Hi all, Dianne here. What’s wrong with this picture?? (And I don’t mean the bad hair).
Well, if you know me, you’ll notice that my smile looks pretty fake. In fact, the title of this picture on my computer is “Dianne not amused.” Part of the reason the smile looks fake is that my lips were parched and dry. When does a three-mile “nature trail” feel like an eight-mile “death march”? Let me explain….
Roger is a planner extreme. We have folders of magazine articles we’ve saved over the years for referencing different areas we want to visit. One article we saved described a short, 1 1/2 mile out-and-back hike (3 miles total) to native fan palms at Borrego Springs State Park. Sounds easy, yes? That’s what we thought. All I can say is the folks who wrote the magazine article must have done the hike in the dead of winter.
Our first clue was on the drive over. Aguanga, where our camp site is, is at about 2000 feet elevation. The weather has been cool (evenings and mornings have been downright cold) while we’ve been here. From Aguanga, we drove up and over a mountain range, then down, down, down to about 500 feet elevation at Borrego Springs. As we went down the mountain to the parched valley below, we both remarked how much it reminded us of the approach to Death Valley. They were similar in more ways than one….
We did stop for a quick lunch in town, then drove to the state park visitor’s center. The rangers were busy with other customers, so we took a brochure and headed for the trailhead, which was described to begin on the other side of the campground. Once we got to the fee station, we saw that the fee was $8 for day use until April 30. $8 just for a short nature hike? I don’t think so. We decided to drive back to the visitor’s center and hike to the trail head.
Notice how bright the sun is? Ever heard the expression white-hot heat? We walked, and walked, and walked. This photo was taken on the .7 mile paved trail from the visitor’s center to an asphalt road we walked on (forever) to reach the trailhead. See how far ahead Roger is? Normally I walk much faster than he does. On this day, he was worried about fitting all of our day’s activities in and so he was practically sprinting down the trail, checking his watch now and then, as my irritation level grew with each step. My pedometer clocked 3.3 miles before we even reached the trailhead to begin the trail.
I did note the first safety sign stated “People have died on this trail for lack of water.” Not an auspicious start for a 1 1/2 mile out-and-back. I’m sure it wasn’t 124 degrees as indicated on the warning sign, but it was in the 90s for sure. (Our car thermometer registered 95 when we returned to the car).
This is what I remember of this trail. No dogs allowed, so we couldn’t depend on them to sniff out rattlesnakes for us. There were also areas where the trail was not very well marked. We made a few false turns, but managed to pick our way along.
This is the last photo I took along the trail. The indentations in the rock were made by early Indians who ground Agave seeds in the rock to make flour.
At around this point I reached my limit and threw a hissy-fit. (R: Yes, she did.) I told Roger to go on to the end of the trail and I’d wait for him. In my defense, my foot was starting to hurt from hiking on the rocky, uneven trail, and I was starting to feel a little faint. I only had half a bottle of water left at that point. As you’ll see from the following pictures and narrative from Roger, I should have continued on just a little longer!
I waited near a low, rocky outcropping with about a 2-square-foot area of shade underneath. While I waited for Roger to come back, I crouched in there a few times, but kept imagining all the snakes and rats lurking in the crevices, so I pretty much just stood in the sun. I thought a few times about going back without him, or going on to find him, but I knew I’d probably get lost if I did and they’d find my bleached, white bones a few weeks later. Oh, yeah, and our cell phones were out of range at that point, too, so I would have had to scribble a note to him in the sand and hope that he’d see it.
Roger here.... My high school friend, Adele, explained to me that girls are different than boys in these situations. She told me that they cannot take the heat. At the time she halted her part of the hike, there certainly was a lot of heat, and not all of it was coming from the sun. I did not know she was feeling faint, but I did know that she was not happy with me, and I thought it was best to get away :-).
Soon after I scampered across a dry creek bed on a couple of logs, things got very green.
After climbing over a boulder, the copse of California Palms came into view. Amidst this arid landscape, it was truly an amazing sight.
In a short time, I was surrounded by trees and I could hear running water.
It might have been a nice place to get my feet wet, but I needed to move on.
I walked through a narrow (very short) slot canyon and emerged into an oasis in the desert.
A couple of good things then occurred. One, Dianne was safe and sound where I expected her to be, and she had plenty of water, and she was rested. Two, we did not waste any precious energy talking on the long, hot trek back to the car.
Dianne again…we plan to do a separate blog showing the unique and very cool desert sculptures we drove to see after the
We took some twisty-curvy roads to the small town of Julian, California, whose main claim to fame in these parts is the famous Julian Pie Company. Julian is at a high altitude, and my sunburned, parched skin got goosebumps from the cold as soon as we got out of the car.
But all I can say is all’s well that ends well, and this day certainly ended well with tart, homemade apple pie with a large slab of cinnamon ice cream on top.
I was once again a happy camper!