I was on top of Font's Point, where the mesa suddenly drops away into a miriad of badlands, with numerous eroded channels twisting and turning as the infrequent floods searched for a way down to the Salton Sea, 20 miles to the east.
I had driven the four miles the previous evening up a shallow, unassuming wash, not really aware of any elevation gain, till sometime after sundown - which comes early in December here - when I walked up the short trail to the viewpoint and was somewhat shocked to find sheer cliffs dropping off all around. Even in the dark, it was impressive, the twinkling lights all around; most notably Borrego Springs, with it's airpot lights on far below and a lone aircraft making its late approach. But far to the east the lights of Salton City could also be seen, as well as a few scattered farms and homes out in the desert.
I had the place to myself, save a dedicated photographer, who spent the entire night out under the starry sky with his cameras taking photos of stars, meteor showers, and planets, I guess?
At first light he was gone, and with fresh coffee in hand, lawn chair, and binoculars and camera, I was set to watch the sun rise.
The view changes by the second, every change in angle of the sun reveals something new. I could see out to Salton Sea, where I had spent a night several years ago; I could see up into Rockhouse canyon where I had spent some time last year; I could see up into Coyote Canyon and Desert Garden where I had spent the night before; and I could see the winding state highway S22 as it winds and climbs it's way out of the valley bottom into the Pinyon range.
Bright white specks appeared in the desert; sometimes isolated and some in groups as fellow RV'ers camp spots were revealed. I had chatted with some 'Escapees' from Ontario the day before, and could see the group of their rigs in a modern day circling of the wagons. It wasn't too hard to imagine the colonization expedition that passed through this way and up Coyote canyon in the 1700's, except for the lack of cattle, as they headed to their eventual destination and established San Franciso.
I had departed Desert Hot Springs a few days previously, and spent a bit of time in Palm Springs filling up on propane, fuel, and groceries, as well as a Tomtom gps navigator. It was getting dark after leaving highway 86, onto the S22 towards Borrego Springs, even tho my new Tomtom wanted me to go the long way via highway 78! Just prior to entering the state park there was an RV or two pulled off, so I decided to join them, but found my own little mesa, surrounded on all sides by steep drop-offs and badlands. A low temperature of 10C was welcomed after some below freezing nights up around Barstow and beyond.
Then it was on into the town of Borrego Springs to catch up on bill payments, e-mail, news, weather, and then to the Park Info centre for an up to date map. Sunset is at 16:40 here at this time of year, so it is a bit of a rush to find a camp spot in daylight if you are in an unfamiliar area.
(Click on any photo for a larger view) New map in hand (Tomtom only knows 'real' roads), it was out to the north of town and into the Coyote Canyon area. We soon found a nice place to set up, and were serendaded a little later by the coyote choir - which was fitting. There had been sightings of a cougar and kitten in the area recently, but they must have been on days off!
The next day was sunny and warm, and a lot of time was spent just soaking up the warmth. I went for a short drive further up the canyon until it got a bit rough to be bouncing the camper over. There were some washouts and warning signs, and soft sand. I watched a humingbird for a while, before deciding on a more energetic pursuit.
The nearest trail was the Alcoholic Pass trail, so up we went. From the top, you can look over into adjoining Rockhouse canyon. From the story I heard at the info centre, the pass got it's name from early settlers who would hike over this pass to visit each other, always carrying a bottle or two to share with the neighbour?
As a result of the recent rain (the first rain since Feb, in this area I was told), some of the ocotillo cactus has begun to bloom.Others were not so lucky to survive in this harsh environment.
As I was sitting on a rock admiring the view, I heard a rock fall a short distance away and sure enough, there was my first (clumsy?!) Desert Bighorn Sheep! I managed to get a photo or two (where is that zoom lens when you need it) to prove my point.
It was about a 4/5 curl ram who looked very similar to our sheep at home in Alberta, but his horns were much lighter in color - perhaps due to the continuous sun exposure down here? We observed each other from about 150m, until he walked around the corner and out of sight.
When the hike was done, it was tempting just to sit back in the sun and let the early sunset take over, but instead I made a quick pass through town for some more groceries and headed out to check out this place called Fonts Point.
How great it is in the morning so step outside the camper with a hot coffee in hand, take in the view as it is revealed in the morning sun, and breathe in the aroma of sagebrush and mesquite! It would be better only if my cat Harley was along to enjoy it with me. He passed on just a year ago this week. I'm sure he is still along in spirit, and a few tufts of hair in the camper!