Sunday, February 26, 2017

11 of 52 - Carrizo Gorge

I drove out of town on a gorgeous morning. The sun lit up clouds that told of a storm off the coast. Luckily the storm would bypass San Diego but unfortunately for Josh it was headed right for his destination in the Sierra. I used the inclement weather to my advantage and asked if he wanted to accompany me to Anza Borrego. With two trucks we could go further and on more difficult terrain than we might feel comfortable doing solo.

He agreed and we headed east toward the city of Ocotillo with trucks full of water and supplies 

Our first destination was Carrizo Gorge. This road is sketchy at best and I felt much more comfortable navigating it knowing we could pull each other out if need be. We arrived at the trailhead around 9am and the journey had given me new confidence in my truck and its abilities.


I'm still on this archaeology kick and my research of Kumeyaay artifacts on the internet led me to photos of  a collection of pictographs that are supposed to be somewhere in the gorge. I was pretty sure that even with the limited information available on the internet I could sniff them out.  We started at the first set of boulders and combed our way around looking in all the nooks and crannies for interesting things while working our way down the canyon.

The sun was hot on our skin while the air was cool, making things kind of uncomfortable; if you stood in the shade you were cold, but in the sun you were sweaty. Right off the bat we noticed signs of immigrant travels in the form of water caches and discarded clothing. I tried to imagine what fresh hell this canyon would be without adequate supplies as a weary immigrant, not to mention the bummer of enduring the gnarly bushwhack only to get caught by border patrol on the highway. It just sounds like a rough trip, regardless of your politics.

As a well equipped hiker though, this canyon was intensely beautiful! I scanned the rocky mountains for signs of bighorn but was only lucky enough to spot a couple of hawks hanging on the currents. 

As we continued poking around the canyon we came to a good bit of water in the creek. It was flowing slowly but there was still a lot of algae coating the surface where the stream became tangled in the rocks. In the distance we could see several of the Impossible Railroad's trestles curving around the mountain.

After climbing around the gorge we finally found the correct cave and it was everything I thought it would be and more. The vibe was palpable and the pictographs vibrant and moody. I sat for a long time taking them in and taking a gazzilion photos which I'll post below. What a real treat this place is and that is why I'm not going to tell anyone where it is! If you do happen to find it, I hope you don't tell anyone either.











After a while Josh and I took to exploring the labyrinth within the cave system. There were so many awesome shelters and potential places where pictographs may exist. We took photos of the rock to load into the Dstretch program in hopes it will show us images our eyes were unable to detect.



I loved seeing these seedlings growing in the recesses of this cave. With only a tiny bit of soil and sun they found it hospitable enough to lay down roots. Nature is amazing.

In the areas surrounding the cave system we spotted morteros and a yoni.


 After thoroughly exploring the area we decided to move on down the canyon to see if we could get to Goat Canyon where the largest of the railroad trestles are. Josh and I have been to the trestle via the tracks and Mortero canyon but never from below. 

We traversed the sludgy creek which I named the bog of eternal stench and tried to avoid getting the bugs surrounding it in our mouths.

After some cross country we came to an actual trail! It was wonderful and seeing Josh from this perspective made me nostalgic for the PCT. 

As the walls narrowed the canyon got hotter. We passed a small cave and decided to take advantage of its shade for a break. While looking around for potential Kumeyaay artifacts Josh spotted some trash. I pulled it out from behind a rock so we could pack it out and realized it was more evidence of immigrant travels. The bottles had been left there very recently and I felt grateful I was not alone.  I'm not judgmental of the immigrants in the least but I am cautious of the coyotes that guide them because sometimes they are armed. Really, I guess I'm cautious of anyone who has undergone such a strenuous trip. You just don't know what kind of situation they're in, maybe they're fine and will just breeze right by or maybe they're near the edge and desperate. I imagine if I was out here, desperate for water, food or supplies and happened upon a solo hiker I would definitely size them up. Maybe my homicide investigator father has just made me paranoid, I dunno. Either way, I was glad Josh was here, I miss being around him but don't tell him that, well just keep with the bodyguard story for now. 

We hiked as far as we could before the canyon was choked with reeds and catclaw. Josh had found a tick on his thigh during a break which made us overly cautious about the brush so we decided to turn back before we made it to goat canyon. Next time long pants and sleeves will be mandatory.

On the way toward the trail head we marveled at how green everything was! We found quite a bit of Sahara Mustard, which I googled when I got home and saw that we had also seen a type of stink bug that is an invasive species on our hike. I guess this invasive stink bug feeds on the invasive plant! I don't know why but it tickles me that we saw both! 

Once back at the truck we ate some snacks and scanned the hills for signs of life. I brought a jar of pickles in an ice chest for our car camping adventure and it turned out to be a marvelous treat! If theres one thing I learned from the PCT its that salt is my friend on sweaty desert hikes. We packed up as the sun neared the horizon and headed east toward Dos Cabezas to camp and plan the next days adventure.

We set up next to a spring and I made trail pizza which we ate with ice cold 7up spiked with vodka while listening to Bob Marley and the sounds of croaking frogs echo against the hills. I love car camping and I love Anza Borrego and I love...well, that's enough love for now.

4 comments:

  1. Love this trip! I'd love to do this and also want to see the trestles. Great post!

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  2. Carrizo Gorge is the best, glad you found the pictos.....there are more if you keep looking...8-)

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    1. I could feel that there were more around! I can't wait to go back!

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