Dec. 8: Oak Shores Malt Shop

I slept in a little bit, spent a little time on the phone finishing up a podcast out loud while packing in the tent. I paused it when I heard two women walking by talking about tequila mixed drinks. I was closer to the trail than I thought, though they gave no sign of noticing my tent when passing, low as it was behind some bushes.

Anyway, easy bit of trail down into Morena Village, arriving just before the kitchen opened for breakfast at 9am. A nice breakfast sandwich and a couple of experimental root beers set me on the right foot for the day. Then it was back down to the county park to begin climbing the ridge out of town. I made it to the top of the hill and stopped for a while before realizing that the county park was the last source of water before the border. I left my pack in the way off-trail nook I had been sitting in and walked the mile back down to the park with my water bag, filled it, and climbed it again. It was well past 11am by the time I got back to my pack, and I had just added an hour to the day’s finish time.

The trail worked its way over the tops of some hills then dropped into a deep canyon. On the other side of the road at the bottom, the steep switchbacked climb up onto the next ridge was so overgrown, I had to choose which knee I wanted to get scraped by the shrubs every third step at the least. Eventually, the trail emerged onto a road cut into the side of the hill and followed it up for more than half a mile before turning off to climb back up to the top of the ridge in the opposite direction.

I stopped right there for lunch. Then I noticed the ants swarming over my shoes and the pack, stood up, furiously brushed away and picked off dozens of individual ants, and moved further up the trail to find another relatively wind-protected spot to sit. Just then an ant bit me on my butt. I reached into my shorts to pinch the little jerk to death and toss it aside. But lunch was fine. The usual.

The wind was so powerful and consistent coming over the other the top of this ridge that I could see a bird holding exactly in one place like a drone without flapping it wings or visibly adjusting.

Nothing much to be said for the rest of the afternoon. The chapparal in the hills looked the same as it had in previous days. The city light from the other side of the border made it plain as day once the sun had set. I stopped at the last campsite before Campo, a field tucked behind a berm near the railroad tracks, and set up my tent for the last time, using the trick of securing it with small forked twigs stuck in the ends of the trekking poles to make up for the fact that their tips were completely gone—a trick I had discovered the previous night and would never again have any use for. I used up the last dinner in my can and reported in. Mama was staying in Mt. Laguna. SDG&E had turned off the power there again for the winds.

I went to sleep on the trail for the last time in 2020.

Total distance: 17 miles

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