Monday, January 26, 2015

A Jeep drive to Split Mountain & Fish Creek, hiking the wind caves, sunsets galore, and some other news~~

Last year's Coyote Canyon drive
Howard and I have spent some of our best outings in our old Jeep Wrangler, exploring many of the numerous backroads here in the vast Anza Borrego Desert, pushing our limits at times, possibly not using our best judgment, but loving every adrenalin-rushed moment. Since getting our much more comfortable and roomy Toyota RAV-4 last year, which does have 4-wheel drive, though certainly not Jeep-worthy, we've been experiencing some adrenalin withdrawal.

But that all changed with the arrival of Carolyn & Tom who have a very photogenic and roomy red Wrangler. When they graciously suggested an outing, we immediately said YES, and provided some suggestions.

C-MYSTE is their blog & personal license plate

Split Mountain & Fish Creek:

Now this is a serious geologic wonder with views to match. With a few internet searches I managed to glean some basic information.

Split Mountain is indeed separate mountains split into two ranges, the Vallecito Mountains on the west, and Fish Creek Mountains on the east.  Geologists claim that the canyon was formed when water was continually draining from the Carrizo Badlands in the west to the Salton Sink in the east.  As the mountains rose over time, Fish Creek Wash continually gouged down into the new mountains creating the canyon we can drive through today.

On the right side of the canyon, where the rock layers are bent and warped, is what geologists call an anticline~~

Split Mountain
Families and pets camped up the way, out for a walk

A Fossil Reef - High and Dry

Twenty million years ago, where we are standing was the bottom of a warm shallow sea.  The Gulf of California covered the region. Thriving in the warm waters were many varieties of fish, corals, and shellfish. Over thousands of years shells of oysters and pectens accumulated on the sea bottom and were covered by shifting sand.  Thick deposits of shells formed reefs in the shallow sea. The Gulf retreated, faults shifted, and the land uplifted, leaving the ancient reefs high and dry.

So many layers now exposed


Wind Caves:

Once we past the narrow drive through Split Mountain, the road opens up and becomes Fish Creek Wash.  A short distance further we see lots of tent campsites belonging to the families we saw out for a walk.  On our left (east side) sinister formations reminiscent of the fictional, prehistoric town of Bedrock appear high up on the hillside.  
These are the Wind Caves~~

There is a short, somewhat steep and rocky loop trail, about 2 or so miles round-trip, depending on which trails you follow.

And this is what we find up close and personal;
room-size sandstone caves, large enough for us to walk in for some shade and sit awhile admiring the views of the undulating waves of the Carrizo Badlands.


The sunsets have been spectacular, as they are in most parts of the southwest this time of year. Most evenings find us sitting out with the camera and tripod facing the western sky as it lights up with pure magic.  Then we turn to face north and east, as the sun lowers and lights up the Santa Rosa Mountains.  Shadows and clouds join the party.  We see splashes of color and a variety of shapes. Some displays look like puffs of cotton, others like fireworks.


Other news:

We went back to Indio on the designated date for our Verizon phone and internet upgrade; nothing exciting, just a new Droid Turbo and Novatel MiFi.  Both chubby little suckers with big batteries, and about the same signal strength as before.  We are just on the fringe of 2-3 bars of 4G and our old antenna/booster is 3G only.

An unrelated set-back occurred about 10 minutes after our departure from the Verizon Store as we're nicely settled into lunch before attacking Costco and heading home. The new phone went crazy with texts and emails announcing fraud alerts from two of our credit/debit card companies.  A $2000 purchase had been attempted at a nearby Walmart, and when one card was refused, apparently the other was quickly produced.  Though the actual theft had to have taken place at the Verizon store during our transaction and was very slick, the idea of charging an item costing that amount of money was pure stupidity. All in all, there was no damage done, just a lot of nerves and inconvenience.  And yes, we did go back to the store and report the incident and discuss better floor surveillance with the manager.

We are beginning to talk about a possible departure date for Arizona.  In the meantime, we are enjoying lots of walks and hikes, socializing with friends and neighbors, and trying to plug away at the ongoing maintenance issues. And I know for sure there is at least one more Jeep adventure to report.....

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