14 April 2022
Lake Cuyamaca to Stagecoach Trails RV Resort
(20 miles, +800/-3,100 feet).
It wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be last night, and I slept okay in my tent by the lake. I woke up in time to eat my cold-soaked oatmeal and pack up before sunrise. The first part of the morning was really pretty as I rounded the lake and then headed across grassy meadows towards the desert.
Past the bridge I left the trail and made my way around the edge of a marsh. I mostly kept my feet dry except one place where I had to jump from a muddy flat over a stream to another muddy flat.
Soon I was back on trail at the Pedro Fages trailhead.
The California Riding and Hiking Trail converges with the PCT for a short bit before descending into Chariot Canyon.
The trail got steeper as it exited Chariot Canyon and then dropped into Oriflamme Canyon, following a rocky Jeep road. It was a great place to look for flowers because there were several distinct micro-climates on the way down.
I also got excited when I saw my first horned lizard. I belong to a group on iNaturalist that specially tracks these observations. Alas, this one had been flattened, probably by a Jeep.
And I found my favorite flower of the day right in the middle of the jeep road.
The jeep road turned into a much-more-low-clearance-friendly two track road at the bottom of the canyon. The trail follows the road, but sometimes I veered off to look for flowers in parallel washes.
Th California Riding and Hiking Trail crosses the S2 Highway and then heads up Box Canyon, which runs below the highway. It was hot, and the deep sand was not fun for hiking.
It was a relief to get out of Box Canyon and up on the flat expanse of Blair Valley.
I took my last break at Foot and Walker Pass and then veered off trail to follow a human-made bern towards Stagecoach Trail RV Resort. It was fun to be about 10 feet higher than the surrounding desert floor to catch the full cooling effect of the breeze and see all around for my last couple of miles.
The bus won’t come until tomorrow morning, and it’s hot and likely to be quite windy tonight, so I rented a cheap cabin at the RV Resort.
It was a nice day all in all, but I am glad to be done with my section hike of the SDTCT. Although the flowers were quite nice today, it was a lot of road walking today, and Box Canyon really did me in!