Connecting To Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Barefoot
This month marked the 49th year of my family going camping at Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
Back in the early 1960’s, we’d head there on a Friday afternoon, right from school, as soon as the 3:15 bell rang. Other families from St. John’s school would meet us there, and we’d spend the weekend scrambling around the Panamora Outlook’s rocky hillsides. A trek up Palm Canyon to the palm oasis (water! in the desert! we loved it!) capped the weekend spent living, eating, sleeping outdoors–connecting to the mysterious, harsh, and beautiful desert in ways we didn’t really realize at the time.
Four out of my six siblings and I met there earlier this month, drawn once again by our thirst for the rocks, sand, and endless sky. Oh yeah…and to sit around the campfire, toast marshmallows, and re-hash the “good old days” — like when the park ranger drove up to our campsite and informed my parents that there was a limit of 8 people per site. 7 kids + 2 parents =9 campers, so my mom replied, “Which one of these kids do you want me to send home?”
Here we are in 2011, with our own grandkids now, getting ready to enjoy another star-filled evening.
Besides the grandkids, one other difference in this visit to Anza Borrego: I spent the whole weekend barefoot, including a couple of trips up the Palm Canyon trail. The most painful surface: the pitted blacktop road on the way to the trailhead. The water was really flowing in the canyon, making for some fun water crossings.
My only cactus encounter was when I wandered “off trail” to the base of the Panorama OOutlook hill–I did not see, but certainly felt, a mass of glocchids (the almost-invisible, soft spines of some cactus) inject themselves into the ball of my left foot. It was unbearably painful to put weight on, but when I passed my hand over the surface of my foot, I could not feel anything projecting out…just pain sensations as my fingers disturbed the glocchids.
Finally–here was a chance to use the tiny roll of duct tape I always carry with me.
I tore off a piece the size of the ball of my foot, and rubbed it down good. Real good. Then, a quick tear-off–and–no more cactus in foot.
Camping as a kid = being able to appreciate nature more as an adult. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for making the effort to drag seven kids (and all the accompanying gear) camping throughout the 1960’s, throughout the West.