Today was about yellow and struggling.
We rose before dawn, so I could take pictures of the sunrise and we could get an early start on the sunny descent down.
We were still running more or less parallel to the Sunrise Highway in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Our descent continued to offer great views down into Oriflamme Canyon and across to Oriflamme Mountain. Sadly these views were largely ignored due to the overgrowth of desert flora. Our early morning walk was filled with a constant assault on our legs by the fiercest and pointiest plants of the desert. At least our legs were only somewhat sunburned, so the soft parts of the plants only caused shooting pains.
We made it through with minimal blood loss. Apricots and I took breakfast three miles down at a trail junction. We had only been walking for a little over an hour, but her boots were wearing on her ankles, and the uneven rocky surface was getting under her nerves. She had poor sleep last night so the boots added to her difficulties.
I encouraged her along, and we slowly descended the rocky terrain. Soon, the landscape opened up in brilliant displays of wildflowers. We counted at least six species of yellow flowers. The most predominant was a particular variety that grows several feet high and has many large yellow buds. As we made our steep drop into Rodriguez Canyon (an area frequented by prospectors), we were enveloped by these plants. We paused a moment to watch several large birds (maybe turkey vultures) glide on the wind 10 feet away from us.
At the bottom, we made a short steep climb out of the canyon onto the flanks of Chariot Mountain. By this time, Apricots was ready to be done with the day. I motivated her with promises of a potential shower four miles down the trail.
Pie Town Gear, in Julien, set up a pseudo-hiker store in the middle of the desert. From 1.5 miles away you could see several tents and a car parked next to a large water tank. When we arrived, Wayne offered us seats, solar heated water for showers, wash basins for our clothing, and a store packed with thru-hiker delights: beer, gatorade, snickers, energy drinks, fruit juice, etc.
After a surreal shower in the middle of the desert Apricots and I lounged in the shade, waiting for the heat to drop. We chatted with a few other hikers before leaving this desert oasis.
We made the descent down Granite mountain, a long rough drop, that can only be described as irritating. The entire descent offers views across the valley floor to the San Felipe hills, tomorrows climb. Sadly, due to politics and stubborn land owners, the trail is forced to take a more lengthy route over a dryer hotter mountain.
Just after sunset, we reached the bottom, and set up camp on the valley floor. My feet were exhausted, and Apricots was more than ready to get out of her boots.
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