Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The past couple of days couldn't have been lovelier. Borrego Springs is even prettier than I remember it with the beautiful blue skies and the Santa Rosa Mountains in the background.

This being California, there is plenty of citrus growing. The RV park where we've been staying has orange trees growing at every site.

If the environment weren't nice enough, there is always the company. We've had a wonderful time with our friends Tom and Deb. If you've been reading long enough, then you may remember we met up with them in Whistler last June where we hatched this trip. Here's Tom approaching two mornings ago. They purchased a used rig...vintage, some might say...and very nice. That's their rig to the left.

It has the coolest stained glass window on the door.

We have eaten good food, soaked in the park's mineral hot tubs, relaxed, hiked, and we have done a lot of laughing.

Monday morning we went into the little town of Borrego Springs. It barely qualifies as a wide spot in the road. We're here for the mineral hot tubs. We do have our priorities. 

(My ISO was set too high in that image above. That's why the colors are a little off. I had to bring it back from the dead.) You know I love signs that make no sense, so I included this one. Perhaps you can think of a way to use this post.

There was a reason for our trip into town yesterday. We picked up a hiking book for Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It's the largest state park in California, encompassing some 600,000 acres. I was betting there was some hiking to be done, and there is. We picked up a book, had some lunch, and then headed back to the RV park for the rest of the day. Yesterday morning, I tried this recipe for a Lemon Dutch Baby that I wanted to try out before we left home. It's a copycat recipe from Portland's Original Pancake House. It turned out great, and it was super simple. Simple enough to do in an little RV oven, so I'm not kidding. 

After that, we took off for about a half hour drive to hike. This is the book we were working from.

The book describes the hikes pretty well, but directions and distances are off by more than a little.

It was about a half hour's drive on Hwy 78 and S-2, and then another 20 minutes or so on a dirt road. With the recent rains, there were some pretty scary puddles to drive through, but our truck was able to do it easily. I wouldn't have wanted to be in a car with lower clearance. Along the way we saw a pair of nervous coyotes. They kept trotting away from us, and we kept following.

I could imagine we were bothering them, and that they were yelling back and forth, "What is up with these people? Why do they keep following us?"

Finally, the road came to an end, and we found the trailhead.

The trail book promised us a good look at some pictographs from the Kumeyaay tribe that still lives in the area, although the pictographs are approximately 200-300 years old. They were rendered with paints made from ground minerals that endure constant natural erosion from the elements (wind, sun, and rain). Here's the sign at the trailhead.

Beyond the pictographs we were told we would get an expansive view of the Vallecitos Valley. As we headed down the trail, I turned for one last look at civilization...primitive though it was.

There wasn't a lot of vegetation in this sun-parched area, but we did see a lot of yuccas and bloomed out stalks of century plants.

Also, Ocotillos and hunky men.

Two-thirds of the way out, we came across the huge boulder that displayed the pictographs.

The chain of diamonds is fairly typical of the pictographs in this area of the world.

I took a picture of this motley crew to give you some scale.

Mike and I planned our wardrobe choices poorly. It was warm enough to be out in short sleeves at the RV park, but the hike was at a higher elevation, and we were just barely warm enough as long as we kept moving and stayed in the sun. In fact, there was snow all along the trail in the shaded areas.

Tom used the opportunity to sun himself like a lizard on a flat rock. The sun was warm. The rock was cold.

True to its word, the hiking book informed us that if we continued on the trail after the pictographs, we would approach what appeared to be a ridge blocking the way, but that if we continued, we would find a split where we could pass through to see the valley below. We were walking in a wash, and the split is where the water falls to the valley 100-200 feet below.

There were a few other hikers out on the trail, and I took this picture of one of them for scale.

We kept going, and eventually, the split revealed itself.

And there it is...the Vallecitos Valley. You can see where the wash continues on below.

Deb and Mike climbed up on some rocks for a better view. I stayed below, trying to give my knee a break.

When we're out on these desert hikes, we almost always see crows, stalking us as we go. Yesterday was no different.

After that, it was turn around and head back the way we came. As we headed back, I took this opportunity to get a picture of the valley where Borrego Springs lies.

The kitties are doing a little better each day. We've been able to sleep most of the night for the last three nights. Prior to that, we were breaking up a cat fight every few hours. For now, Maggie is holding her own, and she's letting Smitty know that she'll pull his tail up around his ears if he isn't careful. This is their usual MO...Maggie hiding, or else being very bold...Smitty keeping an eagle eye on her at all times.

We're in the process of packing up and putting things away. We'll have some breakfast, and then we'll be heading off to Joshua Tree National Park for a couple of days of relaxation and hiking. The weather forecast is for sunny skies, and so we're looking forward to it.

As I said in an earlier post, it's doubtful that I'll have internet in the national park, but things are always changing. If I can get a cell signal, I can get internet. If not, then you won't hear from me for a day or two.

13 comments from clever and witty friends:

DeeDee said...

What great pictures and what a great post! I'm now convinced that when my husband retires we need to get an RV and do some traveling. Thanks for sharing!

Dogwood Lane Rambles said...

Our son and two eldest grandsons went to Anza-Borrego and Joshua Tree for a rock climbing expedition during the kids Christmas break from college so it's fun to see it through your eyes. Glad you're not trying any of that scary climbing stuff which requires ropes and rappelling.

QuiltShopGal said...

What fun. I've never been on that hike in Borrego, but definitely want to do it. Thanks. Have fun in Joshua Tree. Here is a link to some hiking info you may want to check out: http://deserttrailshiking.com/DTHCadmin/publicHikesByRegion.php Good friends are hike leaders with this group and they are open to non-members for a nominal donation. Always fun. http://deserttrailshiking.com/DTHCadmin/publicSchedule.php


gpc said...

What a lovely hike, I envy you! I loved the Joshua Tree park and wished I'd had more time there but my non-hiking family had other ideas. :)

Lyndsey said...

Looks fabulous. Thanks for sharing your photos.

Dana Gaffney said...

Beautiful pictures and I love the post with a post.

Angie in SoCal said...

Great post, Barbara. Anza is one of my favorite parks and so near to us. Joshua is another magnificent place. If you can go to Key's Ranch in Joshua if you have never been there. An amazing place.

WoolenSails said...

That is an amazing place to camp, gorgeous views and I loved going on your hike with you, you always get beautiful photos, just like being there. I hope you can get on, love seeing your travels.


Sherry said...

Enjoyed the excursion looking forward to the next stop.

Christine M said...

Great photos, Barbara. That first one is beautiful.

Kate said...

Beautiful country. Thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures. Glad that the kitties aren't keeping you up. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

quiltzyx said...

Ooooh, I do love seeing through your eyes/camera! My fave has to be Tom the Lizard Man. :^) I could see a few quilt shots in those too. Just sayin'. Like we don't have enough on our quiltlists.

Brown Family said...

Beautiful country! What a joy to see nature at it's best!