A Trip to the Anza-Borrego National Park

Coyote Mountain (aka the backyard)
After a 5am taxi cab and a two hour flight, we arrived at Palm Springs International Airport on Saturday to snow topped mountains and warm sunshine. If you ever get a chance to fly into Palm Springs go for it - it's worth it! How often do you get to land and then step off the back end stairway of the plane onto the tarmac like a rock star? Instant sunshine gratification that's what.
It didn't last long though because by the time we arrived that afternoon in Borrego Springs (after a detour through lunch and multiple margaritas) the sun had slipped behind rolling gathering clouds. On our return from our first foray out into the desert the sprinkles began to fall, soon turning to full on rain. The desert valley ended up getting 1.5 out of 2 inches of annual rainfall. It was beautiful to see - the way the light shifted and changed on Coyote Mountain and within a day green things began springing up all over the desert floor.
Each day was spent exploring a different section of the Anza-Borrego National Park. On Sunday we took an exploritory hike up Hawk Canyon. Andy & I started off together, climbing up above the canyon, but then, as it were inevitable, he took off to summit some yonder peak and I moseyed my way further up the canyon. After our return to the Jeep with water and snacks, I worked on one of soon to be several desert watercolors. The light and clouds and shadows were changing so swiftly that within seconds the colors had all changed. I quickly acclimated to painting rather swiftly which is against my nature but I must admit, I've gotten quite hooked!
Our drive back into town was met with a continuation of the shifting light and some of the most unusual cloud formations. Lucy & I theorized that the clouds were forming from the evaporation of water directly out of the desert floor. Shifting sky reaching spires and tentacles wisping up at the base of each mountain. Completely breathtaking.
Andy climbing the wind caves
The following day, Monday, we took a Jeep ride through Split Mountain - a sheer canyon about a mile with a wash flat and clear enough to drive all the way through. (I tried several times to take pictures but they all came out pretty blurry) On the other side of the canyon we parked and took a hike up into the hills to see the Wind Caves. Andy of course immediately had to climb them - love that guy =)
Beyond the Wind Caves lies an area called Elephant Knees. Here is a picture of them taken through an ocotilo:
They are basically dunes formed into mud and then hardened. The area used to be under water ages ago, so when you look closely at the mud you can find all sorts of fossilized shellfish and the whole area glittered in the sun from calcite deposits. Lucy had a field day poking through it all. Such archealogical exploration was rendered easier by all the previous rain that for perhaps just the day, un-hardened some of the hardened mud, making it into some pretty muddy mud.
Our last day we hiked to a fairly famous section of the park called Palm Canyon. It was called such because it was one of two spots where water is almost constant and hidden deep up in the canyon is an actual small oasis - an old grove of palm trees near a watering hole. Of course, after all the rains what is normally a mere trickle this time of year was a fully flowing gushing bubbling stream. Wildlife and fresh greens abounded.
We concluded Tuesday after the Palm Canyon hike with a mad dash to Palm Springs where a fine meal and a few more margaritas awaited us pre-flight. Afterall we had no choice since there was a birthday to celebrate!
All in all... well, is it time to go back yet?


Emma said...

Looks very pretty! I've learned living out here that even if it's not "great" weather it can still be really beautiful! (not as much the case in Ohio!) That first stormy photo is pretty neat!

sycamore baby said...

my parents live in borrego springs and both volunteer at the park - when i visited a few years ago we did a cool hike through the slot canyons.