My first glimpse of the existing 6-foot high metal border wall. The chicken- and barbed-wire fence in the foreground may be the previous border wall or may be related to local ranching. Built in 1989 from surplus helicopter landing pads, the metal border wall was erected after San Diego Border Patrol Agents apprehended 629,656 people trying to cross the border illegally in 1986.
View of California from the border wall.
This is where it all begins for north-bound (NOBO) PCT hikers, at the Mexico-California border. While the elevation is still the same (2,915 ft.), the length of the trail is now longer than 2,650 miles due to trail re-routing but no one seems to agree on the new mileage (I've heard 2,652 and 2.659 miles). I was excited to finally see this part of the trail after having hiked over 400-miles of it further north.
It was fun to encounter these signs so early in the trail although if I were doing the entire trail, I'm not sure I would find them very encouraging. The temperatures reached 96 degrees and I was happy to have my reflective trekking umbrella with me - it makes the air feel at least 10 degrees cooler.
Four miles into our trip we encountered the last water for the next 16 miles. We stopped to tank up on 4 liters each and soak our feet. Much of the creek was surrounded by poison oak (not shown in this photo) and after watching several backpackers from other states and countries arrive at the creek and set down their packs right in the poison oak, we held an impromptu lesson in how to identify and avoid poison oak.
Although Southern California received below average rain this past year, the desert was still remarkably green and we were amazed to see this meadow below us.
It was even more surprising to encounter so many wildflowers in bloom. This is just a small sampling of the variety we saw.
Unbeknowst to me, Rob took this photo of me taking this photo of this incredible yucca bloom. It's true - all these photos were shot with my iPhone.
We found this great campsite nestled in granite slabs with an expansive view of the desert and then this sunset happened. It brought up mixed emotions of feeling so lucky to have such a beautiful experience in this desert while others are risking their lives in this same desert fleeing violence and corruption in the hopes of finding a better life.
We encountered this warning sign to travelers in Spanish about 16 miles into our journey, where the PCT splits off of a dirt road. It's hard to read through the graffiti but it says: Be careful! Don't expose your life to the elements. Not worth it!
We watched this formation of helicopters fly by as we climbed up the ridge out of the valley below. We weren't sure if they were National Guard or regular Border Patrol helos but it was the first time we saw so many flying together.
We survived rattlesnakes in the middle of the trail, bee stings, avoided poison oak, and didn't get picked up by the Border Patrol - all in all a successful trip. Thanks for scrolling through to the end!