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No super-bloom, but still beautiful: Anza Borrego at the end of February

March 3, 2016
death valley superbloom 2005

Death Valley super-bloom in February 2005.

Lots of folks have been posting about this year’s “super-bloom” of annual wildflowers in Death Valley National Park.

I was one of the  lucky ones who got to witness its last occurrence back in 2005 (photos above and below).


Another image from 2005 during Death Valley’s last “super- bloom” . . . “I can see for miles and miles” . . . and it’s all desert gold.

Because desert rainfall is such a locally variable phenomenon, during last weekend’s visit to Anza Borrego Desert State Park we witnessed no such massive color show.

There were, however, plenty of desert shrubs providing startling beauty for us and pollen/nectar for critters:


Vivid chuparosa: hummingbird magnet. (And ocotillo about to bloom behind it.)

Almost as rare as a super-bloom: spotting the elusive desert bighorn sheep (the “borrego” in Anza Borrego).  Saturday morning I had such an encounter: 6 am, slanted light, a cracking noise–like rifle shots–echoing off the sheer rocky slopes of Indian Head mountain, and a rowdy band of curly-horned males bouncing around and smacking horns.


Other highlights of the weekend: our annual family trek up Palm Canyon to the waterfalls. My first camping trip here was in 1963; now I count myself blessed to be able to introduce my grandchildren to this fabulous place in all its rough beauty.


Me, two granddaughters, and one great-nephew being photobombed by one of my sister-grandmas.

(And to see my son and nephew and great-nephews taking off their shoes to hike parts of the trail . . . so much fun! Sure, I’m known in our family as the crazy barefoot one, but bit by bit some of my relatives are seeing for themselves how fabulous it is to go without shoes on God’s green–or sandy and rocky–earth.)


My computer-industry son and his elementary school principal cousin: out from behind their desks and on the trail, barefoot!


This little guy told us he was going to do some yoga. And he did! He also hiked a lot of the Palm Canyon trail shoeless . . . upon witnessing which, the trail docent/volunteer told my brother (the little guy’s grandpa) “that’s borderline child abuse!” Glad I wasn’t there to hear that . . . I would have given him an earful about what’s good or bad for kids’ feetsies . . . 


My niece and her spunky one-year-old daughter resting at the palm oasis . . . the next generation of shoeless pioneers!


Speaking of spunky kids: all the rugrats had a good time rock scrambling, shoeless or shod. Here’s my oldest granddaughter . . . imitating a bighorn sheep?


A loggerhead shrike, just before dawn, perching . . .  waiting. These interesting birds sometimes impale their prey on thorns, and come back later for a snack. Yikes . . . 

Sunrise over Font’s Point! I take pictures of it every year, and it never. Gets. Old.


Early morning, desert light, water to reflect . . . although it’s heavily impacted by hikers during the day, just before dawn Palm Canyon is a place of peace.


So . . . no super-bloom at Anza Borrego this February, but still a magical place/time to visit.



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