Total Miles: 77.5
Little known fact: it does, in fact, rain in Southern California. In what can only be described as hypothermia on a silver platter, the first half of our day was spent managing the 40ish degree temperature, rain, and wind while making our way down towards the Anza-Borrego desert. Not surprisingly, we stopped only for 10 minutes in the first 9 miles of the day. A tiny bit of trail magic in the form of a tarp set up by Beardoh and Sweet Pea seemed to signal a turn in the tide. Spending 10 minutes out of the weather, adding layers and laughing with friends was a prelude to an afternoon that was as mercifully benign as the morning had been merciless. The entire arc of the day, combined with the shared experience of other hikers pretty well encapsulates life on the trail.
The rains abated for the latter 9 miles, we found ourselves down in the floor of the desert, and just as we had cursed the morning storm we now realized the silver lining—crossing this place on any other day could be brutally hot.
Once across the San Felipe Valley, we'd left behind a land of chaparral and entered a land of cacti. Up until now, we'd seen only the occasional flowering cactus scattered here and there, but now it seems they're everywhere, even a few small barrel cacti. Sharp things and gear do not work and play well with one another so we'll have to be extra careful about not only where to sit but where we put anything down. Sharpness aside, some of their blooms are spectacular—a little pop of color against an ever changing sky.
The dry winds of the afternoon meant we could dry everything that had been soaked by the morning rain once we made camp at the foot of the San Felipe Hills. That kind of opportunity is like a way of hitting the reset button. The miles have closed behind you, and the ills of the day have all been undone.
What better way to end a day like this than to gaze out of the tent and watch the chameleon sky change yet again.