Saturday, February 6, 2016

West Butte and Slot Hike, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

 

We love hiking through slot canyons, and had never made it to the most popular one in Anza Borrego on our previous visits, so it was high on the list of hikes to do this time. The gang piled into two cars and made the 20 mile drive to the trailhead for The Slot, in the Borrego badlands.

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Since the trail out and back through the slot is short, we decided to make a longer loop up West Butte and end in the slot.

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I wrote some poor directions from a website about the hike, and we were never really sure if we were on the correct route. There are trails everywhere, so we just picked what we thought was the right one and headed off, up the butte, along ridges and through washes and a jeep road.

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We finally ended up in the slot. Sometimes it’s just better to sit down and scoot.

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We hiked 5 miles but it seemed longer for some reason. Probably because we felt lost most of the time. On the way home we stopped for a late lunch at Carmelita’s in Borrego Springs. A good day!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Home in the Desert

 

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It was after noon before we finally got out of Yuma Tuesday, with stops to dump, get water, gas, propane, veggies at the wonderful farm stand, and a new BBQ grill cover for the bikes at Home Depot.

I always forget about the Imperial Sand Dunes area that we pass by along I-8 shortly after entering California. Can’t imagine how much sand must have been blowing around over the weekend.

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We’re parked off Rockhouse Road at a very popular boondock area that we’ve stayed at twice before. Since we were last here Anza Borrego State Park acquired more of the surrounding land and there are stricter regulations regarding dispersed camping, which means there are more rigs in this area than we’ve ever seen. Jim and I arrived first and were able to find a good sized vacant piece of desert with plenty of space for Mark and Bobbie, Suzanne, and Chris to spread out. We have great views of the mountians and a few bars of 4G Verizon, although it’s a bit slow at times.

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After getting settled in we took a two mile walk down the road to Clark Dry Lake.

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Unfortunately being on Pacific Time now means it gets dark (and cold) shortly after five.

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Yesterday we hiked from camp up into the Coyote Mountains. Chris was parked in another boondocking area about a half mile away and had been exploring the hills. He thought we might be able to get up to the highest point, Coyote Peak, so we worked our way up the rough old jeep road and trails to a summit.

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Our summit, after climbing over 1,000’ in 3.25 miles. We think we could see a faint trail that would take us up to Coyote Peak, but nobody was interested, since we still had almost 3 miles and 1,500 more feet to climb. Maybe another day….

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Wonder what this sign used to say.

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Citrus groves on the outskirts of Borrego Springs.

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A glimpse of Clark Dry Lake bed from above. We could even see the Salton Sea, but it was too hazy for photos.

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On the way back down we took a little detour and found the snake and quite a bit of additional rock art since our last time here two years ago.

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It took a little imagination to try and figure some of them out.

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I discovered what I thought was a fish, but Bobbie had me look from a different angle.

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Where it looked like an eagle.

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I thought this was a lobster, but then Bobbie decided it was a scorpion, which would make more sense in the desert.

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Time to use your imagination. Coyote?

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Big horn sheep? A lot of work went into making these.

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Today we hiked through a slot canyon and more, but I’ll save that for another post. Although the lows have been in the 30s, at least the daytime temps have been pleasant, in the low 60s, and with no wind. But it looks like we’re in for a warming trend and 80 degrees by the weekend. Not that I’m complaining, but our Colorado buddies might think that’s a little too hot.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Glad We Stayed Put

 

Despite the threat of high winds and rain by mid afternoon, Saturday morning started out calm and clear. In fact it was one of the prettiest mornings we had all week. When we stay at Mittry Lake I enjoy taking an early morning walk about a half mile up the road to the trash. This cute dog greeted me each morning. The owner said this is her chair, and most days she gave me a short bark to say hello. She has a very deep voice!

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I just carried my little pocket camera but wished I had brought the long zoom Panasonic as the birds were out in force. Not a great shot of this kingfisher since I had to do some serious cropping, but we rarely see them. This was actually the third one I saw here this week.

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The calm before the storm.

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We went into Yuma for laundry and a few groceries, and by the time we got back the wind had picked up and the sky was darkened by blowing dust. I didn’t take any more photos during the dust storm, but you can see the haze over the hiils behind Mittry Lake. I think we lucked out compared to some parts of the southwest, as we only got a couple dozen drops of rain and some good wind gusts, but we’ve been in worse.

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Yesterday was sunny and much cooler, but with strong winds not a good day for travel. Today is calm and clear again, and we are definitely moving on to Anza Borrego. See you there!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Stop at Mittry Lake

 

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The past couple winters we spent quite a bit of time at Mittry Lake, about 15 miles north of Yuma, since both of us had dental issues to take care of in Algodones, Mexico. This year there were no dental appointments but we had a couple other things to attend to in Yuma, and wanted to show Mark and Bobbie one of our winter haunts. I don’t think they’re very impressed, but we still like it here. Smile

A fire caused by carelessness and fireworks back in August has changed our view. Where we park used to be blocked from the road by vegetation, but now it’s an eerie, burned landscape between us and the lake. On previous visits we could not see the RVs parked down by the water.

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It’s still pretty, though. Scenes from a sunset walk on our first day.

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We took Mark and Bobbie, along with Suzanne, on our favorite hikes up into the hills right surrounding the camping area.

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We call this area “Graffitti Rocks”. Don’t ask me how to get there. Even after several times I’m not sure if I could find it again.

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Our favorite is the “Ridgeline Hike”, where last year we saw bighorn sheep a couple different times. No such luck this time around.

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This is some stark, rocky terrain.

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Jim and I took a short trip to Algodones to get a few things from the pharmacy and do a little window shopping. The markets in Mexico are so colorful but we didn’t find anything to buy.

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We had a fun happy hour one night with Suzanne’s friends John W. and Mary, who are staying up the road at Imperial Dam, and John S. (Just Finding Our Way), who is also here at Mittry Lake.

From left, John S, Suzanne, Mark (practicing for his nursing home days), Bobbie, Jim, John and Mary.

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One day we biked over Laguna Dam into California and rode along the All-American Canal, an 80 mile aqueduct and the largest irrigation canal in the world.

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Continued on to the Imperial Dam BLM LTVA camping area. It was a good ride, and mostly flat.

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We had planned to leave yesterday and head to Anza Borrego, but after looking at the weather forecast decided to hang out here a few more days as it looks like the wind and rain won’t be quite as bad. We’ll see. So today we hiked the Telegraph Pass hill, 5.5 miles round trip, with about 1,200’ of elevation gain. A good workout with nice views.

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After the hike we went downtown to check out the Yuma Date Festival. Mark, Bobbie and Suzanne had a date shake, followed by lunch at DaBoyz, a great pizza place that we’ve eaten at a few times before.

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The festival wasn’t too exciting but we did buy a pound of Honey Dates, which are very small, soft and sweet. Had never tried them before but they are really good.

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So that brings us up-to-date, no pun intended. Hope to be out of here in a couple days, if we don’t get blown away.