This hitch WildCorps headed back south towards El Centro. Our task was to explore the canyons in the wilderness surrounding the Anza Borrego State Park to monitor for invasive tamarisk plants. After a majority of back country campsites over the past few hitches WildCorps switched things up and settled down into the relative lap of luxury in a campsite within the state park. We were supplied with a stone picnic table, a large pagoda perfect for chin up contests and a vault toilet right around the corner. With all indications pointing to 10 days of flawless weather we decided to forgo the setup of our tents and cook and sleep in the open air.
Our proximity to the border provided us with the unique opportunity to be introduced to the local border patrol agents. They were kind enough to give us a firsthand insight into what they do and take us on a tour through their various patrol routes and the city of Calexico.
The scenery in the Jacumba, Carrizo Gorge and Coyote Mountains wilderness areas did not disappoint. We were treated to panoramic views of the Anza Borrego badlands, crazy mountain top caves carved by the wind filled with shells that once littered the ocean floor, lush green canyons, running streams and underground water falls. This time however, the scenery held a bit more of a challenge for us. Nature threw us a few curveballs in the form of cholla cactus attacks, bee swarm encounters, non-swarm related bee stings and heavy winds. Being WildCorps we took it in stride (sometimes literally) and after a few mad dashes to safety, needle removal hiking breaks, and the liberal use of antiseptic wound cleanser we carried on looking for and recording the presence of tamarisk for future removal.
We were also treated to the sight of a few elusive bighorn sheep as well as our first desert tortoise sighting! Being careful not to crowd her, we gave the tortoise a well-deserved photo shoot to record our sighting. Next up we’ll see what Needles has in store for us!