The wildlife and foliage along the Pacific Crest Trail is quite diverse (even through the 700 miles of desert).
Unfortunately, like some of the animals along the PCT (bears, rattlers, and mountain lions), some of the PCT’s plants are also to be avoided.
Namely, the poodle dog bush.
Now I was unaware of the existence of said poodle dog bush until I began my PCT Preparations, but after yesterday’s hike, I can personally vouch for the plant’s existence.
The appearance, and even the smell of poodle dog, can be described in many of the same ways that one would describe the cannabis plant (however, the same PCT marijuana hazard advisory does not apply here). If smoked, poodle dog will send you to the hospital (as it did to a (probably very excited) hiker last year). If you even come into contact with poodle dog (that means touching), it is foretold that you will be stricken with an itchy rash similar to the one caused by poison oak.
Fortunately for PCT hikers, poodle dog can be found growing abundantly along multiple stretches of the trail (as in right next to the trail, hanging into the trail, and many times with no clear passable alternative route).
You can smell it’s dankness from quite a distance, and had I not been warned of it beforehand, I very well may have believed it to be marijuana (although poodle dog would not be a bad name for a strain).
I was with two other hikers immediately preceding a known poodle dog patch, and having never seen it before, we assumed every cannabis-looking plant (aka every plant in the desert) to be the poodle dog. We foolishly and carefully stepped our way passed benign plants until we finally encountered the real thing.
When we finally did happen some bona-fide poodle dog, there was no mistaking it. Long stalks, thin clustered leaves, flowering buds, and that smell, did I mention the smell?
Hopefully, I never have to experience the wrath of the poodle dog firsthand, but my sleeping pad definitely touched some today while I was attempting to squeeze myself past an overgrown patch. I suppose I will soon be finding out how well the plant’s oil holds up to alcohol swabbing (depending on the rash’s gestation period).
So be careful out there friends, the poodle dog is waiting.