Friday, March 22, 2013

My Top Ten San Diego Hikes, #7 - Anza Borrego Desert State Park

" The first time I knew you 
Tears ran down my face 
you taught me how to look at Earth's geologic past 
that will prepare us for what is to come....."  
Those were the words that spoke to me the first time I saw Borrego badlands, remnants of what was once underneath the sea. If this desert state park were any closer to San Diego proper, this place would move up in the list of My Top Ten San Diego hikes. Sadly however, this desert State Park is the farthest among the places in My Top Ten list, being in the northeasternmost of San Diego County.
Me on the Snowy Slopes of Cuyamaca that Borders The Dry Anza Borrego Desert
In my previous post, I mentioned that what is unique with Cuyamaca Rancho State Park ( #8 in my top ten list ) is that it borders the desert. The beauty of San Diego could not be described by one overpowering symbol since there is none. Instead, San Diego revels in its geologic diversity. The drive from main town San Diego to Anza Borrego would make one experience the beautiful contrasts of the huge and majestic waves of the ocean, the tranquil water in the bay, boulder-strewn foothills, oak and pine-clad mountains to the vast rain shadow desert. 
@ Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, West border of Anza Borrego Desert State Park
The rain shadow desert is produced by the high mountains on the West that blocks movement of winter storms pouring most of the rain on the west side of the mountains. The result....the lush Cuyamaca Forest on the West and the bone dry arid Anza Borrego Desert in the East. Bone dry- which others call a wasteland. But is the desert really a wasteland? Let us take a closer look.......
2009 Spring Wildflowers @ Anza Borrego Desert State Park
From afar, the desert looks too dry and unforgiving. Others dismiss the desert as a waste land because it is a place devoid of lushness and foliage. However, the desert whispers: "have patience to wait...for God transforms this dirt into a wonderland!". 
Me Amongst Desert  Spring Blooms ( Spring 2009 )
The desert spring blooms is not a guarantee every spring, because it depends on the amount and timing of precipitation. However, seeing a barren land transform into a paradise of color, is like seeing some of the greatest miracles of life. Like, the miracle of a drop of water. 
White Evening Primrose and Desert Sand Verbena
Because Anza Borrego is quite a long drive for us, whenever we go here, we combine several hiking trails and take some time to simply stop at some of our favorite places. We leave San Diego early morning, and usually get back home at night. Despite the long drive and combination of different hikes, we go home feeling energized, inspired by the miracles in the desert that we see that is shaped by water and tectonics.
Here are some of our favorite hiking trails in Anza Borrego Desert State Park (best time to hike: winter to early spring ):
1. Borrego Palm Canyon Trail -  5.5 miles round trip hike, 600 ft elevation gain from the Park Visitor Center; or 3 miles round trip hike, 450 ft elevation gain from Borrego Palm Canyon Crampground.
Images from Borrego Palm Canyon Trail
This is probably my most favorite trail at Anza Borrego. It starts out flat with thorny vegetation adorned by wildflowers during spring. Then it gradually climbs with some fun rock scrambling once inside the canyon. Inside the canyon, it's like a different world, not a desert. Water runs through the creek, a lot of minI-waterfalls, and the biggest surprise of them all, desert bighorn sheep enjoying the water creek that runs through the palm oasis
Desert's Surprises @ Borrego Palm Canyon
Nature's Desert Garden
In the desert
I see the promise 
Of a hidden and peaceful oasis 
That supports a very diverse life 
2. Font's Point - 1.0 mile round trip, 200 ft elevation gain. Actually, anyone could enjoy the beauty at Font's Point without a hike, but anyone could go further East and walk around Font's Point to see more of the beauty that is created by water. Millions of years ago, Anza Borrego was underneath the sea. Forsaken by the sea, a maze of hills and washes came out revealing our geologic past.
The Sea of Badlands @ Font's Point
3. Palm Slot Canyon ( near the trailhead of Calcite Mine ) - 
Goofing Off @ Palm Slot Canyon with Cousin and Friend
this is a fun hike that can be short or long depending on how much one wants to get deeper into the slot canyon. The trailhead is close enough to S-22 highway, further East of the Fon'ts point turn-out.
Having Fun @ the Palm Slot Canyon (me and hubby)
Hiking @ palm Slot Canyon
4. Cactus Loop Trail - this is a short 1 mile hike with 200 ft change in elevation, however, one could extend the hike if not taking other trails because there are interconnecting trails here. This is like nature's cactus garden with ocotillo, barrel cactus, cholla cactus, among others.
Hubby (top left) standing next to ocotillo, younger brother (top right) amidst cholla cactus
Palm trees beautifully swaying hidden in canyons.....
Intriguing thorny vegetation that gives some of the world's most beautiful blossoms....
Convoluted maze of hills and washes....
Desert calling you into preserving and conserving its mind boggling natural landscapes of unique geologic and biologic origins.  
The beauty and magnificence of the desert 
Reminds us not to look on skin alone 
For deeper beauty is not on what is obvious 
But what lies inside!

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  1. I will pick Font's point. How I wish we could bring back those times when the flowers were just in their fullest!

  2. This is an amazing post, Betchai! It gives me a feeling of much beauties out there that can be seen and enjoy.

    Thank you for hiking, and bring back all of these fantastic areas to share!

  3. I love the pictures where you are sitting on the cliffs. You look so small yet so brave.

  4. Beautiful as it is,Betchai. I wonder what is your number one favourite. I want to guess,Yosemite.hehehhe. That's the place I want to visit. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love the spring flowers and the capture of that falls was amazing! Every capture in this post is simply beautiful. I feel excited to know your no. 1 choice, Te BEtchai. All three are magnificent in its own right and I just can't help but wonder how beautiful the No. 1 pick would be :-) I hate to be kept in suspenders, errr, I meant in suspense but I guess I just have to be patient :-)

  6. love the first photo, too. i wonder what could have happen to the sea? well, for once, the place looks amazing -the abundance of greens and yes, the beautiful wildflowers.
    good luck on your next hiking adventure.

  7. a hidden gem indeed, Beth. when you judge a book by it's cover, you'll never unfold what beauty lies beneath...

  8. Stunning sceneries. You're like in a different planet. I love your first photo, this is a dream shot.

  9. So love your goofing off photos Betchai! And the collages are such a breath of fresh air now that summer is all around me! And those blooming flowers, I sound like a broken record makes me wish to see Spring for myself soon! :) looking forward to reading on the next top place to hike in SD :D

  10. Feels like I have been wonderfully taken into these wonderful places Ate Betchai. Seeing the photos of your hiking trips around San Diego inspired me to dream and see all of those someday.

    Thanks for capturing the amazing beauty of nature.

  11. I love the way you capture photos Betchai, so in touch with nature as it highlights the beauty in it. Keep it up!


  12. thanks for touring us around the park, must be really awesome to be there. love all the pictures, natures and goofing around...nice that everyone's enjoying the park. but this picture 2009 Spring Wildflowers @ Anza Borrego Desert State Park is really i always say, i wish our family can see lovely places like this. :)

  13. Pretty scenes and flowers from your Anza Borrego Desert State Park adventures. Thanks for sharing your favorite San Diego hikes through your beautiful photos!

  14. A world that is full of flowers.

    Colourful,and beautiful.

  15. First photo is the best... the joys of simple life...