Thursday, April 10, 2008

PCT: Desert in Bloom

Dear all-

Though there is little water in the desert, there appear to be computers! Reason (aka Todd) and I are currently in Warner Springs, CA. We've just hiked about 110 miles, so only 2555 to go!
I just spent an hour sitting in the pool heated with natural sulfur springs. Though my Canada-bound mind thinks this is cheating, my husband and feet beg to differ. Reason repeatedly reminds me that all professional athletes take at least one scheduled day of rest every week.

We have just hiked through the San Felipe Hills, which border the Anza-Borrego Desert Park. The desert is in bloom, and we could barely make our miles for the many photos we took of the hundreds of blooming flowers. Even the barrel cactus and prickly-pears are blooming. The yuccas have huge white and/or pink plumes, and the agave are just budding with giant central stalks that look quite a bit like asparagus.

Our last section was virtually waterless. However, generous souls known as Trail Angels have hiked scores of gallon bottles of water to two strategic positions along the trail, and this has helped keep us hydrated. We are now in the habit of carrying at least five liters of water at any given time. For you civilians, a liter of water weighs two pounds.

We actually started our first day from the Mexican border with nine liters each! This was a bit too much, but we were not sure exactly what we were in for. It turned out that there was no water from mile five to about mile twenty.

The Mexican border was quite something. Physically, it is a huge metal fence paralleled by a dirt road and another barbed wire fence. The surrounding land is strewn with the detritus of immigrants: drink bottles and food wrappers, discarded clothing and backpacks, and small pieces of woven Mexican blankets which we discovered are used as booties to disguise footprints. Border Patrol guards, trucks, and helicopters are everywhere. Reason and I did not see any immigrants on the trail, but our fellow hikers did. In the town of Campo, 1.4 miles north of the border on the trail, we passed a holding cell full of immigrants being loaded onto a bus - I assume bound for deportation. I made eye contact with one person before realizing what was going on. I then thought quite a bit about the contrast between the indulgent romp I am on and the ordeals of the people in that cell. We saw a number of men being arrested by Border Patrol on our third day, and continued to see evidence of immigrants for over forty miles. I can only say that our first forty miles were not that easy, and that we had relative leisure, plenty of water, sun protection, and warm sleeping bags for the below freezing nights.

So, on towards Canada tomorrow. Our best to all,


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