Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Desert Palm Oasis - Borrego sighting

May 20, 2011

It's very quiet this morning.  I awake thinking something is amiss, then realize it's just that the wind has stopped blowing.  For four days we have been buffeted by the incessent wind, only escaping it deep in a canyon hike, or nesstled securely in the protective fan palm trunks of a desert oasis.  I peer out the window at sunrise and see the creososte bushes still and calm, the tall blooming ocotillo stalks, spikes protecting the bright red flowers at the top, standing tall, anad unmoving.  This day looks to be a hot one here in the southern desert.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is a van campers delight.  The rules here permit camping anywhere, and the fire ban precludes ugly firepits scattered about.  Anywhere we can drive, we can stop and camp.  The soil is mostly crushed granite and supports our weight, but then, without warning it can quickly change on these unmarked and undeveloped tracks to sand soft enough even to swollow up an entire wheel up to the axle.  We venture along cautiously, leaving the van parked, proceeding on foot as soon as the way looks dodgy. However, at least, this time of year, there are few other campers about and we have our secluded spots all to ourselves.  Yesterday, we hiked into the desert palm oasis and saw a roadrunner along the way. This dry wash winds up into the rigged hills, and then amazingly, a stream appears around a bend, with a necklace of green ferns lning its banks.  Still further upmcanyon large trunks begin to apear, washed down hill hybsome primoidial floods.  The large palm wood trunks seem to last forever in this climate.  The going gets a bit tougher as the trail gradient becomes steeper and turns to tallus and boulders, then around a corner, we are presented with a fine oasis of 80 foot fan palms denssly packed into the cleft at the bottom of the steep rocky intersecting slopes. One in the palm cluster, the temperature drops 20 degrees, and the wail of the desert wind is blocked, replaced by the trickle of the stream as it winds downhill right at the footnof the majestic stalks.  Birds flit about, making homes up and under the dense palm folliage clinging to the trunks, and in the acachia bushes circling the perimeter down lower.

On our way back down, along the "alternate" trail, we surprize a small herd of borregos, the alpha male tagged and collored, the females and juviniles grazing comfortably nearby.   The tagged and largest bighorn sheep kept a watchful eye on us as we stood frozen watching, and protectively moved between us and the herd as they moved as a group across the slope below us.

Once back in town, we stopped off at the town library (behind the mail mall) that conveniently has a wireless internet hub that reaches outside to the shaded benches.  While uploading my blog and photos, Diane stopped at the grocery store for provisions, and carried back two soft ice cream cones along with the bulging bags of dry goods.  Evreythng is quite close at this central hub of town. On our way out of town, we stopped off at the American Legion Post 852, and used their dump station to drain our tanks ($5), a real value these days. We were tempted to join the three friendly, but somewhat crusty desert rats cozied up to the dark bar at the post, but opted instead to drive west, and into the sunset in search of further adventures.

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