Did I just say "steps?" Wasn't I the one who thought that once we passed the saddle we wouldn't have many more steps to do?
I was really surprised at all the live cholla up there. After the drought and record cold of 2011 they all appeared dead. Now there are lots of baby ones, but also lots of larger ones. They couldn't have grown that fast, which means many that appeared dead came back to life. Incredible! An example is that one in the above photo. If you enlarge it you can see dead stalks on it, but most of it is alive. There are a lot of completely dead ones too, but it's wonderful to see so many green ones.
In my great wisdom, I carried a folding chair up so I would have a comfortable resting spot. I wasn't able to use it because there wasn't a large or level enough spot to set it. In this photo you can't tell but the front closest leg is 2 inches off the ground. And steep incline below...
Next photo is that incline. Just visualize, if you can, what it would be like traversing that slope minus that trail. It was always a grueling climb to get to the oaks. And we're putting the trail in the easiest access route we can find. The arrow is above where the saddle is, but not visible on this photo. To the right of the arrow you can just see the tip of the knob that creates the saddle.
I saw several female Lucifer Hummingbirds today but didn't have the stamina to clamber up and down the slopes looking for nests. Strangely, downslope I saw a Lucifer appearing to forage on the ocotillos, which seem to be way past their nectar life.
Maybe she was looking for insects. That doesn't seem likely, but then, neither does it seem possible that any nectar is on those dry old blooms. And finally, this is the view looking up from where we were working on the trail.
Back at the oasis, hummingbirds were swarming and birders said they saw females gathering nesting material, so I'm not giving up on finding a nest.
You can see from this photo, taken way back by my house right before dark this evening, that after the saddle the trail needs to gain a lot of elevation.