Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Slot – Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness

(Borrego Springs, CA) With all the adventures since we’d been to Borrego Springs, we decided to make Wednesday a ‘down day’. The only activity on the schedule was ‘Happy Hour’ with the Dopps (Marlene and Richard), and the Dubrouillet’s (JoAnn and Doug). I think Ken and I were the one’s to enjoy this time most since we learned so much from these two couples who were experienced in several years of visits to the Anza-Borrego wilderness.

We were very impressed with the amount of very active exploring the Dopps include in there visit, especially the amount of hiking and biking and the number of miles covered. By the time they left we had our Thursday planned on recommendations to visit ‘The Slot’, one of several slot canyons in the area.


Early Thursday, since our fresh water tank was still showing full after 5 days on the desert, Ken and I decided we each could luxuriate in hot morning showers after a night of temperatures that got down below freezing.

Joann and Doug, Ken and I piled in to the jeep at 10am to start our adventure into the Anza-Borrego Wilderness. On the way, we stopped in town at the Borrego Desert Nature Center to confirm the 4WD roads we intended to take in and out of the canyon.


We noticed on the drive that the ocotillo are really starting to show off their blazing red blooms.

We parked at the top of the slot canyon



and looked for the least treacherous path in to the slot. This was probably the most difficult part of the trail. On the way out, I walked another 1/2 mile up the canyon trying to find a better place with the result being a decision that our way in was the easiest way out ---- and I got an extra mile much needed exercise!


I guess I got caught up in the experience and caught myself frequently rushing ahead to see what was around the next corner.


But, there were a few sections that were best handled on the buddy system.


The shadows, light and variations in color and texture were amazing.


This is no place for people who aren’t comfortable in tight spots!


IMG_2591 IMG_2609


One of my new favorite pictures of Doug and JoAnn!


While walking the part of the slot canyon at right, it is not the best time to talk about what could happen if you happened to be down there in one of the frequent California earthquakes!!

It was 1pm when we hiked back out of the slot and the guys were ready for a rest and snack.



Along the ledge of the canyon, JoAnn pointed out to me several variations of desert wildflowers in early bloom including this Arizona Lupine.

Our trek home was quite the adventure on it’s own, 2 hours of 4WD through the Borrego Badlands!


There were times when the landscape was nothing but badlands from horizon to horizon. This was a lot of fun, well, except for the 1/2 hour when we were lost and wondering if we were really going to get out before dark. JoAnn said not to worry when the cookies were all gone she still had some brownies. Ken just said ‘Uh, no, sorry, you don’t!!”….apparently the guys went through the treats while we were finding flowers! Without any sweets left in the vehicle, the guys were much more focused on finding the route out!



Luckily we weren’t to far down the route before some landmarks gave us reassurance, such as ‘Five Palms’, a small oasis out in the desert.

17 Palms Oasis not only was scenic but had quite an interesting history.


This oasis with its massive skirted palms has apparently been the stopping point for nomadic wayfarers and emigrants for thousands of years drawn by the promise of cool shade from the trees and water from spring.



During the days of the California gold prospectors, the springs here became unreliable and so travelers with extra water would leave it here in glass jars.

Thirsty travelers began to rely on these water jars, hidden in the skirts of the palms.

It also became custom to leave messages with the jars and so the location became known as ‘Prospectors Mailbox’.

I didn’t know until we got back home that, still today, there is hidden within these palms, a ‘mailbox’ with a logbook where visitors can leave messages to retain this tradition. And, in fact, you’ll often find bottles of water left there as well! I guess now we’ll have to go back!

It wasn’t until 4pm that we arrived back at our boondocking site on Rockhouse Road. We were all really tired and so decided to do early dinner in town at Carmelita’s. On a recommendation from Jo (Jo and Fred) JoAnn and I both tried the Chile Relleno which we agreed were excellent. I would definitely not, however, recommend the margaritas unless you like a splash of margarita mix with your glass of tequila!

We were home early and in for the night. I called back home to my sister, Kathleen, to get the lowdown on the impact of the blizzard and catch up on hometown and family news. She said that few my age would remember a snow and drifting anything like they had seen the last 48 hours. When we talked it was in the single-digits there.

It’s suppose to be another chilly night here, getting below freezing so I need to be the first to jump in to my pajamas so I don’t qualify as a participant in the last dog walk for the evening!

Hugs, C


John and Sandy said...

Great photos!!! We took that hike when we were in Borrego last March and really enjoyed it. Borrego is a beautiful area and lots of hiking to do in the area. It was great in March as the wildflowers were in bloom. Enjoy and Hugs to the both of you; and hopefully we will see you down the road.

Cyndi said...

On my list for next weekend! I love slot canyons.

dreamjosie said...

Since the chili rellenos and Carmelita's recommendation was simply hearsay from someone I didn't know, I'm glad it worked out so well.

I think we will have to go back to Borrego Springs to check it out ourselves. I think Fred would probably enjoy the margaritas as you describe them. :)))

Gin and Syl said...

Cookies and that's my kind of Survival Food!!

Frerx Adventures said...

John and Sandy...maybe Defeated again?
Cyndi...we are doing a canyon hike tomorrow too then heading out. We'll let you know if it should be on the list!
See you soon, Jo!
Syl, we had fruit along too but strange how that wasn't the first thing to get eaten!

Jim and Dee said...

What a great time. Thanks for taking us along. The rocks reminded me of the cave we went through with you guys, only it's OPEN and not dark, tight squeeze.