My usual backpacking preference is going solo. I’m not anti-social; it just works out better. It is easy for me to just take off alone. No advance planning, no comparing schedules with hiking partners, no discussion of potential destinations.
Having said the above, there are three people who I have hiked with a few times over the past several years. Each of them is a great hiking partner and every trip with them has been excellent. It had been almost 3 years since I had gone backpacking with Ojas, longer than the other two partners, so it was time for another adventure. Our last trip had been a cold one with lots of snow. So with temperatures forecasted in the high 70’s and lows in the high 40’s (F), Anza Borrego State Park was a perfect destination.
Another ingredient in formulating the trip plan was go to mostly cross-country. This would be “new” for Ojas. We brought one map, just for the most difficult section to navigate. And of course we left all GPS receivers at home. We would hike an area I am familiar with, but as I told Ojas ahead of time, it is an area that is easy to get confused in, and I would probably get confused at some point, but not lost. And that did happen.
We walked through canyons, along washes, and crawled over boulder fields.
Much time was spent climbing up slopes, up hills, up mountain sides, over ridges, and then down. Over and over.
Even the flat portions were often a gauntlet.
Night camp set-up was quick and easy for me on this trip. No shelter. The night sky was phenomenal and I enjoyed several hours of star gazing while lying on my back.
Above: I emptied contents of my pack at the head of my bed. I brought a gas canister stove with a 1.5L pot as the community cooking center for the trip.
Ojas decided to use this trip to practice setting up his new tent. I think it is a Big Agnes Fly Creek 1.
He did such a good job with the tent; I surprised him with a liter of wine.
Given that we picked a 3-day weekend (Martin Luther King’s Birthday) to go backpacking, we risked the possibility of seeing other hikers in the backcountry. I am happy to report we saw no one, until we got on a road that was close to my SUV, something I expected. So the trip was an absolute success. Great company, great scenery, and complete solitude.