Hitch 4: The Great Wall of Poodle (by J “Shuga Bear” Otto)

June 13-20, 2012

We spent this hitch on a five mile stretch of the Gabrielino Trail. We found two sweet remote campsites (West Fork and Valley Forge) right next to our work sites in the middle of the woods right next to a creek. Pros: nalgenes filled with ice cold crisp water, after-work trail running, and the small joy of rinsing off all that dirt from hands, arms and face at the end of the day. Cons: all the bugs. Oh, and flat tires. On our drive in, one of our tires punctured on the side wall. All of our stuff was in the back of the truck. Within half an hour, we were back on the road.

The trail to and at work was gorgeous (and relatively flat for the first 1.5 miles, hugging the creek). We finished that first 2.5 miles within a day and a half. The trail was in pretty rough shape and some sections we needed to build new trail, as a result of erosion. Annie and I got to build six bomber check steps in a section of trail reroute. The last mile and a half was almost all retread. We were all beat by day 8.

In the middle of our hitch we left the Gabrielino to work with the Bear Canyon Trail volunteer group. Despite two of our members getting a little lost on the sometimes disappearing trail, it was a successful day of digging retread and sawing. This hike was also spectacular. It followed the creek for most of it, had a sick waterfall (a popular spot with the locals), and multitudes of swimming pools and dwarf waterfalls. Despite the heat, the breeze flowing through the canyon against the water made for wonderful trail digging conditions.

Overall a great hitch…

Except for the Great Wall of Poodle. Our struggle with our arch nemesis continues. While walking down the Gabrielino, there suddenly appeared a vast field of purple flowers, littered with butterflies and hummingbirds. Up to seven foot tall plants, branching over the trail, marked our stopping point for trails maintenance. We worked around it by moving camp and entering the trail from higher up. From afar, the landscape was beautiful, with the purple and green creating a stark contrast against the blackened trees and chaucy granite slopes; on closer inspection, we perceived the impenetrable blockade in the trail, as one couldn’t even see the tread for the vast amounts of PDB. Not letting it break our spirits, we shook our fists at it while we dug tread up to the point where it first appears.