High Desert and Big Rocks

We’re back from Wolf Mountain Sanctuary in the Mojave Desert.

wolf mountain sanctuary I’ll post about our experience at the sanctuary, but it was mostly sad. Sad that these magnificent creatures NEED to be rescued. Sad that they can’t roam free, sad they’re hunted, tortured, hated. They are among the most intelligent and evolved species. How dare we destroy them. Sad. Very sad.

On the way home, we stopped at an amazing outcropping of rocks for a  little hike and picnic lunch.
mohave1 mohave2 The Mojave Desert is also known as the High Desert because of its elevation.mohave3 Blue sky and rocks.mohave4 Ick.mohave5 mohave6 mohave7 LOVE this pic.mohave8 Rock climber Not me.mohave9 mohave10 mohave11#highdesert #mojave #desert #wolves #hiking

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Nature versus Destruction

But really a post about the desert.

“We pretended that we were the only humans on earth, trekking across an eerie but strangely exciting landscape. It was silent except for an occasional far off bird or the buzzing of a fly. We ate quietly, not speaking, not needing chatter to fill up the silence, until the lack of sound completely settled in around us and we could feel the warm earth beneath our legs anchoring us to this special place.” December 7, 2014

17 Palms Oasis: Hiking with Princess Rosebud and Her Tugboat Man in the Anza-Borrego State Park.

We’ve learned so much from my son.

I may have taught him to discover the world through books, but he returned the lesson by opening our world through boots.

As in hiking, walking, exploring the beauty of land and nature.

About ten years ago, he gave us the best gift ever, Jerry Schad’s Afoot & Afield in San Diego County. We’ve been avid hikers and campers ever since. Sadly, Jerry died in 2011, but his spirit lives on in his every step that we follow and in his love for the backcountry.

A favorite destination for solitude is Anza-Borrego State Park.

Right now as i’m home, typing in the family room with the patio doors wide open, I don’t hear a single bird, not like we did not so long ago. My bird houses lay fallow; unused, no chirping of hungry babies.

Empty nests.

What I do hear, however, is disquietude — the relentless sound of heavy earth movers raping more land in my town, leveling a previously beautiful little hillside, killing all the native plants and displacing the rabbits, coyotes, raccoons, bobcats. Do we really need 1200 more homes? Can we really afford more water and energy consumption, more negative impact on our already overpopulated coastal town?

Here’s our view from the deck, taken with my long lens, beyond Santa and his reindeer.SANTABACKHOE

We fought for years against this egregious overbuilding; this time we lost.

There’s not enough open space; our sojourns to the mountains or the desert are even more precious and as necessary to our personal survival as water and air.

This time we chose to explore 17 Palms Oasis.

Tip #1: It would be a good idea to have a four-wheel drive to get there.

We don’t, but tugboat man’s truck is pretty sturdy so we did OK, but keep in mind there are some really sandy spots.

Tip #2: Carry a shovel just in case, and of course lots of water, even in winter.

17 Palms Oasis, 5 Palms Oasis and Una Palma. 

These areas are well-known watering holes for the regional wildlife of the Borrego Badlands. The palms at both Oases are often green and brilliant compared to the stark and barren desert that surrounds them.

They’ve attracted humans for thousands of years.

Nomadic aborigines, wayfaring emigrants, and determined prospectors have all taken shade and water from these islands in the badlands.

Remnants of a time when grasslands, streams, and herds of camels and mammoths covered an ancient landscape, the native palms exist today only because water surfaces here.

As the spring here was unreliable, early travelers with extra water would leave it in large glass jars. Thirsty visitors came to rely on the jars hidden in the shade of the palms. The desert wanderers would leave notes attached to the jars. Today the custom of leaving messages in the prospector’s post office is carried on by visitors. In the post office barrel hidden in the 17 Palms, among the palm tree bases, lies a visitor’s log book, notes and of course, bottles of water!

The 17 Palms area is located off of the S-22. Take the Arroyo Salado Primitive Campground turnoff, travel approx. 3.6 miles on Arroyo Salado Wash to the Seventeen Palms Turnoff which puts you on Tule Wash (you will see a small sign with arrow heading West (right) and travel another 0.2 miles to the 17 Palms parking area. To visit the 5 Palms Oasis continue past Seventeen Palms on Tule Wash to arrived at the Parking area for 5 Palms. Una Palma can be reached by walking over the ridges of the 17 and 5 Palms locations. Or you can go right on Cut Across Trail to arrive at the Una Palma Location.

17palmssign

I think I counted all seventeen palms, but couldn’t locate the oasis ‘cos of our drought.

17palmspalms2 It’s pretty spectacular to see palm trees in the middle of the desert badlands.17palmspalms

Lots of mud as this was once a seafloor. Weird rocks, randomly placed.

17palmsrocks

Exactly how this rock was stuck in the mud!
17palmsrickmud

Ocotillo.

17palmsocotilo 17palmsocotillo2 Mud.17palmsmud1 Una Palma.

17palmsunapalma

Narrow wash.

17palmsmudThe beautiful but stark and naked badlands. Our view as we stopped for lunch.17palmsbadlands2We set off cross country as there’s no real trail. We pretended that we were the only humans on earth, trekking across an eerie but strangely exciting landscape.

It was silent except for an occasional far off bird or the buzzing of a fly. We ate quietly, not speaking, not needing chatter to fill up the silence, until the lack of sound completely settled in around us and we could feel the warm earth beneath our legs anchoring us to this special place.17palmsbadlandsIt was warm, almost too hot at eighty degrees. Being out here in the summer at more than a hundred degrees with no shade would be an extreme hardship.17palmsbadlands3Ahhh…a refreshing cup of ginger tea at the end of a dusty hike. Good times! Angel Boy got tugboat man a JetBoil, an absolutely amazing gift– boiling water in about a minute.17palmsjetboil

Driving home as the sun sets. 17palms

Back to reality.

And back to being alone, as my tugboat man left again, but only for two short weeks, hopefully home on the 22nd, fingers crossed.

Take time to actively experience nature. Walk, hike, breathe in all of the beauty of the wild. It’s healing and restorative.

The Princess Guide to Camping

Yawn. Stretch. Sore.
It was grueling. But so much fun.

My tugboat man suggested a quick overnight camping trip to the Anza-Borrego desert because a NW swell was supposed to hit our little beach town on Sunday, the same day as the Mavericks surf contest in Northern Calfornia.

We left on Friday so we could hike during the day, camp at night, and hike again on Saturday before heading home.

From a few of the COMMENTS I received on my previous “Desert Solitude” post, SOME of you think I am incapable of “roughing it”.  I am very offended by your lack of faith in my chameleon-like ability to adapt to all environments.

SOME OF YOU are under the WRONG assumption that a girl who thinks she’s a princess of seashells–enchanted seashells no less–spends her days tottering around the mall on six-inch heels and shops all day with her Chanel on her itty bitty arm, stopping only for a nourishing bite of sushi before heading home to bake and clean compulsively. And create seashell bouquets.

Actually, now that I’ve written it, that sounds pretty damn accurate!

MOST of the time.

But there’s another side to this petite princess.

Although I confess to adore my creature comforts, I love to hike and camp. I love outdoor adventures.

Here’s how I marry the two sides of my personality. It’s not exactly glamping–glamorous camping, but it’s my way to experience the beauty of nature.

I call it…

The Princess Guide to Camping

  • A backpack is of primary importance, not only because you want to be able to carry important items like lots and lots of toilet paper and water, but it makes a statement about who you are.

We went to REI on Thursday because I needed a new daypack. Since I’m short even for short women, a youth pack fits me better than an adult sized pack. I got an Osprey Youth Jet 18 in grey and red. It’s super comfortable. This is a Made in the USA company.backpack harrodsbag

  • I carry the essentials: a Yale/Hello Kitty water bottle, small size Chanel perfume(Chance), and Kiehls Vitamin C cream.** I pack a LOT of tp. I can’t emphasize that enough. Gurrrlz, we don’t want to run out. We. do. not. Since you’re not supposed to throw it on the ground when you’re done using it–the whole “Pack it in, pack it out” mentality–remember to take a plastic bag just for that purpose.
  • And I love my Nivea. I usually use a travel container, but couldn’t find it, so I’m showing the larger size as an example.
  • In the Louis Vuitton makeup case, I carry lipstick (also Chanel), a half dozen or so different types of lip balm, a mirror that is one side actual and one side magnified (also good to use if you get lost and need to signal the rescue helicopter), my new Cha Cha wallet, Altoids,  and a miniature flashlight to light my way to pop a squat at night.
  • The sparkly Harrods case (a gift from DIL) carries a minimum amount of makeup. I always bring an eyeliner, brow pencil, highlighter and blush all-in-one, and tweezers. How embarrassing would it be to have an errant hair or two sprout up in an unsightly location? I know, right? Well, be prepared. Better safe than sorry. You never know who you’re gonna meet. I know someone who met Elton John at the Yosemite Lodge. What a nightmare it would be if he noticed that a little plucking was needed!!
  • Also in my pack, I carry my glasses and contact lens solution, camera, and phone. Oh, and a pair of gloves. Usually two. One to keep warm and the other as protection against the ravages of dust, dirt, and rocks. Rock climbing wreaks havoc with a chicka’s manicure. Very unpleasant. Very. **Tip: coat your nails with a quality clear glaze–I like OPI–because the chips won’t show, and you’ll be somewhat protected.

That’s about it for my load.

Hubs carries everything else: lots more water, our lunch, snacks, first aid kit, and rope. (And when my pack starts to bother me and/or I get tired and all whiny and cranky, he carries mine, too.) We always have a few packets of Emergen-C, protein powder, and sardines. I know what you’re thinking. You either love canned sardines or you hate them, but they’re a great source of protein. I buy the kind in water, unless it’s for my son who needs a lot more fat in his diet ‘cos he has such an efficient metabolism.

I think hubs carries rope just ‘cos he’s a mariner, but I’m not sure. Or maybe he’s anticipating the day I get too scared of heights or I get hurt and he has to pull me down a mountain. Either way, I don’t have to carry it!

  • These are the best. I cut them in half because I’m a thrifty gal (haha) but these are thecleansingcloth BEST for all over body cleansing.
  • Use a lot of good quality sunscreen. We used a 50+. Hubs carries it ‘cos it’s too heavy and I don’t have room for stuff like that.
  • Good hiking boots are invaluable. bootspolesI’ve had these for about five years and they fit like a glove. We both use trek poles, and it’s really helped me navigate through rocky terrain and hills, plus you burn extra calories, so it’s all good.
  • I rock hiking pants with all the little pockets and velcro. This time it’s not really for anything but practicality. The pockets are great for lip balm and if they’re sturdy, you can easily slide down a part of the trail that might be too difficult to navigate standing up.

I slide A LOT.

  • We have our favorite camp dinner; burritos with refried beans mixed with a can of tuna fish (sodium free), freshly made guacamole, and low fat cheddar cheese. I cook it all up on the camp stove while hubs heats the tortillas over the fire, and it is SOOO satisfying after a long hike.  I brought the avocados, onion, cilantro, and tomatoes, and made the guac right there on our little table. I prepared a few extra burritos and wrapped them individually in aluminum foil for lunch the following day. With apples, pears,  oranges, and crudite,  it was a healthy meal on the trail.
  • Bring a lot of clothes. No, really. You never know what you might need and the weather could change unexpectedly. This time, I brought a down jacket, scarf, gloves, two hats, two pairs of hiking socks, two pairs of regular socks, a few long sleeved shirts, Ugg-style boots for around the camp, two sweatshirts, and underwear. So it was a lot, whatever. We weren’t hauling everything on our backs–we were driving in a truck, and I like to be prepared. A good sun/hiking hat is ESSENTIAL!
  • A helpful tip is to always carry nuts and raisins. We like raw almonds and cashews and dried fruit, too. On a long hike, a couple of handfuls give you the energy you need to continue without whining–and by YOU I mean ME.
We're here!

We’re here!

First stop!

First stop!

We found a remote spot of Anza to set up camp. I’m not telling where it is, ‘cos we want to keep it a secret. There aren’t too many places that aren’t filled up with RVs and dune buggies when all we’re after is a little solitude and nature. After we set up the tent, we hiked about six miles.View from our secret campsite

View from our secret campsite

Since it looks like the captain probably won’t be here for our 19th wedding anniversary in February, I thought we’d have an early commemoration of the event. betterrockheart

The night was clear and crisp. We left the tent open to see the stars but the temp dropped to the low thirties and we FROZE.

It was so awesome.

COYOTES
From the moment the sun set to the next morning when it rose, we were serenaded by coyotes-in stereo–all around us–an astounding diversity of beautiful, haunting, melodious animal communication. It was heavenly.

The high was 78 degrees, the low hovered around 35.  That’s thirty-five bone chilling degrees.

It was almost too cold to sleep even though we have an inflatable queen-sized bed in our huge tent. The tent is so big, it’s like a mini-house. We’re talking princess-style, don’t forget. And check out the sun shower-OF COURSE I have a shower! A princess needs to be fresh at all times, right? Hidden inside the shower is a….TOILET! Ha ha! I don’t always run behind a bush and pop.

tablecampstove

A tent fit for a princess!

sunshower:toilet

Of course a shower is essential!

Wine, leave-in spray

Wine, leave-in conditioner, perfume

AND, in case you’re wondering, I do help set up. Just a little.

If you’ve never done so,  put it on your wish list to spend a night or two under the stars in the desert. There is such an overwhelming amount of mystical legend and lore–you really need to check it out for yourself!

Sunrise

The sunrise was magnificent!

hawkorgoldeneaglefeather

A hawk feather we found on the slot canyon hike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t want to bore anyone with a zillion pics, but they really are spectacular–if you have the time, take a few minutes to scroll through.

Photo Gallery of first six-mile hike around the campsite.

Photo Gallery of day two six-mile hike: a slot canyon at Coachwhip Canyon.

Photo Gallery of last stop at Font Pt.

Photo Gallery of trail treasures.