Our post Thanksgiving trip out to Anza Borrego has become an annual affair that we really look forward to. This year we invited Linda and the plan was to meet Jan, Gina, Mike and crew out in Carrizo Gorge.
Amazingly we were on the road by 8AM on an overcast Friday morning. We (Bob, Mary, Diesel and Sadie) in the BJ70 and Linda, Kaiel and Jake in her Honda CRV. Being the courteus drivers we are, we told Linda to go on ahead to Ocotillo. It is no fun driving 40 mph behind a BJ70 sucking in diesel fumes once the hills start.
Once we dropped down the pass into Ocotillo the weather cleared and we were greeted with bright blue, sunny desert skies. While I love the flowers of Spring, early Winter out in Anza Borrego is one of my favorite times to journey out here. The temperatures are amazing and the air is crisp and clear.
Somehow we arrived in Ocotillo ahead of Linda, which probably had something to do with the starving teenage boys begging her to stop at Subway in Jacumba. Once Linda caught up with us at the trailhead we headed down the canyon to our secret campsite.
I had expected to see at least a few people camping due to all the desert bound traffic, but the place was deserted.
We had barely begun to set up camp when the familiar sound of Jan's HJ60 Diesel LandCruiser came reverberating up the canyon. Behind him was Michael in his right-hand drive diesel Troopy followed by Chris, Clodagh and Jeff in their Hondas.
Once everyone settled in we cranked up the rooftop tents, setup the chairs, tables and prepped the fire ring. Some opted to sit and have a drink while a few of the group hiked up the canyon with the dogs.
As the sun began to dip the smell of grilled turkey began to permeate the campsite. The night was spent around the camp fire enjoying a delicious meal and great conversation.
Things started off a bit slow the next morning so Michael put together an awesome breakfast that would put any caterer to shame. Actually he even had one of those catering metal food containers to keep everything warm. After breakfast we all said our goodbyes. Part of the group was heading home via a short detour to the Salton Sea, while Linda was heading back with the boys after a short trip to the palms at Bow Willow.
Mary and I opted to spend another night out in the desert with Diesel (our Rhodesian Ridgeback).The next morning we headed north up S2 in an attempt to find Ghost Mountain and Yaquitepec. With a map this is easy but unfortunately I lent my map to the Salton Sea group so we only had the sporatic iPhone to guide us. Luckily once we got closer to Blair Valley the iPhone got a signal and we were able to use the built in maps to find Ghost Mountain.
Marshall South and Ghost Mountain
I had heard the story of Marshal and Tanya South who, back in the 30's, carved an existence out of this rugged landscape. Yaquitepec was the name they gave to their adobe homestead on top of this windswept peak, and it would be their home for 17 years. In that time they lived off the land in much the same way the Kumeyaay Indians of the area did. They were finally forced out in 1945 by the Navy, but in that time raised three children and authored close to 100 articles for "Desert Magazine".
I simply had to check this out ! The hike up to the site is only about a mile but it is a decent climb up a switchback. I ended up running up the trail since Mary was waiting with Diesel at the car. Sorry no dogs are allowed on the trail.
The ruins are pretty amazing and you get a really good feel for what it must have been like to live up here. The views of the surrounding desert are incredible. As I began running back down the switchback to the waiting Landcruiser, I thought to myself "Hmm maybe I should sell off a couple of my 4x4s".
Until next time,