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The charming town of Julian, and Borrego Springs, CA

It is a wonderful feeling to be in the presence of Nikki and Barb again. The more I get to know them, the more I love them.

I enjoy touring their new community and checking it out. Although I am not ready to settle down right now, it is a good option to consider. 

The nights are still freezing and challenging for me, however, the days are beautiful and sunny here in California.

I know Borrego Springs is in full bloom this year, and I am only an hour away. It is a quick and easy decision to make.

As I left, I received a phone call from Susan. She had just returned to the US from a three-month stay in Baja (Mexico), and now we can finally connect. It is so wonderful to hear her voice. Our friendship is now a year old. We are keeping in touch, which can sometimes be tricky as we both constantly travel.

She reminded me of the beautiful town of Julian, which is on my way. I quickly adjusted my route, and off I went.

I love this part of South California. My landscape movie today is stunning! How can you not melt from this view of rolling green mountains covered with yellow flower carpets, cows in the meadows and blue skies.

It's time to slow down. I am on a school zone road. What a fantastic blessing!

My eyes recognize a sign and in a split second, my mind spontaneously decides to turn around. I put on my hiking boots and my backpack and go for a hike on the PCT. The simple joy in my heart right now is pure.

I laugh at how often I get scared by the bunnies jumping just in front of my feet. I feel bad interfering with their space and peace. Two miles into my hike, I find myself hiking behind a thru-hiker on his way to Canada. Eric, or as he is known on the trail, "Enigma," and I had a conversation about backpacking and being a minimalist in life as a choice. Eric has many more miles to go, and I believe he will make it.

I say goodbye and wish Eric a safe and joyful journey. As I hike back to my car, I encounter two hikers approaching. Jen (trail name "Toasty") is carrying a big backpack that takes most of my view, but her wide, happy smile is what gets my attention. Jen is a thru-hiker. Her husband Alonso is joining her for the day. It is beautiful to hear and see the pride in his wife. 

Jen has already covered 100 miles. Her goal is to go as far as she can. I have faith in Jen, and I know she will go further than she can imagine. I will not be surprised if she reaches Canada. You go, Jen! You can absolutely do it.  

As I am getting closer to the end of my hike, I see a cow standing in the middle of my path. Alright, it's time to go around. Honestly, I don't know what to do if she opposes sharing the path. She stares at me with her big eyes, so I smile and hope she can feel the love and energy I am sending her way. A few more steps, and I find myself among a herd, resting on the lush green grass, enjoying the sun's warmth.

At midday, I arrived in the charming town of Julian, which is known as "as American as apple pie." After my five-mile hike, I convinced myself I earned a slice of apple pie. I stopped at Julian Pie Company and got a natural, no-sugar-added apple pie slice. Oh wow, that is heavenly, tasty, sweet, and delicious! Of course, I get a whole pie (the original) to share with NikkI and Barb.

I stroll in the main street, but all I can think about is how much I enjoyed that slice of apple pie. Well, what happened next surprised me. I am heading back to get another slice of pie. Hell, why not! :)

I couldn't ask for a better landscape movie while driving to Borrego Spring. The winding road from Julian to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park goes from green mountains with many trees to brown mountains, standing naked with their beauty, showing off all their veins and wrinkles.

It's hard to believe that I am standing in the middle of a desert. The brown mountains around me disappeared as the colors of the flowers on Anderson Canyon Road entered my view. Yellow, pink, and white flowers cover the ground, making many caterpillars happy. This year's bloom exceeded last year's, and I am glad I am here!

I realized I missed some of the metal sculptures in Borrego Springs on my visit last year. There is nothing better than the present time to go and find them. 

Their location helped me find my camping spot for the night on a BLM. It is a warm evening, and I am glad to be able to cook dinner and sit outside while watching the day come to an end.

It is glorious to wake up and witness the slow rise of the sun. This morning's sunrise is absolutely stunning. My photo lacks so much of the beauty I am blessed with.

Before returning to spend more time with Nikki and Barb, I want to take my time and hike Borrego Palm Canyon. Last year, I had very little time and literally ran the trail. 

The rain that flooded California in the past few months has given life to this desert area. Everything is alive and happy. Hummingbirds are zooming around the Ocotillo cactus, enjoying its orange flowers. Bees are so loud that it feels like they are all inside my ears.

I take the main trail up to the oasis and plan to hike down on the alternative trail. As I climb up, I hear a stream flowing nearby, so I go off the trail to check it out. For a while, it feels like I have found a secret garden with a small waterfall. I can't resist, so I take off my boots to enjoy the freezing water numbing my feet. After jumping in a glacier water back in July in Whistler, Canada, I am hooked. It is incredible how alive it makes you feel. 

The hike is only about three and a half miles long, which should take me about two hours, but I am here to take my time. After four hours, I get back to my car to be greeted by the Desert Bighorn up the hill. What a lovely way to finish a hike.

I stay with Nikki and Barb for a few days more. I catch up on my writing and focus on my Canadian destinations.

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