Saturday, January 19, 2013

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - Split Mountain and the Badlands, CA

The weather is finally a lot warmer - over 70F and a LOT hotter than that in the sun, which is out all day thanks to cloudless skies.  Nights are no longer below freezing, but Grady is still snuggling under the covers with me.  I guess he's decided he likes it.

Marilyn in The Slot
We spend a day at Split Mountain, about 25 miles from where we are camped.  First, we hike "The Slot", a slot canyon which is very narrow in spots but not colourful.  The walls are a drab grey and brown, with small rocks to small boulders cemented into the sand/clay conglomerate - these are called concretions.  But it has the typical shape of a slot, snaking back and forth like the track of a serpent.  It narrows several times so that I have to turn sideways and position my bum-pack (not my big bum, but a pack to carry water and emergency gear belted around my hips) at the widest point to get through.  It's fun squeezing in and out of the waves.  Once it opens up into a wider wash, we turn around and head back the way we came.  In the parking lot when we arrive, we meet a couple from Newmarket, Ontario (near Toronto).  They are here only for a two-week vacation and we chat about the various places we have visited

View of folds and mountains; Fish Creek Wash snaking through
The drive along Fish Creek Wash takes us through a dry wash of a very deep canyon.  The sandstone walls tower above us over 500 feet high.  We have to avoid some large boulders in the sandy road.  At one point, we reach "The Anticline", a rock fold that looks as if Popeye bent a straight pipe until the ends meet.  The stone layers form several semicircles radiating out from the centre.  More forces of nature - this desert park sits on several fault lines where the northward-moving Pacific Plate meets the southward-moving North American Plate, just like along the San Andreas Fault.  We do not get an earthquake during our stay.

Brad (beside the white dot) having a nap on the Wind Cave rocks
Our destination is the Wind Caves trail, which climbs very steeply to these sandstone formations.  The holes in the rocks have been eroded by wind and blowing sand, not water.  We feel like we are in Bedrock and Fred and Barney will emerge from one of the stone houses at any time.  The view is actually the most spectacular thing here.  From the Wind Caves, we have a view of the Elephants Knees: sandstone cliffs eroded into peaks and valleys that actually resemble the legs and knees of elephants.  Unfortunately, they are to the south and directly into the sun, so the photos don't do them justice.  We can see other valleys, washes and mountains all around us, in the typical golden California colours.
The Elephants Knees
Inspiration Wash in the Badlands
And today (yes, really today as in the date this was posted), we drive up to Inspiration Point in the Badlands.  Another rugged road, another fabulous view of the Badlands, the valley with the town of Borrego Springs and mountains.  In fact, we can see our trailer from here (with binoculars).  We intend to also visit Fonts Point (another overlook of the Badlands) and drive through Short Wash, but decide we've seen what there is to see and return home for a lazy afternoon in the sun instead.  Tomorrow, we will move to Blair Valley, another region of this park and explore the canyons and mountains there.

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