Photo Post: Super Bloom 2017 & 2019, 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…

 

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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.

 

2019 Update – Timing is everything, didn’t see nearly as many blooms this year as 2017, but it’s always beautiful, especially at sunrise.

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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.)

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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: “Ocotillo forest”, Anza Borrego, CA

The hike up “Alcoholic’s Pass” begins here in what I’m calling an octillo forest. Ah, the sweet breeze, sprinkles of wildflowers, waving ocotillo, vast mountain vistas and morning light…Truly a magical desert experience – perhaps my most memorable yet. Perhaps even better than the superbloom areas with their boastful beauty. You had to be there. I’ll post more video so you can get a better feel for it in the Alcoholic Pass hike post to come.