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:))