March 28, 2018
To leave the town of Julian, we stood in front of the post office, sticking out hopeful thumbs. A man in a truck pulled over just to assure us that we were in the right place, and he was certain we’d get a ride soon! Sure enough, Isa with her young son offered a ride down the mountain to Scissors Crossing. “We like hearing the hiker stories,” she explained.
As we stepped onto the PCT again, I felt we had crossed a portal. It was as if the visible rift of Earthquake Valley extended into the air, making an invisible barrier that moisture couldn’t breach. Bushes became skeletal sticks. Barrel cactus wore crowns of yellow buds. Ocotillo sported flame red blooms on their tips. Cholla masqueraded as fuzzy friends, only showing their spiny nature when examined closely. Prickly pear gave hints of red fruits on its edges. We even saw a couple of Joshua trees. Cactus reigned supreme between rocks and sand!
We hiked under sapphire blue sky, climbing into the San Felipe Hills. The trail contoured around ridges, above the edges of draws, in and out, back and forth. As we gained altitude, bushes and other flowers gradually returned. I knew I would be seeing more desert soon, but for now I was content with my morning in “true” desert!