The one destination I had in mind for this year in Borrego Springs was the Split Mountain & Wind Cave drive. We had tried that last year with our 2 wheel drive Hyundai Santa Fe but I wasn’t comfortable in the loose gravely sand & turned around a few minutes after we had started.
VENTURING INTO SPLIT MOUNTAINS SANDSTONE CANYON
With our days running down here in the Springs we decided to do the Split Mountain drive Tuesday morning so off we went. That is after we filled up the Jeeps gas tank with a load of $3.95 a gallon California gas of course!! Like so many others I quickly shoved my head back in the sand & just pretended the price at the pump never really happened!! Oh how gullible we the traveling public are & oh how easy it is to let ourselves be repeatedly fooled……over & over & over & over!!
THESE LARGE SANDSTONE FORMATIONS ARE KNOWN AS ‘ELEPHANTS KNEES’
Twenty minutes later we were rolling through the little ‘off road dirt capital’ of Ocotillo Wells. This place is a whole story in itself. Ten minutes south of the Wells we turned off the payment & entered a sandy wash heading for Split Mountain. Both hard & soft sand strewn with small sporadic rock piles. The Wind Caves are about 4 miles in after winding around through high towering sandstone Canyon walls. Had we not noticed the small Wind Caves sign we would have bumped right on by it.
The book we had with us said there was a steep rocky climb at the beginning of the hike to the caves. That was not good news for Kelly’s knee but being the trooper she is she grabbed a walking stick & we walked over to the trail head. The book was right & the steep trail was strewn with enough rocks & boulders to challenge a Big Horn Sheep. Kelly tried her best to move up the trail but after a hundred feet or so she knew her knee would never be able to handle the trail & especially the coming down part which is always the hardest & most treacherous. Kelly wisely chose to not continue & made her way back to the Jeep to do some reading.
I continued up the steep rocky incline & could quickly see where Kelly’s knee had no chance of doing the trail. As usual I was overdressed & carrying a couple heavy cameras only added to my sweating. Knowing Kelly was waiting I cracked on some speed & scurried along the path like a little Pack Rat after a bad night out.
MY FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE WIND CAVES BOTTOM RIGHT PHOTO
The higher I climbed the more breathtaking the views became. A ridge of snow topped mountains lay on the horizon many miles to the west. Closer in I recognized a huge formation of rock & sandstone known as the Elephant’s Knees. Standing on the trail at one point to catch my breath I was overwhelmed by the WOW factor. The air was clear & silent, the sun hung bright in the southern sky casting short deep shadows into the recesses of small canyons, rock falls, vanes & rock overhangs. It was just one of those moments of seeing something I had never seen before & the realization that I may never pass this way again. With that thought in mind I pressed on up the rocky path.
Cresting a ridge I immediately recognized the wind caves in front of me just a few hundred yards distant & down a bit. The lighter colored sandstone formation could have been home for a group of bustling little Hobbit’s. Openings in the smooth contoured sand stone rock looked like small darkened windows with larger flowing doorways at odd angles. Did I see a crooked little chimney with an arc of smoke above it.
I spent about 20 minutes at the wind caves walking all around, clambering atop them at times & inside the little cave alcoves at others. Hastily cracked off a bunch of photos knowing Kelly was far back down the trail & below sitting in the Jeep on the hot Canyon floor. Scooted up a small hill & stood transfixed by the Borrego Badlands fanning out below me to the distant mountain topped horizon. I couldn’t help but think of my Mother as I was standing there. She passed away in 2006. Despite our troubling times over the long years she is the one who made it all possible in the end for Kelly & I to travel these southwestern States & see the panoramic splendors we have seen. My Mother was a traveler of sorts as well, having been to countries in Europe. Her travels also took her to Hawaii & winter trips to Florida. She never did see the beauty of the American Southwest though. Maybe some of my photos will bring that to her now.
THE WIND CAVES
THE CARRIZO BADLANDS
Had to be careful with my descent back down the trail because I was in a hurry & that is precisely when slips, falls & blown out knees happen. Despite all those worries I was soon back at the Jeep where Kelly sat quietly reading her book.
ONE MUST ALWAYS BE VIGILANT IN THESE WILDLY WONDERFUL LANDS
We continued up the Jeep wash marveling at the towering canyon walls. These back country Jeep roads through the mountains & canyons can go on forever so at a widening of the gravely trail after awhile we turned around & headed back through the narrow mountain canyon to the highway leading to Ocotillo Wells & Borrego Springs. Half an hour later we were home sitting in the warm California sun with the rest of the day just kind of softly drifting by..
The Bayfield Bunch welcomes some new blog Followers/Supporters today. Jeannie & Eldy from WHERE'S ELDO. Kathy from DON'T FENCE ME IN. Brooke from OPERATION EXPLORATIONS. Nancy from THE EVOLVING HUMAN & full timers JOHN & LINDA HUBER. Thanks to you all for taking an interest in the life & times of The Bayfield Bunch. And thanks to the Phoenix Mountain Girl for noticing the ‘Watermark’ had disappeared from the bottom right corner of our photos. The correction should take effect on all pics in Friday’s post:))
Today is Thursday & our day basically went like this…..Kelly went into town to do laundry & I stayed in the rig to give it added weight on this rather wind gusty 80F day:)) We are still waiting for our Microsoft Streets & Trips package to arrive & can’t leave here until we get it. It’s been nearly 2 weeks!! Dropped over to see JOHN & JUDY for an hour late this afternoon. Yep, John busted up his plane pretty good but he’s got er all glued together & is anxious to get it in the air again. And no, Louisburg Larry….no elephants were injured in last night’s Groaner. However, the Giraffe had a stiff neck this morning:))
OK, LATE BREAKING UPDATE…Just received this email from Joani regarding shipment of Microsoft’s Streets & Tips: “Hi Al, Thanks for checking in! There has actually been a delay in the shipping of the product, and we were expecting to get more copies this week but it still hasn’t come yet. I will check and see if there is an expected date yet. Sorry about this! Are you leaving soon? Once we get the product, we can have it shipped overnight.”
Well, that frees us up to leave Borrego Springs now because we will change the shipping address for Streets & Trips to our home in Bayfield. But, here’s our decision tonight…..The largest Jeep off road rally in the world is scheduled to kick of Friday just down the road from us. FOUR WHEEL DRIVE CLUB OF SAN DIEGO We have to go right through that area to head North & we do not want to get caught in a massive traffic jam of cars & people. It is at the big Arco station there that we plan to dump our tanks & take on water & I have no patience for huge line-ups. We have to either leave early in the morning or stay where we are until Monday. Our black tank is nearly full & our fresh water tank is nearly empty. Decisions, decisions. If we do decide to roll out in the morning we have no idea if there will be Verizon coverage where we’re headed so not sure about a blog tomorrow night. Or, we may just stay right where we are until Monday or Tuesday…….. Oh dear what to do!!
GROANER’S CORNER:)) This year we will experience 4 unusual dates.... 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11 .... Take the last 2 digits of the year you were born plus the age you will be this year and it WILL EQUAL TO 111:))
So what do all of the 111's mean???ReplyDelete
Wishing you a great trip - wherever your travels take you.ReplyDelete
I have hiked many Southern Utah canyons, and had no idea there were places that lovely in California. I will definitely need to check that place out when we get south in just two weeks! I do love that saturated contrast that you are getting, it all just pops! Hope Kelly's knee gets better soon. Takes time I guess.ReplyDelete
an elephant never forgets!this is definite one we will add to our list!!..what a beautiful place you travelled to today!!..thanks for sharing all your wonderful photos..and yes the groaner does work..59+52=111..how the heck does that work!!ReplyDelete
Fr what its worth, my grandson will be 11 on 10/11/11ReplyDelete
Close as we can get.
Wow, those were some cool caves, desolate area. That iii thing is weird! I have friends in the Niland area to visit and had hoped to meet you 2 while down there in the next couple days, maybe i have waited too long.....ReplyDelete
That first picture is OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!ReplyDelete
Yep, the birth year + my age this year = 111 all right!ReplyDelete
I'll have to admit those wind caves are enticing, but I've had enough desert to last me a few years. Maybe when I get back to "normal"?
Thank's for the update on your Streets and Trips quest.That is basically the same e-mail I received from Joani Jones on the 23rd of Feb, so my drawing is on hold until they arrive.Your pictures are superb as usual, Hope Kelly's knee is on the mend if not she may need to have it looked at again.Be safe out there. let us know what your route past MO will be. Sam & Donna.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the day trip. Love the pictures.ReplyDelete
Dawn and Denise
Loved your tour of the caves and canyons..too bad Kelly couldn't go...I totally identify with her sore knee...and my sore foot...Keep us informed just where you are headed!ReplyDelete
Great photos Al and Kelly is a trouper isn't she! Anxiously awaiting news for where you are going next.ReplyDelete
So wherever you go we will be watching and waiting for your next blog. Get that knee of Kelly's looked at before it gets to the same stage as Brenda's and needs to be replaced. It can take a while in Canada but you have time to make an appointment for the day after you get home. Wish we had done that when Brenda's first started kicking up.ReplyDelete
Travel safe and don't get lost without your Streets and Trips.....lol.
The usual great pictures Al, a real pleasure to look at...I know your Mom is smilin and glad you are showing them to her.....Good Job!ReplyDelete
Beautiful, Al, just beautiful!ReplyDelete
I really like that first elephant knee photo. What a great trip you had!ReplyDelete
As always, Al, it is wonderful to see places we will never be able to visit. Thanks for sharing. The 111 thing is a very simple math "trick" but still fun to play with.ReplyDelete
Those wind caves and canyons look like a great place for a hike. I'll have to check them out for sure. Thanks for the advance tour! Paulette has a bad knee too so she isn't able to go on any of these types of hikes.ReplyDelete
Pictures were spectacular Al. Especially loved the Elephants Knees.ReplyDelete
Just started following your blog. Your pictures are great. Keep up the good work.ReplyDelete
Wonderful picture and tour today! I guess we will just have to suck it up and go into CA to see this great area.ReplyDelete
Besides the price of everything there, CA is not one of our favorite states in general.
SD will be 11 on 10/6/11. Oh well, it was close :)ReplyDelete
Great pics Al! Reminded me of our tour through the same canyon about 1 1/2 months ago... we loved it! Yes, the plane will fly soon!ReplyDelete
We have never been to Borrego Springs and I had no idea about Split Mountain and the Wind Caves. Your pictures are outstanding and make us feel like we were hiking right there with you. Thanks for the tour.ReplyDelete
Love all your photos :) Those wind caves look amazing!!! We won't be CA much for our trip this summer but hope to discover some similar caves in Arizona, Utah or New Mexico on our travels this Spring.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the shout out as a new follower...I LOVE you blog and all the wonderful pictures and am looking forward to April when I can start doing the same :)