Queen of the Walkabout
Joined: 15 Jan 2004
| Posted: 4/12/2007, 4:53 am
I stand at the edge of the canyon, walls fall away for several hundred feet. The view is of jumbled rocks and breakdown of walls, large boulders and mud slides. The trail edges down through a rock fall, made by hikers and animals, because the old route was obliterated. I just hope I can make it through the rest of the trip unscathed.
This route is two for two, first time I fell over a sharp rock, slicing my lower leg and revealing a round portal of the bone, slow seepage of dark blood. First time use of the first aid kit, and using a bandana as a pressure treatment of the wound, and my trekking poles like crutches.
Second time I fell in front of my friend Jerry, a knot on my head and arm, resulting in a black eye later.
Now I prepare to descend, watch my footing carefully, and plan to skip through unharmed. Such is an Anza Borrego hike, where there are no maintained trails and most are old Indian routes if you find a trail at all. The landscape is low desert, geology is king here, not much plant cover, even cactus is discreet. Ocotillo, scrub brush and clans of cholla. Dry, harsh and hard.
Yet I have a love for this place, I cut my southwest hiking teeth here, used to scrambling versus walking, stepping up and almost squatting for the downhill.
This hike is a loop, climbing one canyon, across a rolling ridgeline, to descend another canyon then a cross country walk to the car. The views on top are amazing. As usual I walk alone, I have not seen anyone else on this loop. The beginning of the ridge walk I have never truely found, I just ascend a beautiful dry waterfall chute, and intersect the trail. As I walk up canyon number one, the rough rolling land ascends above, looking up reveals such gorgeousness, but the footing requires attention. Not that is what is under your feet is not interesting. It is. Beautiful rocks and tantalizing clues as to what this land is all about. An undersea past; a desert present.
This is part of an old Cahuilla Indian route over to Wonderstone wash. Need to get there someday. Would have to pack a lot of water. I find it is somehow satisfying to place my foot where perhaps a moccasin stepped a hundred or so years ago. Maybe more than a few. My view of this landscape is probably very similar to theirs. If I reach out, maybe I can make a connection.
A slog up a hill, the trail wanders out of a deepening rock chute, made by rushing waters. Look back, and the aerial view of the Dry Clark Lake Bed spreads out, with a curious hill, part of a fault line, which I like to photograph if the day is not hazy. It is a linear question mark in the flatness of the lake bed. More uphill, the sky now crests the top of the hill. I make it, and a small rolling valley is before me, with more rises of the mountains along side embracing it. A short walk brings me to the edge and looking down Canyon 2, the return. This canyon is rougher, with bouldering, and sliding down short drops, gets narrow then opens up grandly. My first trip I stopped and had lunch before my fall, and discovered a shell, a brachiopod, laying on a rock. Perfectly formed, bleached a stark white. The ocean gives up it's denizens.
I walk down the rock slide, and visit the dry tanks which most of the year contain water for the bighorn sheep. I wander downcanyon, never bored by the rock varieties and textures, but appreciate my careful footing. No repeats. I must break this record. I like this hike, perhaps it doesn't like me.
I pass into the narrows, not very tall walls and shade, which is at a premium this hike. It is best done in the cold winter sun.
The narrows are short, interesting, and I make it without an issue. The canyon spreads out now, soon to become a wide wash with low walls. I turn toward my vehicle, scale a short wall, and walk cross country over veins of washes descending from the mountains. I note sections of the "desert pavement" and what looks like some possible old campsites, perhaps before roads out here. An old section of trail, fades in and out, followable where it was packed down many years ago. Who all walked here I wonder?? So many in history we will never know of. Who will know of me when I pass on. No one.
My foot steps are alone out here. I feel sad for an instant, then happy. I look up at the rough and rocky mountains.
I know I was here. And that is enough for me.