Monday, January 9, 2012

Palm Canyon Trail

After 11 days of boondocking it was time to take the motorhome for a visit to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to utilize their facilities.  It was the best $7 we have spent in a long time.  Our price of admission not only included replenishing the system's water supply and tank disposal but "all day" day use.  Hence, we did our business and drove up to the trailhead parking for the very popular Palm Canyon Trail.

Approaching the state park

Near the "alternate" trailhead

Our hike began at the "alternate" trail leading up to the palm canyon oasis on the south side along the foothills. According to our GPS it adds about a mile round-trip to the posted 3-mile hike and is a bit steeper with more rock scrambling and an elevation gain of about 400'.

Along the alternate trail
Within a short distance we were treated to the rare appearance of the shy Borrego Bighorn sheep, probably a herd of at least 15 or more!

The rams

A few wore tracking collars
We just stood for the longest time admiring these beautiful creatures and trying to get a few decent camera shots, but finally tore ourselves away to continue on the trail as the day warmed up.

Taking a break

.....for a photo op
While most of the rocks we stepped over were placed there by water, some stones were likely placed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s.

After about a mile and a half of climbing and scrambling we spotted the palm oasis a half mile or so up ahead.

California fan palm grove
The skirt of palm fronds protects from water loss
A few years ago there was a massive flash flood that wiped out many of the trees and changed the landscape drastically.  Huge boulders washed down from the mountain tops and palms were uprooted and carried downstream, many as far as the campground.

Flash flood destruction
Huge boulders wash down from above

All desert life revolves around water.

Waterfall and pool
We returned much later in the afternoon to our off-road desert site after a full day enjoying $7 well-spent.  Our neighbors invited us over for a very happy hour and the full moon provided a spectacular light show!

Full moon rising 

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