As we approached Boulder Oaks Campground, the terrain transitioned from arid, chapperal and cactus covered hills to oak-lined, flower-filled fields littered with lupines, paintbrush, and tiny, delicate flowers in all shades of purple, yellow, and white. When we arrived at the campground my parents were waiting with cold drinks, crisp Ambrosia apples, and crunchy, salty Fritos corn chips.
We made slow progress in the afternoon, and at 5:00 we found ourselves on the side of a ridge, miles away from Long Canyon, the nearest source of water and camping. But with no alternatives, we pressed on, arriving just as the sun was slipping behind the ridge.
My brother had cut a sheet of Tyvek for us to use as a ground cloth. Sierra was delighted to discover that her cousins had decorated it with pictures and messages wishing her good luck on the trail. My favorite picture was of a mother and daughter blazing down the trail under the light of a crescent moon and a star-filled sky. It seemed appropriate somehow, as we sat identifying Orion, the Big Dipper, and several other constellations while we ate our dinner.