Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2010 BorregoFest Prerun

Sept. 2010 BorregoFest Prerun

[I really am new to this whole blogging thing. I'm not even sure I'm set on the name here. Anyway, my main reason for starting this is to keep track of (and share) all my outdoor adventures, rather than having to search through various forums for my trip reports. So I'm gonna try to keep this updated as much as I can.]

I work nights, usually from 4pm to 12:30am. So when I have plans for the next day that start early I may or may not get any sleep. On Tuesday September 28th, 2010 I had plans to be ready to head out to Anza-Borrego at 5am with Ollie for a prerun for one of the routes he'll be leading for an event put on by Outdoor Adventure USA.

So with about three hours of sleep to get me through the rest of the long day that awaited me, I climbed aboard Ollie's FJ Cruiser looking forward to some time spent in the desert.

In Alpine we pick up another passenger, Paul, a coworker of Ollie's. Soon we arrive in Julian to meet up with Dave in his H2 Hummer and Sean in his Toyota FJ Cruiser. During the warmer months I prefer to ride along with a group in the desert rather than dealing with the heat in my open air Jeep. The next one will definitely have a/c.

 For the first part of out trip we head past the small mountain town of Julian, down Banner Grade on hwy 78 to the Chariot and Rodriguez Canyon trail head. Following Dave takes us to the Right Fender Ranch where we get to check out some old mining equipment. Dave leads a mine tour during this event in the Oriflamme and Rodriguez Canyon areas that is exclusive to us and is limited on the amount who can attend. He actually has permission to take folks into these mines and, on a few of them, get the history and information about the mines from the owners themselves. It's quite an opportunity.

Parked at the entrance of the Right Fender Ranch.

Heading out to check on some old mining equipment.

I think I'm starting to wake up a bit now.

 Stuff from 1896.

If you wander around here without permission, you're likely to get a shotgun stuck in your face...

Intersection of Rodriguez Canyon and Pacific Crest Hiking Trail.

Sean had a bit of a problem with one of his gas cans.

Looks like the trail is a little rutted out.

Lots of vegetation through this section of Oriflamme Canyon Trail.

After exploring the ranch for a bit, we continue on down Rodriguez Canyon, through a few rocky areas. Reaching the bottom on the canyon we make a sharp right up another trail to Oriflamme Canyon, which takes us back to where we started in Banner. Dave parts ways with us and we head on down the highway to the S2 and reach the campsite that will host the BorregoFest event. Its under new management and has undergone a few improvements. After checking in with the owner we hit the road again and soon find the entrance to Canyon Sin Nombre. From here we actually run the route backwards to Vallecito Creek Wash, Arroyo Seco Del Diablo Canyon and into Fish Creek/Split Mountain, along the railroad tracks skirting Fish Mountain (now on BLM managed land), under a trestle and into Carrizo Wash. A designated wilderness area (hate those) and closed bombing range pushes us onto a long trail with some gnarly whoop-tee-doo's. This is probably one of the most remote areas of the Anza-Borrego/Yuha Desert. You are alone out here. 

Eventually we pick up the trail that takes us up the backside of Carrizo Mountain. This area contains some of my favorite network of trails. The old mining roads can be narrow, rocky, and steep. The views from the summit provide great sights into Mexico, the Yuha Desert, Superstition Mountains, Salton Sea, and other surrounding areas.

View of the Carrizo Badlands from the entrance of Canyon Sin Nombre off Hwy S2.

The varied geology in Canyon Sin Nombre gives good insight into the folding and faulting layers in the Carrizo Badlands.

We come across many partially collapsed canyon walls along the way. 

Always camp well away from the canyon walls.

Arroyo Seco Del Diablo Canyon.

Coming down Diablo Drop-off.

Time for lunch!

Another collapse in Fish Creek Wash.

At this point in our trip the batteries in my camera died. Fortunately, I have photos from Ollie and Sean to share here as well. 

Here are a few pictures from Ollie.
(From top to bottom: Diablo Drop-off, Fish Creek Wind Caves, Carrizo Wash railroad bridge, and near the summit of Carrizo Mountain)

Sean was also gracious enough to share the outstanding pictures he took along our trip (and to let me ride shotgun for awhile).

(From top to bottom: Sunrise over Laguna Mountains, Right Fender Ranch, Arroyo Seco Del Diablo Canyon, Highway S2, Anza-Borrego Desert, Split Mountain, and near the top of Carrizo Mountain.)

All and all, it turned out to be a great day out in out local deserts, even though I was only a passenger. With the recent record temperatures we've been experiencing around town (115 degrees!), it was actually cooler in the desert. But not cool enough for me to take the Jeep out. I'll give it a few more weeks. I still need to get out and prerun one more area for the upcoming BorregoFest event in October. Not sure if I'll be able to get any hunting in before then but I'll just have to see how everything plays out. October is going to be a busy month! 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Upper Coyote Canyon & Toro Peak (Santa Rosa Mtn)

Nov. 2009 - Upper Coyote Canyon & Toro Peak

This weekend turned out to be much more than even I expected! Good times! We enjoyed a variety of terrain and scenery, from sandy desert trails and boulder-strewn washes to pine-shaded, rocky mountain climbs. I may have also pushed the old YJ to its limits on a few obstacles. Anyway, I met up with BlueFJ (Craig) in Escondido on the way up to Anza. After grabbing a few breakfast burritos in town we were soon making our way down the trail into Coyote Canyon and on towards Bailey's Cabin to set up camp. I was planning to just stay in the cabin but didn't feel like killing the small family of mice that had made their home in an old coleman stove, so I just set up my tent real quick.

Before exploring the rest of the area in our rigs, we decided to park a little ways over by the closure fence and hike down through upper willows for a bit. We actually followed a vehicle's tire tracks all the way down. You could see where there was a break in that part of the fence. Well, not a fence, just a few wooden post and logs stuck in the ground a few feet apart. I don't know if it was just some hooligan going off the trail or if it was a park ranger, maybe patrolling the area. In any case, we followed what used to be the vehicle trail down a ways, before it was closed off around 1995 (I think). It didn't look all that different from the areas there that you are allowed to drive. The State Park Service could very easily reopen that section of Coyote Canyon without causing any damage to any sensitive resource area.

Anyway, we then drove through Alder Canyon and then up into Horse Canyon to test our rigs and skill on some of the tough obstacles there. Craig and I both ended up needing to use the recovery strap. You know you're having fun when you get stuck every now and then! Towards the back of the canyon we ran into David (inVERt'D on who had been with me on my last run through here. He lives right there in Anza so we had plans to meet up again the next day and head on over to Santa Rosa Mountain and make our way up to Toro Peak via Sawmill Trail. We made it back to camp at sunset and we're soon enjoying conversation and drinks by the campfire.

The sign near the beginning of the trail. It needs to be updated, as the trail down the shelf road is no longer difficult at all.

Start of the long descent down Coyote Canyon. Tule Canyon Wash comes in from the right.

Native Americans made winter camps in this area and processed their foods in these mortar beds.

Bailey's Cabin.

The Anza Monument.

"Near this spot on christmas eve, 1775, was born one of California's first white children, Salvador Ignacio Linares. His mother, senora Gertrudis Linares, was a member of the colonizing expedition of Juan Bautista De Anza from western Mexico to Alta California. Here in Coyote Canyon, the child was baptized on christmas day.

Marker placed by California Centennials Commission. Base furnished by roads to romance association INC. 1950."

Lots of water in Alder Canyon.

More Native American mortero beds on the way up to Horse Canyon.

The next day we broke camp and rolled into town where we aired and gassed up. David soon joined us in his very capable red TJ Wrangler. From here on, it would be my first time through this next trail that snaked its way up the Santa Rosa Mountains. From hwy 371 we turned east on the 74 to the Sawmill trail head, where we aired down. Now this trail has some very steep, rocky, off-camber climbs that I would consider one of the most difficult trails I've been on. In fact, that's where I blew out one of my rear shocks! :o This route eventually came to an end at the easy Santa Rosa Mountain Trucktrail. From the top we had clear views of Palm Springs, the Salton Sea and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Being on the mountain reminded me of northern California and Big Bear. When summer rolls around again and it gets too hot for the deserts here, that's where I'll be headed!