Day 4: Agua Caliente County Park

June Wash to Agua Caliente County Park
(5 miles, +300/-800 feet).

I did not sleep well at all last night. I was always either too hot or too cold. I guess that’s what happens when you bring a 20 degree bag to a night with a low of only 50 degrees! I also think I was a little water-deprived. Quercus and I were both down to just half a liter each, and the lack of water might have thrown off my body’s thermostat a bit.

But the plus side of not sleeping was the fireworks show. The Quadrantids were fully as lovely as the Perseid meteor showers I have seen over the years. For about an hour I laid on my sleeping pad half outside my tent so I could get a full view of the sky. It was spectacular.

The winter dawn came late as usual, and by the time I exited my tent Quercus was already packed and ready to make the five mile trip to agua!

Winter dawn
June Wash
Barrel cacti

The morning light was spectacular as always.

Ocotillo sunrise
Alpenglow and Quercusglow

We had to exit June Wash after about a mile to walk down an unnamed wash to the west. The traverse between washes was especially tricky because it passed through one of the densest cholla cactus gardens I have ever seen. In fact, Quercus was attacked by a jumping cholla and needed emergency trekking pole surgery. But it was fine — we extricated it and continued on our way.

The assailants

But it wasn’t long before we were in the new wash.

Unnamed wash

Another mile would bring us to our right turn past a ridge.

End of the line

Then up and over and we could see our target

Agua Caliente!
Getting closer
Almost there!

The timing was perfect. Our reserved campsite was still available and the indoor pool was just opening, so we dropped our things, made snacks from the last of our food, and hit the hot springs.

Tasty leftovers

The hike from the Salton Sea to Agua Caliente took longer than I thought it would, and I realized the whole trip was planned too aggressively (I have a tendency to do that). So I don’t think I will have time to make it to the end before my wife’s birthday.

Instead, I will head home today with Quercus (thanks Tami!) and try again in a couple of weeks, this time following the conventional SDTCT route that starts from Salton City.

Wish me luck!

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