Monday, March 24, 2014

Not an Easy Sunday Stroll in the Park

The best time to hike in the desert is early morning. We did that for our Ghost Mountain hike, but not being "morning people", Sunday we chose the alternative of a late afternoon/early evening walk, hoping that as the sun went behind the mountains, its heat would diminish.

We set out on the 3+ mile round-trip hike up Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail at about 4 PM. Although I packed cool fresh water, we wore only our regular walking shoes and I left my poles in the car. The description in the park handout was "a gently climbing trail leading to a native palm grove". It started out that way, but got rougher.

The canyon is a big, very old wash. It was amazing to me to see so many large palm logs caught in among the rocks and shrubs.

What force of water had brought them here? How long had they been here, and how long would they remain in the arid landscape?

Craig wondered when this very large boulder had come down on top of this palm log.

After about an hour the sun started to slip down behind the mountains to the west. 

It wasn't sunset, but as I expected it got a bit cooler. 

Not exactly cool, but a more  comfortable temperature.

Did I mention that I left my poles in the car because this was a "gently climbing trail"?

This spot looks level, but it was not! I was grateful for Craig's assistance a number of times. I'm much better with poles than without.

Although there were other hikers on the trail, I noticed how still and quiet the canyon was. But then we heard the subtle babble of water trickling over the rocks.

As we went upstream, the dry rocky wash began to show wetness, and then further along a bit of flow.  The creek on our property in the Santa Cruz mountains dried out from the top down. For a creek to work the other way around, its flow must go underground.

And then, as we climbed past yet another rock fall, we heard a waterfall and saw the palm grove.

I imagined what it must have been like for a Native American woman who had traveled across the hot desert to get to this magical place.  She had no air-conditioned RV to go back to. The cool waters here must have been heavenly to her and her people.

We were almost the last hikers of the day, and enjoyed some time in the grove by ourselves. It was not a quiet place, but the sounds were from birds and the breeze, not civilization. We heard a robin and a frog.

Throughout the hike we kept looking up at the walls of the canyon in hope of spotting some Bighorn Sheep.

No luck, but it was nice to be there at dusk. Perhaps some sheep were just hiding behind the rocks and laughing at us? They would come down for a drink when we were gone.

We took the "alternative" trail back, which is described as a bit more challenging and a half mile longer.  It was. We didn't read those words until we were back at the car. As we came down the canyon we were treated to a nice view of the valley below and the beginings of a low key sunset.

The lesson?  Never go hiking without your poles, and remember that trail descriptions are written by all kinds of people!


  1. I don't recall any of the blogs I read ever covering this particular hike. I liked all of your pictures. My back is feeling a tad bit better today, so I'm thinking I might be able to do this one given enough time, but I'd surely bring my hiking stick. :)

  2. This was a great hike. I loved your description and all the pictures.

  3. And Bighorn Sheep are among the shyest creatures on earth. Cool cloud formation - appearing as right-angled.

  4. While shooting the picture of the right-angled cloud, I said to myelf "Spain".

  5. What an amazing hike--your photos are gorgeous too, especially the clouds pics! Incredible to think what was happening when those palms were deposited there! Al hail the power of a wash full of water!

  6. Looks like another rock climb to me, but worth it since you once again got some great photos. Sounds like you are enjoying yourselves!

  7. We learned the same lessons from some of our hiking in Georgia.

  8. We were fortunate enough to see Bighorn Sheep on that same hike years ago. Water & Palm trees are always so amazing in the desert when one comes across them. Nice time of day to be there & what a bonus to enjoy the serenity of the Palms without any people around.

  9. Looked like a nice hike, despite no poles. Love the cloud pics, very striking!

  10. Learned a long time ago to always bring the poles, despite that looks like you had a good hike. A beautiful spot to enjoy for a bit, very nice pictures.


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