March 31, 2013:
Sunday was a ride from Borrego Springs to Montezuma Junction on Highway S-22, it is a long steep grade to Crawford Overlook with great views of the Borrego Valley far below. It is a different world on the other side of the mountain with green grass and trees, the desert is gone ! We turned around at Montezuma Junction then made a pit stop at the interesting Ranchita Store, with its Abominal Snowman. We then found our way down a dirt road for the Culp Valley Campground, parked and hiked about a mile to the Pena Spring. This spring actually had water in it and was surrounded by lush green vegetation. This is a spring that was used by the Indians and early settlers. We saw many beautiful wild flowers there and lots more hiking possibilities. The ride back down the mountain was a thrill ride with these insane bikers passing us at 100 MPH and others coming right at us on the center line at high speed with the bike leaned over like they were on a motocross race course.
Monday morning was a laundry trip into Borrego Springs followed by a hiking adventure to the Truckhaven Rocks close to our campsite. We parked at a pull off along the highway and hiked into a wash that progressively became more interesting. The wash became very narrow in places, actually a slot canyon with sculpted hard sandstone walls probably 30 feet tall. Lots of crazy geology going on in this place ! More short hikes on Tuesday and Wednesday to Surprise Canyon and to Smoke Tree Wash. The washes are amazing, side canyons all over, so much erosion, it really gives you a respect for the powers of nature.
The wind here left for three days, but now on Tuesday and Wednesday, it's back ! Funny, we are sort of used to it now, it's part of the wild desert experience. Marshall South said it best in his December 1941 article for Desert Magazine; Like a primitive woman,blending fierce love and savage fury. There lies the fascination with the desert. Do you seek for something calm and ordered, methodical, dependable and listlessly "dead" ? Then turn your search elsewhere; you will not find it here.
We returned to Hellhole Canyon Trail on Thursday to do the entire hike, as previously we had only gone part way. So glad we did, it was really special, the trail leads from the hot, dry desert into a rock filled canyon with a small trickle of water and huge Palm trees, then after a challenging scramble through a maze of boulders you end up at a pool of water surrounded by fern covered rock walls fed by a small waterfall dropping straight down from above. Afterwards it was a stop at Carlee's Bar for a couple of ice cold beers.
Friday after a stop at the Borrego Springs Farmers Market we headed for the town of Julian, California. The ride on 78 west is really a thrill ride up a sharp twisty steep road to about 4,000 ft elevation. The scenery changes dramatically enroute from dry low desert to high desert to lush green mountain meadow. The town of Julian was well beyond our expectations ! It is a tastefully restored old western town brimming with interesting history, restaurants, bars, shops, hotels and many bed & Breakfast places. It is also a huge Apple growing center and all over town Apple Pie was flowing. We stopped at "Mom's Pies, etc. on Main Street, it was packed with people buying Pie's for Easter by the hundreds, maybe thousands, and eating slices of Pie too. Of course I had a hankering for a slice, it smelled so good, I got the apple cherry crump pie, it was really yummy ! Twinkles took a bite and gave it a big thumbs up and we all know she is a bit of a health food organic snob !
Saturday was a bouncy bone jarring drive up Coyote Canyon road (rough sand and rock) to Desert Gardens where I parked it. The dually is useless in this terrain it just sinks and has lousy traction. We then hiked from there to the second crossing, which is the second place where Coyote Creek crosses the road. Lots of people driving all kinds of vehicles on this road, (some shouldn't be there) which is best suited for 4 wheel drive jeeps. Coyote Creek was flowing nicely at the crossing but not very deep, no one was having trouble crossing it. It's always special to see free flowing water in the desert, that isn't in an irrigation ditch. This was also the route that the Anza expedition took on their way to settle in San Francisco. This was our turn around point, on the way back along the Creek, I found a rock dam with a small pond to soak my feet in, it felt real nice. We also found a "mortero" which is a dished out area in a rock that the Indians used to grind seeds, they are common in this area. The sun was getting very hot on the trip back and we were very appreciative for the AC in the truck. We even stopped for an ice cream on the way back to Borrego Springs.
Another interesting thing; On our way out Rockhouse Road this morning the road was blocked by Park Ranger vehicles with lights flashing. They had a guy with a pickup truck pulled over. We were stuck there as they pulled an arsenal of guns out of this guys truck and confiscated them. They then all got in their vehicles and headed back down the road with him to most likely search his RV.
I'm struggling with income tax preparation this week and it's ugly, we may have to boondock full time !
The next stop is Joshua Tree National Park on Monday, but unsure what we will find there, the Park campground is pretty full with all the "Spring Breakers". We think we will go to the Park overflow area just outside of the park on BLM land initially.
Happy Easter to all, watch for the next installment.
Twinkles and Slick
|Parked out in the great wide open|
|Famous Serpent sculpture in Borrego Springs|
|Orange trees at Borrego Springs|
|Beautiful Yucca in full bloom|
|The Ranchita Store|
|We go into the narrow Truckhaven Rocks Wash|
|Ocotillo against the mountain|
|Truckhaven Rocks view|
|Smoke Tree Wash view|
|Cholla cactus blooms|
|Beavertail Cactus blooming along Hellhole Trail|
|Butterfly along Hellhole Trail|
|View from the pass outside Banner, CA|
|Hedgehog Cactus in bloom|
|Downtown Julian, California, Apple Pie on every corner|
|Interesting historical facts|
|Palm trees in Hellhole Canyon|
|View from Hellhole Canyon Trail|
|The waterfall at the end of the Hellhole Canyon Trail|
|Ansel Adams looking scene behind our camp site|
|Coyote Creek Road at 2nd Crossing|
|Nice place to soak your tired feet near 2nd crossing|