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Back to Anza Borrego

February 26, 2014

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That’s me in the early 1960s . . . as I mentioned in my previous post/tribute to my recently deceased dad, he introduced our family to California’s deserts soon after we moved to California. Behind me is the iconic Indian Head mountain in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Next to me: a cholla cactus. For whatever reason, I’m looking a little prickly in this photo as well.

My siblings and I revived the annual trip to Anza Borrego a decade or so ago . . . so that’s where some of us were last weekend. Indian Head remains as the iconic backdrop:

IMG_7641 (480x640)Now there is a paved trail between the Palm Canyon Campground and the Visitor’s Center, so hubby (on his 1960s Schwinn Sting-Ray) and I took a little trip before the rest of the family arrived.

IMG_7638 (480x640)The paved trail is to my left; fortunately, there was also a foot path next to it . . . a much nicer running experience. After we left the Visitor’s Center, I ran over to (and part way up) the Palm Canyon Trail as the sun was setting. Near the trailhead is a sign warning hikers to carry enough water and–“as always”–wear “sturdy walking shoes or boots.”

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I’m pleased to report my bare feet are plenty sturdy; the trail is a nice mix of sand and rock, and at sunset it offers the contrast of last light and shadows creeping toward Font’s Point (behind the ocotillo silhouette).

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In the morning: more sublime glow shows:

Font's Point just before sunrise

Font’s Point just before sunrise

Creosote bush silhouette in the first splinter of daylight

Creosote bush silhouette and the first splinter of sun

Later, our group of 13 made the pilgrimage up Palm Canyon. One by one my brother, nephews, great-niece-and-nephew, son, three granddaughters, and husband all shucked their shoes for various portions in the hike. Yes, this made my day.

IMG_7802 (480x640)The best part: streams in the desert.

IMG_7812 (640x480)I like to carry a GoLite hiking umbrella on desert treks. While I highly recommend it for taking some of the intensity out of sun-glare, I simply cannot endorse it for flying like Mary Poppins. But Granddaughter had to try it anyway.

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With little rain over the winter, there were almost no annual wildflowers gracing the hills and washes. But . . .  some of the amazingly hardy shrubs had blossoms:

Creosote in bloom

Creosote’s waxy yellow blooms

Chuparosa, a major hummingbird magnet

Chuparosa, a major hummingbird magnet

Desert brittlebush, another faithful flowering shrub.

Desert brittlebush, another faithful flowering shrub

The “borrego” in Anza Borrego has to do with the Spanish name for the desert bighorn sheep which thrive in this land of shattered rock cliffs. Their coloring makes it almost impossible to spot them when they are still among the boulders; the one in the photo below had moved and caught the attention of some other hikers, who patiently kept pointing across the valley until we figured out where to look.

A desert bighorn sheep in Palm Canyon--right in the middle of the photo, but difficult to spot.

A desert bighorn sheep in Palm Canyon–right in the middle of the photo, but difficult to spot from a distance.

Easy to find: Ricardo Breccia's metal sculptures are all over the Borrego Springs area.

Easier to find: Ricardo Breccia’s metal sculptures are all over the Borrego Springs area.

The desert seems harsh and foreign to us; to the plants and animals that are so very well suited to live here . . . it’s just home.

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