Dinosaurs, Mastodons and Saber-Tooth Tigers —oh my! Galletta Meadows Field Trip, Anza Borrego.

Thanks to the owner of Galleta Meadows Estate, Dennis Avery, there’s an incredible al fresco metal art sculpture exhibition to be discovered in Anza Borrego. Over 130 metal sculptures created by artist/welder Ricardo Breceda seem to appear out of nowhere in the barren, dramatic landscape. With a little imagination, you’re transported to the prehistoric times of dinosaurs, mastodons and saber-tooth tigers.

20151214_090425_001

20151214_090125_001.jpg

20151214_092407.jpg

The exhibition spans about 10 square miles. Many of the sculptures can be seen from the road; others require some driving, hiking or mountain biking in on sandy roads. Some are in clusters, others quite spread out. You never now what kind of creature you’ll encounter next. Highlights include a giant scorpion, a 350 foot-long sea dragon and so many more. I’ll leave you to discover the rest yourself. My favorites, as you can tell, were the prehistoric sculptures.

It’s definitely worth seeing and no doubt a blast for the kids.

Getting there: Take the S22 into Anza Borrego and cruise the valley looking at both sides of the road. (If you want a guided map for the sculptures, you can pick one up at the visitor center in town.)

 

 

Exploring the Goat Canyon Trestle by Mountain Bike, Jacumba, CA

Deep in the heart of the Jacumba Mountains overlooking Carrizo Gorge in Anza Borrego State Park, you’ll find the Goat Canyon Trestle. Getting to the world’s largest curved wooden trestle is like being transported to the wild west of days done by. You’ll traverse dark tunnels in various stages of collapse, dodge rock slides, narrowly avoid precipitous drops into rock canyons, explore abandoned trains and endure the blazing desert sun. If this is your idea of fun, read on. Ok, it’s not that bad. In fact, it’s an easy, flat mtb cruise or a longish flat hike through some very cool (pun intended) desert terrain.

(Video credit and pics I’m in below: Ken Wells)

It’s slow going as there are several points where you have to lift your bike over one obstacle or another. You can’t speed through because you never know what’s around the next corner or if the bottom might drop out in front of you.

20180421_122141.jpg

 

Be alert and cautious all the way out and back. Headlamps are a must for the tunnels, lots of obstacles in there. Workout-wise, it’s easy – safety-wise, it could be considered a bit sketchy.

20180421_113342.jpg

20180421_130252.jpg

As you bike along the railway, sometimes the path is quite narrow with a precipitous drop into the rocky canyon below. A moment of distraction could make for a very bad day. Wouldn’t suggest mountain biking for kids here, unless they are quite skilled and cautious riders.

20180421_112723.jpg

20180421_112437.jpg

20180421_105723.jpg

Up close, the trestle seems a bit rickety, like a skinny, dilapidated Jenga set.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Background: The trestle was built in 1933, as part of the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway, aka “the impossible railroad” that ran through Baja California and Eastern San Diego County and ended in Imperial Valley. Over the years, collapsed tunnels and rock slides plagued the railroad, including the collapse of Tunnel 15, which led to the creation of the trestle. The trestle was constructed of wood (no nails used), rather than metal due to the area’s extreme temperature fluctuations, which can lead to “metal fatigue” / failure and it was designed with a 14 degree angle to offset Goat Canyon’s high winds. By 2008, rail traffic had ceased.  As recently as last year, another tunnel, Number 6, near the trestle collapsed…(Yikes.)

Distance: Roundtrip 10 -14 miles, depending on where you start

Getting there: 8E from San Diego, take the Jacumba Exit

Parking: Park for free in the dirt lot right off the freeway at the Jacumba exit and follow the dirt portion of Carrizo Gorge Road 2 miles towards the DeAnza Spring Resort, the largest “clothing optional” resort in North America. Optionally, pay $5 to park at the resort.  1951 Carrizo Gorge Rd.  There’s a Subway & gas station right off the freeway. You can also grab a bite & beer at the resort after your ride…20180421_102928.jpg

Note: This is the desert, plan accordingly – ample water, sunscreen, hat, etc…

 

Photo Post: Super Bloom 2017, Anza Borrego, CA

Just realized that I never posted my still photos from this year’s Super Bloom in Anza Borrego. In case you’re wondering, a Super Bloom is the term used to described an exceptionally abundant wildflower bloom that exceeds the usual seasonal Spring bloom.  When heavy rains and consistent wet weather come to the deserts of the southwest during late fall through winter as they did this year after a 5 year drought, the ideal condition for a Super Bloom is created. So ideal, in fact that this colossal colorful and fragrant explosion only occurs about once a decade. Seeds that lie dormant under rocks and sand for untold years, finally sprout when water washes away their protective coating…

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

20170313_072142_001

 

In our deserts, we typically see a sprinkling of purple sand verbena, white dune evening primroses, orange poppies (California’s state flower) and an occasional red-tipped ocotillo. This year, it was a breathtaking, surreal display with carpets of wildflowers, blooming cactus and red-tipped ocotillo forests. Be sure to check out my videos (1, 2, 3) for more of an immersion experience.

 

Cheers to “Alcoholic Pass” Hike, Anza Borrego, CA

Scenery: Desert delight

Distance: You decide – up to 4.8 miles out & back

Difficulty: Moderate

This lovely little hike, was especially magical during the current wildflower super bloom. It entails some switch backs and a moderate climb (approximately 833 feet in .8 mile.) You can sign in at the top and keep going down the other side or turn around.

It was near the top when I captured a video of a bird greeting me with its morning song.

I’ve never experienced the desert quite like this – the morning light waking the shadows on the rocky ridges, the citrus wildflower breeze – oh my! Wish I’d camped at the top, it would have been fantastic to wake up to breathtaking solitude. Instead, I was running around getting wildflower pictures at dawn. (Post to come.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Local lore

The Cahuilla Indians originally used this route as a short cut between Coyote Canyon and Clark Valley. Subsequently early settlers also used the trail to cut off the 6 miles it takes to go around Coyote Mountain to get to Clark Valley. Some say it might have gotten it’s name from the drinking habits of the cattlemen and settlers who frequented Borrego Springs’ “watering” holes. Other say it’s just the winding trail that gives it it’s name. All this talk and typing is making me thirsty for a quenching margie and I know just the spot – the Ram’s Head Bar and Grill. (Post to come,)

Getting there: From Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, drive east on Hwy S-22 and turn left (north) on DiGiorgio Road toward Coyote Canyon. You find the trailhead on the right, 2.4 miles past the paved road on an easily traversed dirt road. Desert Garden is just past Alcoholic’s Pass, you  can take an easy stroll in a concentrated area of cactus and other native plant life if you’re short on time or prefer not to hike up Alcoholic Pass.

Nature Meditation: Super bloom Dawn @Henderson Canyon, Anza Borrego, CA

I thought these video were worth sharing despite my novice camera skills. Learning as I go, thanks for bearing with me. : ) Super bloom post with some fantastic still photos and more videos to come.

 

And from the moon and mountain’s perspective:

 

 

 

 

Nature Meditation: Bird Song, Anza Borrego State Park

Sharing the bird’s song and vista that greeted me on my morning hike up Alcoholic Pass in Anza Borrego last weekend. (Stay tuned for my superbloom post.) My best guess is that it is a wren of some type (Catcus, Bewick, Rock)? If you’re up on your ornithology,  tell us what you think it is. And if you’d like to learn more about the birds of Anza Borrego, click here.