Sunday, January 31, 2010

Anza Borrego & Ocotillo Wells OHV Area - Jan. 2010

Well, I was lucky enough to get out of the house and head on out to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with a few guys over at the SCUFF ( and Outdoor Adventure USA ( forums.

You know you're having a good time when you get stuck or break something every now and then. We had a good time! With the weather the way it was around town, I wasn't sure how it would be out over the desert. However, we were greeted with blue skys and beautiful conditions. All of the washes had been, well, washed out. There was no dust as we had to cut new trails through the canyons and washes that had been smoothed out by all the water.

Most of the group met up just south of Ocotillo off Interstate 8 at a gas station that was unfortunatly, out of gas. The rest met up at the trailhead to Canyon Sin Nombre. From there we headed to Valliceto Wash and into Arroyo Seco Del Diablo Canyon towards the dropoff.

While traveling through the canyon I made the mistake of not staying on the hard-packed sand and nearly got stuck in the mud. The county had been recently hit by several big storms and all the canyons and washes throughout the desert had been smoothed out by all the water flowing through. I had been running in 2WD the whole time until I came upon a section of very soft mud/sand in Arroyo Seco Del Diablo Canyon. I had just made it out when the FJ Cruiser and one of the Wagons got stuck. A few tugs with the recovery straps had them out in no time. However, I would still not finish this run unharmed...

A lot of the rocks down past Diablo Dropoff had been filled in with sand so it was easy going through Broken Shaft Gultch, I guess is what it's called now. After coming out Split Mountain we got fuel down the highway and then headed out to Devil's Slide in Ocotillo Wells OHV Area. There was lots of water and mud that had to be dodged along the way. When we had all lined up on the dune I noticed that something wasn't quite right with my Jeep. The front right shackles holding the spring to the frame had been busted off. So with a little help from the High-Lifts I took one of the good shackles from the driver's side to support the passenger side. With the strength of the shackles now cut in half I limped on out to the 78 and made it back home without any further issues. It was another great day spent wheelin' out in the desert, in conditions we don't often see.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Exploring the Jacumba Mountains

Jacumba Mountains Run (Elliot Mine/Smuggler's Cave/Mountain Springs Stagecoach Trail)
Jan. 2010

I set out for a run with a few guys over at With two FJ's and two Jeeps (YJ & JK) we moved along pretty good. After meeting up at the gas stations in Jacumba we cruised along Hwy 80 and then south down a dirt road towards the border fence. Once we had aired down, it was on up the narrow, rocky shelf road to several peaks that gave outstandings views of the surrounding areas. We had clear views out to Superstition Mountain, Salton Sea, Imperial Sand Dunes and Chocolate mountains.

Soon we had made it up Elliot Mine to take in the views of Valley Of The Moon and explore a few of the mines. Afterwards, we parked down the trail a ways and made the short walk to the Smuggler's Cave. There a quite a few interesting rock formations there that make for fun exploring. It was getting later in the afternoon so we wanted to get down the trail and across the freeway so we could run the Mountain Springs Stagecoach Trail. We made it past the Border Patrol who eyed us suspiciously, under the freeway, past Table Mountain to the trailhead.

This trail has some very tight, rocky, and off-camber sections that must be carefully negotiated. Once you make your way to the bottom of the grade you'll see some stone riuns.

Here's a few links describing the area. And a few pics I found. The last two pictures show a trail in the area way back when and then with my Jeep much more recently.

"It was long a haven to Indians, pioneers, muleteers and stage coach passengers. Colonel Kearney bivouacked here during the Mexican American War. There are still ruins at Mountain Spring. Not the ruins of the original stage coach station, but a later lay-over station for freight wagons. When they cut Interstate 8 through this area in the early 1960’s, Mountain Spring actually got more isolated, even as it became an easy sight from west-bound traffic from the four thousand feet from the desert floor."