Mile 61.5 to 81.5
Up/down: 2600/4500 feet
Note: I went back and changed the days for the hike so that our original start date of April 6 is day 1 and today is day 4. The afternoon we walked two miles from the border is now day 0. My tired and feeble brain was struggling with this extra day so I got rid of it.
Starting so far south this early in spring allows us to have weeks of following spring. We saw a perfect example of that today as we traversed a ridge before our final descent out of the Laguna Mountains. The wind was brisk and migrant birds were struggling to make their way north - right at our eye level. Most of these hundreds of birds will have to go unidentifiable, but we did see lots of Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warlers, one each Wilson's and Townsend's Warbler, lots of swallows including the bird of the day: a flock of 13 Purple Martins. We are low over 100 species for the trip. We should be chasing spring bird migration all the way to the Sierra. How cool is that?
We dropped off the ridge late morning all the way down to the desert at 2500 feet elevation crossing the San Filipe Valley and Hwy 79 about 13 miles west of the town of Julian. Our fourth day of trail magic came at the Scissors Crossing where some locals had a water cache set up to fill us up. This saved an off trail expedition to the barely flowing San Filipe Creek. Awesome.
It was still early afternoon and camping was limited and unappealing at the road so we headed further up the trail. And up it was, climbing steadily in a gorgeous Sonoran desert habitat of cactus and ocotillo. Lots of migrating Swainson's Hawks passed overhead as we walked. While it didn't rain today (yet and hooray!), the next storm isn't far off. The exposed ridge we were walking looked really dodgy in bad weather so we continued until reaching a relatively safe saddle in the mountains. We're camped at 3300 feet out of flash flood danger. From the Scissors Crossing water cache to next water is 14 miles and then 10 more to the next at Barrel Spring. Thankfully it's still cool so we didn't have to max out our water carry climbing up.