Monday, February 13, 2017

7 of 52 - Sheep Trails and Indian Gorge

It was stormy all over San Diego and I hoped I could get to Whale Peak to give it a try but alas, the whole Pinon Ridge was drizzly and super windy. I continued on S-2, not really knowing where I was going but enjoyed watching the clouds move fast over a joyously quenched desert.

The road curved next to an outcropping of craggy hills and canyons that looked interesting so I swung my 4Runner onto a dirt road and headed in. Just as I entered the mouth of the canyon I came to some posts blocking off vehicle access. This looked as good a place as any to start my exploration of these box and slot canyons.

I hiked through all of the little tributaries and checked stuff out. Some came to dead ends at dry falls with little plataus above them. I opted not to climb them since the walls of the canyons were really loose and my hip was not feeling very flexible from an arthritis flair up, likely due to the weather. 

While I couldn't get my legs in the position to boulder up the vertical faces of the waterfalls, I decided to try my luck following some Bighorn Sheep trails up the top of the ridge.

I shimmied my way to the top of the hill and found an awesome view on the other side. I sat on a rock at the top and played with Josh's GoPro while inspecting some sheep scat and the buds on some ocotillo plants.


While up on the ridge I scanned the tops of the surrounding hills and noticed what looked like a cardboard box on the hillside. I chalked it up to being trash since there was a beer bottle and shotgun shells tucked in a sandstone nook when I entered the canyon. After descending the ridge I hiked over to retrieve it, but when I arrived I found something more than a cardboard box.

After some research on the internet I learned it is a seismograph and that it has recorded a couple of earthquakes! You can check it out here I'm really glad I didn't touch it or shake it or anything!

After rambling around for a bit I decided to head on and see what else was around that I could poke at with sticks and what not, so I jumped back in the truck and took off. On this little jaunt I only recorded a little less than a mile but that's ok, it was fun to explore. 


I continued deeper into the park and noticed the turn off for Indian Gorge on my right. It looked interesting so I pulled over and consulted my guide book to see what kind of hiking was ahead. I saw there was a good hike at Torote Canyon, which is named after a very rare tree, and reset my trip odometer to match the books instructions before heading down the nicely maintained but narrow dirt road.


The drive through the canyon was fantastic and I pulled off the road at the trailhead. It was high noon and warm with no wind so I slathered on some sunscreen and donned a hat before heading out. The trail climbs gently up a wash and occasional runs into small to moderate sized dry falls that required some scrambling.

It was easy hiking as the canyon narrowed and I noticed a random stick poking out of a hillside. I climbed up to check it out and found an unusual benchmark in the dirt. 


I'm not sure how to read this, are you? It certainly wasn't marking a high point, so all I can think is that its something geology related. I messaged Anza Borrego State Park to get some info but they haven't responded to me yet.

-EDIT-
They responded with this: "A longtime ranger says there are lots of those benchmarks, placed by surveyors, and they show township, range, and section. And the park superintendent elaborates to say: "If the finder looks on a topo [map] they would find the T (Township) numbers on one side and the R (Range) numbers on the other side. The S numbers are sections (640 acres each). So this benchmark shows where 4 sections on the map in that township and range meet – all for a surveyors purpose. That’s a really cool one !" And you'll notice "1959" which indicates it was placed in the year 1959. Good find! I wonder how many more you will come across in your adventures in the park?"

How cool is that?!
Thank you ABDSP, for taking the time to respond to my question so thoroughly!

I continued on the trail until it opened up into a large plateau filled with some of the greenest desert plants I've ever seen.


When I reached a small hill positioned just before a steep canyon I found this marker made out of rocks. I'm not sure what it was pointing to but whatever it was it looked like a suffer fest...I may need to come back and try it. 

My sunglasses decided to break while completely unprovoked sitting on my face.  It was so bright out I decided to cut my trip a little short and hike back to look for a spare set in my truck.

On my hike out I tried to vary my route hoping to see as much of the canyon floor as I could. It paid off and I found this large femur bone in the sand.

As I made my way through the narrow part of the canyon I though about the Kumeyaay and what life was like for them. I entertained the thought that what if one of these boulders is the Rosetta Stone, if you will, for Kumeyaay petroglyph/pictographs but it flipped upside down in a landslide. What if it is right there, the rock you climbed over, or peed on, or leaned up against to eat your lunch, and we'll never know how close we've been to understanding them because Nature has decided to keep it concealed. These are my hiking thoughts. I guess they're the trail's version of a "shower thought".

I made it back to my truck but was sad to find I didn't have a spare set of sunglasses...I have a rock climbing helmet, microspikes and every trail map known to man, but not sunglasses. I wasn't ready to go home so I finished the drive up Indian Gorge and did a little more exploring before heading out. This is a place that deserves an entire day and I definitely intend to go back. My exploration in Indian Gorge was about 2 miles, making the day just 3 miles or so but I feel like I saw a bunch of new things! On to the next!

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