Pacific Crest Trail (2018) 5: Land of Poison Oak

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 – 13.10 miles

Today was a descent to/ascent from the beautiful McCloud River. Of this area, Four-Eyes had told me something along the lines of ‘the plants are poison oak, the trees are poison oak, everything is poison oak’. I was imagining a green tunnel and hoping the descriptions were exaggerated. Conclusion: yes and no. I found that in most areas, the poison oak was avoidable as long as I stayed on the trail, but avoidance required an annoying amount of concentration since the poison oak was growing from the cliff face as well as low to the ground. There were a few metres of trail after crossing the road beside the river where staying on the path would have meant plunging into poison oak, and hikers had made a side trail accordingly. The most troublesome spot was a few miles into the ascent from the river, where I had to hold the poison oak aside with my poles while pushing through other vegetation overgrowing the trail.

Hold my backpack for a minute while I descend this totally innocuous slope to pee

On my way down, I met a cyclist coming up. He was polite and yielded, asked me about where I was going and coming from, etc. I couldn’t remember whether bikes are banned on the entire PCT or just certain sections, but my inner cynic wondered whether he was being so polite because he knew that he was doing something wrong (I haven’t met many cyclists on trails but have never had one yield to me before, so this was a noteworthy event). My inner optimist hopes that he was just a nice guy but yes, when I reached the road by the river, there was a sign clearly stating that bikes aren’t allowed. Also, did he know that he was biking through poison oak… 


McCloud River is gorgeous. On the other side were numerous side trails descending to the water. I sampled one when the sound of rushing water grew louder and found pretty cascades.


I was thinking of camping at Fitzhugh Gulch Creek, but didn’t like the site. I feel that as an animal I should like lush and sheltered places with water, but I just don’t. I demand high and barren slopes! I ended up camping along the Ah-Di-Na Campground Road (is that better though…). A few vehicles passed but no one bothered me. Lots of mosquitoes.

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