Monday, December 30, 2013

My 2013 In Pictures

As this year comes to an end I reflect on all that's happened in my life and look forward to the future, thankful for all I have. Here's to many more adventures in 2014!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Flashback - Early Camping Years & Past Rigs

I recently went through some old photo albums and found some pictures of when I was younger; camping and riding with my family, and past vehicles we've owned that helped get me into the back country. Trips with my parents out to the river and desert are what inspired me to what I love doing now with my own family. Getting away from it all. 

My father with the buggy he build in the 70's out in the Imperial Sand Dunes.

My sister and I, playing in the dirt in Ocotillo.

The motor home and buggy my parents owned in the late 90's out at Gordons Well, Imperial Sand Dunes.

Back in my high school days I would load my three wheeler in the back of my 1980 Isuzu Pup and head out to the dunes. Notice the fishing gear too, I would use at one of the nearby canals.

Loaded up at the Colorado River.

My father, brother, sister, and I camped at the dunes.

The whole family out riding. Good times!

Cruising the beach in Baja with my friends in my 1990 Ford F-150.

With my Honda 250R at Gordons Well SVRA.

Pine Valley, CA

1998 Ford Ranger 4X4, Yuha Desert / U.S./Mexican Border

Somewhere in Baja, Mexico.

Down at our cabin on the river.

San Diego Zoo, December 25th 2013

I have many fond memories as a kid of my parents taking my sister and I to the San Diego Zoo. Now a days, my wife and I enjoy taking our daughter there. I still love the snake house, komodo dragons, and other reptile exhibits. So on Wednesday, December 25th 2013, we met up with my sister, brother-in-law, and their children for a day exploring around our local zoo. 

Here's a photo of my sister and I at the same zoo, back in 1986.

Here's a video of the Komodo Dragon getting a treat.

For more information click here:

2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Carrizo Mountain & Indian Hill

Carrizo Mountain is a hidden gem in our local Southern California desert. The narrow shelf roads up the mountain are only open six months out of the year, from July 1st to December 31st. This provides big horn sheep uninterrupted access into this mountainous habitat. Realistically though, there are only three months out of the year were we humans can recreate on Carrizo Mountain during cooler weather, from October to December. I have on occasion headed up there in my Jeep at night in July and August, but the temperatures still hover in the 90's, even when the sun's down. So I try to spend a weekend out there every December and explore the surrounding areas.  (Above photo by Steve & Tammy.)

On past trips I've searched for petrified wood around Plaster City OHV Area, and explored the ancient fossilized shell beds and historic sites of the Yuha Desert. Click here for some of my past trip reports of this area: 

After working a short day on Friday I loaded up my Jeep and met up with my friend, Steve and his girlfriend Tammy, in Alpine. My wife and daughter would be staying home, which turned out to be a good thing since they both ended up getting sick. Better to be home dealing with that than out roughing it in a tent. 

Heading up Painted Gorge Road and through Plaster City OHV Area.

(Photo by Steve & Tammy)

Approaching the seasonal closure gate.

With an elevation of 2,408 feet, Carrizo Mountain is the highest point along the Coyote Mountains; a small, rocky range situated at the transition between the higher Peninsular ranges of San Diego County, and the lower Imperial Valley and Salton Basin. A main attraction of this range is Painted Gorge, a mile-long segment of the main canyon where the rocks are colored in various shades of red, pink, purple, green, yellow and ochre. The mountains are located in far-southern California not too far from the Mexican border. The range and summit lies within Imperial County, abutting the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
(Photo by Steve & Tammy)

Old mining road winds through Painted Gorge and up into hills to a turn-around about 300 feet below the summit. The badlands and OHV Area below the range extend many miles north and east, and are popular with the off-road racing crowd. It seems few ever venture into Painted Gorge and along the narrow, rocky shelf roads up the mountain.

Although its not too far from civilization, it feels like you're in the middle of nowhere. Its a stark desert, and very peaceful. The mountains feature no significant vegetation other than ocotillo, barrel cactus, creosote and shrubs. Wildlife includes the Peninsular Bighorn Sheep and in warmer weather, snakes.

We arrive to our site a little ways below the summit and begin setting up camp before the sun sets.

 We spend some time around the campfire before turning in for the night. Since we're camped on BLM land and not Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, we don't need a metal container for our fire.

Up early for the sunrise.

My home away from home for the weekend.

Heading down the mountain to check out the Kumeyaay rock art pictographs at Indian Hill in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Of course, we have to take the scenic route along the old 1915 CA 80 Highway...

...and under Interstate 8, along the railroad tracks.

Passing the unsightly wind farm,

Approaching the old Dos Cabezas railroad siding, we came upon mountain bikers, motorcyclist, 4X4's, and other hikers out enjoying the day.

Approaching Indian Hill. I had first heard about Indian Hill and the Blue Sun Cave in Jerry Schad's book Foot & Afield In San Diego County, as well as on a few online forums and blogs. However, I couldn't really find precise directions to the site, which was kind of irritating at first. But now that I've been there and experienced the magic and beauty of this amazing place, I think its a good thing that some effort is required to find it.

Check out these sites for more information on this area:
Daren Sefcik: Indian Hill
DzrtGrls - Indian Hill Pictographs
The Last Adventurer - The Blue Sun Cave

Three "sun" paintings of various colors including the "Blue Sun" which gives the cave its name.

View from the Blue Sun Cave.

Take photos but don't touch anything as it could cause rapid deterioration of the pictographs.

View from the top of Indian Hill.

The hill was surrounded by hundreds of grinding holes, or morteros.

Fire blackened cave at the base of Indian Hill.

One last look before heading back to the trail head.

Shadow of a desert wanderer.

Heading back up the mountain to our camp site.

On the ridge just above our camp is this memorial marker overlooking the desert.

Below the marker was an ammo box with photos and information on the life and history of Donald F. Haskell. 

A little relaxation was had around camp.

Our friends Mitch and Apryl also came out for the day. 

(Photo by Steve & Tammy)

(Photo by Steve & Tammy)

Another evening was spent around the campfire. 

Egg and bacon breakfast burritos were the first order of business Sunday morning.

Taking in the views.

A side trail below our site lead to a few other overlooks and smaller campsites.

Following Steve and Tammy down the mountain.

Before making our way down, we aired down our tires which made for a more comfortable descent along the rocky terrain. 

(Photo by Steve & Tammy)

Another memorial marker found in Painted Gorge. I wouldn't mind my family placing one of these somewhere for me one day.

Heading out Painted Gorge Road towards Evan Hewes Highway (S80).

Crossing the highway, we stop along the old 1915 road to air up and say our goodbyes before heading west towards San Diego and back into civilization. It was a great weekend spent camping and hiking around one of my favorite southern California desert areas.