Monday, April 25, 2016

April 8, 2016 Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail

We got up early today and headed to the Borrego Palm Canyon Trailhead for two reasons. One...we wanted to beat the crowds since this is the most popular hike in the area. Two...this trip was planned so we could spend time with my family. So after spending three days in the desert we have to get back to the coast because tonight we have dinner plans with my parents, my brothers and sister-in-law.

Every trailhead out here has multiple safety warnings. Of course we were a bit worried about entering a canyon with storm clouds over the mountains...but this is our last chance to hike this trail and we are hoping to see the young Bighorn Sheep that have been spotted here the past few days.

The rumors must be true.

Yes, I know! Rattlesnakes live in the area.

I figured with baby sheep in the area there is probably a good chance to see a mountain lion too. Dark clouds rolling down the mountains ahead of us...

...and dark clouds in the desert behind us. 

I gave Chrissy the choice of turning around for safety reasons and driving back now so we could spend more time with my family. She said she would take her chances with the flash floods, rattlesnakes and mountain lions. 

Right away she found these footprints in the sand...

and followed them into a wash where they disappeared. The footprints were probably from a coyote but we hoped it was a mountain lion.

These two were the only other hikers we saw on the trail early in the morning. They look like they ignored the "must carry at least a gallon of water " warning.

The first part of the hike into the canyon was mostly rocks and palm tree trunks washed down from flash floods. And the occasional ocotillo plant.

Once we hiked a bit up the canyon we started seeing more colorful plants...

...and the local residents.

The hike continued up the canyon and further in the mountains.

There were some big rocks that tumbled to the bottom of the canyon.

This dry wash is home to lots of critters.

Does the early bird get the worm? Not so sure out here. It was pretty dry up to this point.

But once we spotted the palm oasis, we also started seeing water flowing down the canyon.

It suddenly became a little tougher to find the trail...

...which made this hike much more fun as we crossed the stream a few times and climbed over and around the rocks.

The scenery also improved immensely. I found time to relax on the rocks and enjoy the solitude and beauty of my surroundings. 

I also took pictures. Lots of pictures.

California fan palms.

Chrissy kept finding a way to get closer to the large group of palms.

We hiked around this area for a bit before we headed back down the canyon. As you can see we got lucky as blue sky and sunshine broke through the clouds.

There were lots of palm tree trunks from a flash flood about a decade ago that destroyed sixty percent of the palm trees in the canyon.

Hiking back we met a few hikers. We all had the same question, "Have you seen any bighorn sheep?" The answer was always "No."

I love the sky in this shot. We've been in the desert for three days and this was the brightest sky we saw the whole time.

We headed back to the coast and enjoyed dinner with my family at La Cave. Then on Saturday we saw my parents favorite local band, Mid-Life Crisis who were very good. On Sunday we celebrated my Aunt Pat & Uncle Ed's 60th anniversary with my cousins which was my favorite day of this trip. 
On Monday we spent time with Mrs. Delgado who has been like another mother to me for years. Then we visited with Chrissy's Aunt Marilyn and cousins Carson and Liz at their beautiful new home.
Another perfect trip for us.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

April 7, 2016 Hiking in Anza-Borrego and Agua Caliente

We stayed in Borrego Springs at the Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort. This place has an Old West look with the rooms in buildings that look like businesses or the local jail. I was upset that our room was in a building that had no fake store fronts on it. Yes I sound like a five year old but I love old school kitschy places.
I would still recommend this place if you decide to visit Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
This might be a hedgehog cactus...
...but that is definitely rain on the flower. As we drove south on Highway S2 to our first hike, the rain was falling steadily.
We stopped at Box Canyon to stretch our legs and read this historical marker about the Southern Emigrant Trail that ran through Box Canyon. This trail was used by the pioneers that entered southern California in the 1800's.

We walked around taking pictures of this scenic area.

This might be some kind of cholla.

This area was the most colorful desert area we've seen so far.

There was a mix of dark clouds and the sun trying to break through as we began our hike at Mountain Palm Springs.

The first set of California Fan Palms are visible as soon as you enter the canyon.

I have no idea why Christy took a picture of this cactus.

This hike is in the Tierra Blanca Mountains.

We hiked up into the canyon past several groups of palms.

The Pygmy Grove

Here we are approaching the Southwest Grove.

The Southwest Grove is the largest on this hike. It has about one hundred palms.

Chrissy took pictures of the plants that miraculously found a way to grow in the desert...

...or a cactus growing right out of a rock...

...and the remains of something that did not survive out here. 
While I hiked further up a trail toward Torote Bowl for a different view of the area.

Looking back toward Bow Willow campground...

...and down at the Southwest Grove.
Christy hiking back along the ridge trail while I hiked back down the wash.

After this hike, we drove to a San Diego County Park called...

...Agua Caliente to hike the Moonlight Canyon Trail.

Well, this is interesting. We've seen plenty of warnings over the years about the dangerous animals we might encounter on the trails but never a photograph of one caught on a camera trap.

This is a fine way to introduce this trail to potential hikers... the way if you aren't afraid of running into a mountain lion, there are rattlesnakes too.
Of course we decided to risk our lives and hiked up into the canyon. We know enough about hiking in these situations to realize if we make noise most animals will retreat undetected by us. So I decided to repeatedly yell, "Here kitty kitty!".

This is a loop hike trail that heads up the canyon then u-turns down the canyon on the other side of the mountain. 

There were a bunch of flowering cacti along the way.

This Teddy Bear Cholla has the amazing ability to drop off segments that will then take root and grow into another cactus. 

That is why it is also known as the Jumping Cholla.

It rained on this hike. But we never got wet. Raindrops fell from the sky but most dried up before reaching the ground. This happened all day long.

As we headed down the canyon on the other side we left the desert looking area...

...and entered a more colorful area with more leafy scrub bushes.

There were more huge rocks on this side too.

Then we enter a lush jungle like area with water running down the canyon.

This was another interesting hike that showed us how different the desert can look with just a little water.

The hike ended about a quarter mile from the start. So I enjoyed an apple and an orange at this lone picnic table in the desert before heading back to the car.

An ocotillo in full bloom. These were growing everywhere on this last section of our hike. Many were over ten feet high.

The trail marker at the end of our hike. If you started your hike here, you would not know about the mountain lions and rattlesnakes.

We drove along the dirt roads in Blair Valley looking for the Butterfield Overland Mail Route historical marker. We had just about given up when we finally found it. I am so glad we did because this short hike provided amazing views and insight into how hard it was cross this area before roads existed. This hike is known as the Foot and Walker Pass.

It is a short hike up to the pass which gives you miles long views into valleys on both sides.

There were flowers everywhere in this area.

This rock has many different cacti growing out of it.

This selfie wasn't taken with my phone. It was taken with my SLR camera. I was pretty proud of myself because I got this shot on my first try.

Like I said before, this short hike was incredible.

We kept calling this a yucca...sometimes mother yuccas. We were wrong. This is a desert agave. That flowering stem grows to ten feet high.

We ended our day back in Borrego Springs searching out more of the desert sculptures known as the Sky Art Metal Sculptures. You can read more about these at . Ricardo Breceda is the artist and you can read more about him at

This is a Gomphothere

There are sculptures inspired by fossil treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert...

...and some inspired by the history and nature of this area... the farm workers.

The Scorpion and Grasshoppers

Harlan's Ground Sloth

1946 Willys Jeep

Spanish Padre

Indian Head

Giant Tortoise

Gracile Sabertooth Cat

Gold Miner and Mule

Peninsular Bighorn Sheep

The Serpent
Another wonderful day in the desert. The solitude really increases my enjoyment of the time I spend hiking out here. It might seem like a barren wasteland out here. It is not. If you take the time to walk around in the desert, I think you will experience an amazing and beautiful place.