Friday, December 16, 2016

Ghost Mountain

I have this thing for Anza Borrego lately, really, for the desert in general and I'm not sure why. I did a tarot spread recently and it said something about finding peace by going home so maybe that's what it is? What I do know is that I don't feel so afraid out there so I keep going back. I've been particularly intrigued with Hwy S-2 and Blair Valley so I headed up there to check out Ghost Mountain.

I looked up this area on the internet after exploring on a whim a couple days prior. There I learned about Marshal South, a poet and writer, who built a homestead with his artist wife on Ghost Mountain. The family of 5 lived there successfully for about 20 years mostly living off the land but the small amount of money they did make came from Marshal's stories which were published in Desert Magazine.  Marshal South looks like he was a standard desert dude, super eccentric and creative and somehow was doing the hippie thing long before hippies were actually a thing. Here is some awesome Super 8 footage of the family that I found on youtube.

Considering the trail was the only way the family made it up and down the mountain the hiking was easy-ish with only a few difficult spots caused by rocks and slides. As I neared the top the rocks became bigger and more abundant and someone, maybe Marshal South, had built rock steps into the hill and I thought they looked beautiful.


After about a mile I reached the ruins of the home which they named Yaquitepec.  The site looked to be just below the summit and after a few photos I headed up cross county to the summit.


Ghost mountain sits at about 3400ft making it the high-ish desert as was evident by the copious amounts of cholla cactus. On my way up the hill I did some small rock hoping to avoid all things scratchy and pokey and once at the top realized I had arrived at a false summit, also known as the bonus round. The going wasn't too hard and I was feeling good, the day was gorgeous so I pushed on.


I arrived at the highest point on the mountain which was comprised of a boulder with a small rock cairn on top. I poked around the rocks looking for a register box but did not find anything. I pulled up a boulder and dumped the sand out of my shoes while looking over Blair Valley.

Looking a bit too much like my mom here. 0_o

I thought about walking all the way over the other side, but am still trying to break back into hiking shape so I descended the way I came instead. There, I met a man on his way up who told me a bit about Marshall South, specifically, that the family dissolved after Marshal took up with the town librarian in Julian. Marshal! You cad!

I still felt great at the trailhead so I ate some lunch and decided to cruise out to the Pictographs and the Mortreros. I drove out on the dirt road I came in on and veered right toward a series of canyons. I stopped at the Mortreros first and checked out the Kumeyaay kitchen and a cool pictograph by way of a guided tour pamphlet.



I jumped back in the truck and headed to the roads end to check out the pictographs. Once there, I climbed up a small pass into Smuggler's Canyon and followed a million footprints in the wash as they hugged the canyon wall.

If I wasn't paying attention I would have breezed right by it, but there it was, a series of drawings in red paint on a huge boulder. What do they mean? What do any of today's events mean??




I remember reading that there is a cool dry falls at the end of this trail so I followed the footprints down as the canyon narrowed. When I reached the falls I was graced with beautiful views of the desert painted in a golden light.


With the daylight dwindling I headed back the way I came. On the drive home I was happy that I had gone out and put in a day of solid hiking.