The trail consisted of several inches of sand which seems to absorb my momentum and energy, and it climbed swiftly up the hill and into the burn zone. In Southern California one of the first plants to return after a wildfire is called Poodle Dog Brush, and although the name sounds cute, hikers despise the plant. Poodle Dog Brush causes skin irritations and even respiratory distress in bad cases, it omits a skunk like aroma, and it can grow up to nine feet high. As I entered the Station Fire burn area I quickly realized nothing in the burn would provide shade from the afternoon sun, and the high wind gusts provided little relief from the heat. In fact, it created a strong head wind and the Poodle Dog Bush swayed back and forth into the trail.
The toxic bushes, sun, wind, and sand combined to create a difficult afternoon, but as I looked across the desert valley below I realized the beautiful moments on trail shine through the moments of suffering. In that moment the difficulties seemed to dissolve as I absorbed the big picture of the journey.