We woke to the tips and howls of a nearby pack of coyotes surrounding their prey. All too soon those nighttime sounds were replaced by the chirps, caws, clucks, coos, and chirrings, of countless wild turkeys, roosters, jays, morning doves, and many other species.
Although Campo is over 20 miles from Lake Morena by trail, it is only a short drive. We soon arrived at the border and, after the obligatory photos at the trail monument, we were on our way.
The trail gently climbs over rolling hills covered with burned chapperal, blooming century plants, several varieties of cacti, and a multitude of hardy spring flowers. The temperature also rose, but not nearly so gradually. It was HOT, and after spending the last months skiing, we were not prepared for instant summer.
As we hiked, we leapfrogged several other hikers, all of whom seemed to be suffering in the heat. We also spied several pieces of abandoned gear next to the trail: a gray hooded sweatshirt, hanging on a branch, a pair of heavy khaki dockers, a Thermarest Neoair mattress, a weathered journal with yellowing pages, a new pair of Black Diamond ski gloves, neatly placed on a rock, and a hat hooked over a fence post. We wondered about the stories behind each abandoned item. Had the owners, exhausted by the heat and overwhelmed by the weight of their packs just tossed them aside in frustration?
It was late afternoon when we reached Hauser Creek at mile 16, the only water source between Campo and Mt. Laguna. The "creek" was actually a stagnant pond, thick and murky with unidentified green, mossy plants growing in it. I stepped across in a single step, determined to continue to Lake Morena without stopping for water. But the climb to the lake was hot and steep, and my bottle was almost empty. I pulled out my filter and hoped for the best.
Fortunately, the water did not taste as disgusting as it looked. Refreshed by the water we made good time up the steep climb to the lake, where we enjoyed cold drinks, fresh food, and hot showers.