START: Half mile past Long Valley Loop Road (690.1 miles)
FINISH: Kennedy Meadows General Store
DISTANCE: 12.7 miles (20.4 km)
TOTAL DISTANCE: 702.8 miles (1130.8 km)
Shuffled into Kennedy Meadows, the final twelve miles taking a painfully slow seven hours (such a stretch would normally take around three hours with the promise of hot food and Ben & Jerry’s at trail’s end). The time had come to seek medical attention. Fortunately I was able to quickly procure a ride to the town of Ridgecrest, courtesy of a couple of wonderful Oregonians by the names of Judy and Dan (?), whom I had previously met just after Mt. Laguna on the second day of the PCT.
Upon gaining my destination, I checked into a motel, had a long-overdue shower, bought a spare set of clean (sort of) clothes from the Thrift Store and finally headed to the hospital. To cut a long story short, I was given an immeditate steroid shot, then prescribed a steady diet of Prednizone, antihistamines, elevation and rest.
The Poodle Bush had emerged victorious in a unanimous points decision. By the last round (ie. the final stretch into Kennedy), I felt like Rocky Balboa, just trying to go the distance in the original movie (“cut me Mick, cut me……….I don’t want to do it………..cut me”).
Notes in regards to my experience with Poodle Bush:
- Some minor symptoms were evident after 24 hours, however, things didn’t really become uncomfortable until some four or five days after contagion.
- It wasn’t so much the itching (which can be tuned out) as the swelling which turned out to be the major issue.
- Once the rash emerged in ernest on the fourth/fifth day, it spread quickly both downwards to my feet and upwards to my chest and neck. This was despite the fact that I cleaned my socks, shorts and shirt regularly.
- My decision to let it “run its course” and delay medical attention was made out of stoicism and stubborness (goes back to my Irish convict heritage), rather than objectivitiy. My advice to fellow hikers who are exposed in a big way to Poodle Bush, is to get themselves to a doctor sooner rather than later and knock it on its head before it has a chance to really spread.