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Ludo is from France, near ze Alps. Flore isn't from France, she's from Paris. 

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Bambi and Zombi cowboy camp on their sheet of Tyvek. 

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Timing is everything when getting a ride into town. Luckily just as we walked into Agua Dulce, this truck, already packed with hikers, was able to fit a few more stinky souls in the back and shuttle us into "hiker heaven" — a trail angels place with showers and laundry. 

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Lush vegetation. 

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Raging bitch making some early morning miles. 

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While hiking together we ran into an ultra marathon runner cruising through these hills. This man had done almost all the gnarly ultra races, including western states. I had just finished reading "Born to Run" and loved talking to this guy about those stories, some of which he witnessed first hand. We think he's probably famous. 

After this trail I'll have to find something to do with these new legs of mine. Though, the idea of a 26 mile casual run sounds a bit too burly for my britches. 

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Ludo shows the hills whose boss.

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Stampede passes the famous Vasquez Rocks. Featured in an episode  "Arena", Captain Kirk rolled a boulder onto a reptiloid alien called a Gorn.  

The area is also featured as the location of the Command Center/Power Chamber for the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

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After passing under some highway, fellow hikers enjoy the cool concrete. We all took pleasure in shouting "Echo!" at approaching hikers. 

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I prefer the message outside. 

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What a gem - finely illustrated vintage sign, with shameless use of cooper black. 

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Who turns down a free foot rub? Definitely not Monsoon.