Friday, March 04, 2011

MY 4TH JOURNEY TO GHOST MOUNTAIN

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WRITING A SHORT NOTE TO INCLUDE IN A GEOCACHE I FOUND A YEAR & A DAY AGO

At 7:45 this morning the decision was reached to stay in Borrego Springs for a couple more days.  Twenty minutes later I was in the Jeep headed for Ghost Mountain.

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The big winds knocked us around pretty good in the night but by morning all was calm & the warm morning air told us we were in for another 80+F day.  Figured if I got myself going early enough I could get a hike in to one of my favorite California places.

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HEADING THROUGH BLAIR VALLEY TO GHOST MOUNTAIN ON THE HORIZON

It had been exactly 366 days since I last climbed Ghost Mountain over in Blair Valley.  One year & one day.  Thought that kind of coincidental.  Threw my Marshal South book in the Jeep & headed west for Yaqui Pass.  If you’re a gear jammer with sports car enthusiasm, this roads for you.  The winding mountain section between Tamarisk Grove & Scissors Crossing is a real treat too….except for this morning.  Construction!!  Sat for 15 minutes & then our small convoy was led through by a lead construction vehicle.  I knew by that I would not be coming back that way.  It’s Friday & in a matter of hours that road would be choked to bits with tons of RV Toy Haulers heading for Ocotillo Wells to rip up the desert for yet another manic mayhem week-end.  All the San Diego kids come here to play.

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A 15 MINUTE DELAY FOR CONSTRUCTION THIS MORNING….GONNA BE BAD LATER IN THE DAY

A left turn onto road S2 heading through Shelter Valley soon had me over a short sharp  turn ridge & dropped me into Blair Valley which is home to Ghost Mountain.  A quick left turn off S2 had me on the hard packed desert floor bumping my way along through some mud holes on a makeshift bumpity sand packed road.  Luckily, I knew exactly where I was going because the trails leading through the Mesquite, Agave, tall Yucca, Mescal plants & Creosote bushes can be confusing.  This was my 4th trip to Ghost Mountain, one of my all time favorite places to be.  Atop this Mountain are what’s left of a man’s dream called Yaquitepec.

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A SANDY ROAD LEADS TO GHOST MOUNTAIN

But first I should say this….Ghost Mountain is not a true mountain as we think of towering peaks.  The MARSHAL SOUTH homestead called Yaquitepec sits atop a high ridge between the Sawtooth Range & the Vallecito Mountains.  Click on the link above to read just who Marshal South was & what his family had to do with an experiment in primitive living many years ago.  If you type Marshal South into the search bar in our upper right column you can find all my previous posts & photos of my hikes up Ghost Mountain to the ruins.

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MARSHAL SOUTH’S YAQUITEPEC HOMESTEAD IS DEAD CENTER ATOP THE RIDGE AHEAD…. GHOST MOUNTAIN

I parked the Jeep near the exact spot Marshal South used to park their old car which he made so many dusty road trips to Julian in.  I knew right away it was going to be a special morning because I was the only one there.  Just me, the trail, the mountain ridge & the wind in the cactus.  Now how absolutely great was that!!  This is a very steep rocky one mile trail from the trailhead to the ruins.  You can find more about the trail & the hike at ANZA BORREGO TRAIL.

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THE MILE LONG PATH LEADING TO THE MARSHAL SOUTH HOMESTEAD

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THE LAGUNA MOUNTAINS WEST OF GHOST MOUNT

Took me 20 labored minutes to reach the plateau section atop the ridge with the beautiful sweeping southwest view out over the Vallecito Valley.  Another 15 minutes had me along the path & clambering up through the last section of the trail which consisted of large boulders.  And, there it was….Yaquitepec.

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THE CISTERN FOR GATHERING WATER

I am always so happy to return here each year & feel the peace & serenity of this spot.  I could go on for a long time about my feelings here but instead refer you once again to my previous posts.  I will keep this blog shorter that way by just keeping my narrative to a minimum.

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First thing after peeling off all my camera gear & setting it on the old cistern was to find the Geocache I accidentally found a year ago.  Jean & Skip had been here a few days ago but couldn’t find it.  They were right….it wasn’t there.  I quickly checked around the immediate area & a few seconds later relocated it about 2 feet away in a new & better location under a small rock alcove.  Sat down on the ground, punctured my leg with a nearby Agave & proceeded to pull out & open the Geocache.  Lots of personal little things inside along with people’s notes & printed information on the Marshal South story with maps.  My biggest surprise was to find the ‘Bayfield Bunch’ card I had put in the metal ammunition box 366 days ago.  I added a second card with today’s time & date.  Took some photos & carefully repacked the ammo box & returned it to it’s hidden little rock cave. 

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GHOST MOUNTAINS GEO CACHE

Next, I took out my Marshal South book & headed for the area where the cover of the book was taken.  I was curious to see if I could find the exact spot where Marshal South stood for that photo.  Try as I may I could not find it.  I tried to line up boulders in the background but just could not match the rocks in the photo with the rocks that are actually there.  Disappointing.  Next I walked over to the spot where Marshal South sat in his quiet spot among the rocks to write his many articles for the Desert Magazine.   I had photographed myself sitting in this spot a year ago & today I took some more pictures with the Marshal South book in the same place.

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COULDN’T MATCH THE PHOTO WITH THE LOCATION

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MARSHAL SOUTH’S QUIET WRITING PLACE

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THIS IS THE VIEW MARSHAL SOUTH HAD WHILE SITTING IN HIS QUIET PLACE WRITING THE MANY ARTICLES FOR DESERT MAGAZINE

From there I walked over & climbed atop a large boulder overlooking the Vallecito Valley stretching eastward to the distant horizon & the Carrizo Badlands.  Each time I come here I climb onto this rock & stand transfixed by the Valley below & the massive Tierra Blanca & snow topped Sawtooth Mountains to the West.  This is my special spot at Yaquitepec where my mind quietly touches on things it never usually takes the time to touch on.

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I LIKE TO STAND ATOP THIS ROCK LOOKING FAR INTO THE VALLECITO VALLEY FAR BELOW

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THE CISTERN MADE FOR A HANDY BASE OF OPERATIONS TODAY

Climbing down from my special place I walked over to the ruins & took a series of photos again.  I must have hundreds upon hundreds of photos from the ruins of Yaquitepec & every time I come back I take more.

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THE SLOWLY DETERIORATING HOMESTEAD WILL ONE DAY BE GONE

A quick check over the ridge into the Blair Valley below showed me where the Jeep was parked & that a group of people had just started up the trail.  Although I knew they couldn’t reach Yaquitepec for half an hour I knew my time at Ghost Mountain had come to an end. 

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300MM TELEPHOTO SHOT OF 4 PEOPLE STARTING UP THE TRAIL

I had been on the Mountain for nearly 2 hours.  It was time to say good-bye to Yaquitepec & the spirits of those who once lived here.  It is always a sad time for me & I always find goodbyes difficult, but it was time to go.  One last photo & I then turned my back & began the journey back down the long rocky trail.

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ONE LAST PHOTO & IT WAS TIME TO GO

Met a group of 4 older people coming up about half way down.  They were moving very slowly & with difficulty.  One lady had a bad knee but was determined to reach the top.  The trail was very rough & a challenge for even a younger person.  I knew this group had a long way to go & by the look of the lady’s knee I had my doubts they could make it.  And if they did, it was going to be even harder on everyone’s knees coming down.  I took their picture, gave them a Bayfield Bunch card & wished them well.

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Less than 10 minutes later I was at the Jeep.  I could still see 4 tiny specks high on the mountainside trail slowly inching upwards.  I will always wonder if they made it.

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I WILL ALWAYS WONDER IF THEY MADE IT (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Fired up the Jeep, shifted into gear & swung the steering wheel to the left.  Glanced at my watch & it was right on high noon.  My journey back to the rig was underway as I headed northward up the Blair Valley.  Bumped through a few waterholes & 10 minutes later I made a right hand turn onto S2.  With Shelter Valley on my left & Earthquake Valley on my right I headed for highway 78 at Scissors Crossing.  As expected, the highway was very busy with all forms of weekend warriors heading out of the cities & suburbs.  All were hurriedly making for Ocotillo Wells & the big Jeep rally over near the Salton Sea.  Little did they know about the massive & probable traffic jam in the curving mountain pass ahead of them.  But, I knew about it.

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THE JEEP IS STARTING TO LOOK LIKE A JEEP AGAIN:)))))

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ROLLING THROUGH BLAIR VALLEY ON THE JOURNEY HOME

I had remembered another road leading to Borrego Springs that Kelly & I had taken a couple years ago while out exploring the area.  About a minute after turning onto highway 78 I made a left turn out of the traffic line onto the north end of S2 heading for Ranchita.  Made a right turn on S22 & 15 minutes later I was rapidly descending the San Ysidro Mountains down Montezuma’s grade into the Borrego Valley.  This drive can be a nail biter with it’s steady descent, tight hairpin curves & convoy like traffic.  If you don’t like heights you had better stay off this mountain.  Followed a big Class A 40’ diesel banger towing a car & couldn’t believe how this guy rode his brakes two thirds of the way down the mountain.  He finally pulled off in a large scenic overlook.  Bet he was getting some ‘hot brakes’ warning lights on his dash.

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ROLLING DOWN THE MONTEZUMA GRADE INTO BORREGO SPRINGS

After leaving Ghost Mountain I became aware of how hungry I was.  Knowing I would be taking the Montezuma route I knew I would be going right down the main street of Borrego Springs.  A great big juicy hamburger came to mind & that of course meant, Jilbertos:))  Found a parking place right out front & with grumbling tummy & taste bud expectations I sauntered myself through the door.  Asked the young Mexican girl behind the counter how much a single hamburger was.  Her reply was $4.89.  Hauled out my wallet & quickly pulled out 1, 2, 3, 4 dollars.  What, where was dollar number 5!!  Awwwww nuts!!!!!!!!  No hamburger for me:((

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I was back to the rig by 1:30 & headed straight for my peanut butter jar…10-4

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GROANER’S CORNER:((  You know you've found the right Jeep club if every member of the club requests to be buried in their jeep because 'My Jeep ain't never been in a hole it couldn't get out of…….10-4!!

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The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right now...... AL.

       

13 comments:

  1. I don't eat hamburgers very often, but I had my heart set on you getting one at Jilberto's. I think I was as disappointed as you were when you came up $.89 short. Your post affected me way more than all the foodie blogs put together!

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  2. I've never been on a geo cache until reading this! Felt like I was right there! Great photos!
    Days like that make peanut butter taste good!

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  3. I can imagine how quiet and peaceful this old homestead must have been when it was a home. No wonder you like to stay there and listen to the stillness. Nice that you could stay a few more days and make the trek.

    Emjaay

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  4. I've had that happen several times, gotten into the habit of not having a lot of cash in my wallet and a lot of out of the way places don't take a card. Have to remember back to the days when I had a $100 bill hidden in my wallet or badge case for emergencies. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna...

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  5. Nice hike Al,,,,,I wish you would come to the Black Hills and let me show you some of my special hikes....where i get the same feelings ..hikes not for the faint at heart,,,but places I can talk with all my Angels that have gone to another world before me.(like my boy's)

    The guy in that 40' rig may have had a transmission like I have in my Foretravel. The Allison transmission has a RETARDER on it,,that acts as a JAKE brake only it works on the tranmission rather than the engine. It has a joy stick and you pull back as you need it to slow you down....really works slick,,,,you never have to apply the brakes and it never wears on the brake shoes. It does however turn on your brake lights... So if he had that, he may have never touched his brake pedal,,,,,,,,JFYI....

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  6. Felt like I have been to Ghost Mountain. Reading that post and enjoying the pictures gave me a sense of peace and serenity. Makes me curious about Marshall South. Who was this guy? Thanks for sharing and best wishes.

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  7. Poor Al, no hamburger! Great photos again.

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  8. Good blog and photos I felt like I was riding a long with you and could hear and smell the things you did.

    Thanks for the ride..

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  9. Every boy needs his special secret sacred place, and you surely have yours. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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  10. I really enjoy reading your blog since I fond it a few days ago. Your pictures are fantastic and your writing style is enjoyable to read.

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  11. I LOVE places that begin with the word GHOST!! I would have been touching everything in site..channeling some ghostly history ....Thanks for the tour!

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  12. Another great post that made me feel like I was there with you. I have been lucky to find numerous places in my travels that served as a peaceful place to rest my heart and soul.

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  13. Al, You have such interesting things to write about, and such a wonderful gift for sharing them. Your photos are always fantastic. You have such a fine eye for composition and color and texture! I really want to get through your archives! Thanks again for sharing so many interesting places! And...it's nice to know where the weekend warriors are going to turn up! You make me want to find a Jeep for a toad instead of our Honda Fit!

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