Talk about a 10+ day! From beginning to end that's what we just experienced.
The beginning was waking up way out on a boondocking road overlooking Borrego Springs; surrounded by starkly dramatic mountains; in the middle of a wild, prickly desert; with a glowing red sunrise welcoming us to the day. Despite a huge scare the previous evening, we were liking this remote place.
My heart still pounds when I think of the previous evening. It was dusk, with the desert darkening quickly. Benton, picking up on some critter, perked up. He stared into the desert, sniffing, when suddenly he took off at full speed. Hitting the end of his lead, his collar broke, and he was gone. I saw him vanish into the desert. Horrible thoughts sprang into my head. This is a desert covered with Cholla cactus, with spines capable of piercing shoe leather, not to mention a dog's foot pads or entire body. The second horrible thought was of the stories that spread like wildfire around here about coyotes enticing dogs out into the desert, to never be seen again. And the third, it was getting dark quickly and we'd have no chance of finding him.
|Thistle boondocked, overlooking Borrego Springs, CA|
I yelled, Benton! Come! No, actually I screamed, Benton! Come! in a totally hysterical voice.
And he did! And I breathed again! On inspection, not a thorn could be found.
|The desert I watched Benton disappear into.|
But that was then and this is now, and our day just gets better and better. We meet Paul and Karen at Christmas Circle, a huge roundabout, in Borrego Springs. Inside the roundabout is a green, grassy park with picnic tables, trees, restrooms, bandstand and free wifi. It's the town's park and gathering place. From there we pile into the car together and take off for a hike in the mountains.
The drive through the mountains was breathtakingly beautiful -- rocky, rugged, steep, curvy -- all the things we love about mountain roads. But the crème de la crème was the hiking trail. Up, up, up, through a spring-green cow pasture, into rolling oak and manzanita hillsides. Wild flowers were in bloom and the day a perfect, slightly-overcast, cool. The views were beyond description beautiful and the company superb.
|Santa Ysabel East Open Space Preserve|
|Checking out the trail options.|
|View down into the valley.|
Each step moved us into more and more splendor, for the entire four and a half miles. I was so busy enjoying everything, I only took a few photographs, but the few I have clearly prove my 10+ day claim. But, perhaps happier than any of us, was Benton. He had an off leash day of running, running, running, between eating cow pies and grazing on the grass. What a smile that dog can put on his face! Of course, he threw up later, but if he could talk I'm certain he would say, "it was worth it!"
|Lunch under the oaks.|
|Ed, Paul & Karen|
|Wild peony along the trail.|
No hike is complete without a relieve-the-hunger treat so we topped off with a piece of pie from the Julian Pie Company, before heading back down the winding mountain road to the Anza Borrego desert.
We spent a quiet evening back at camp. See what I mean, a 10+ -- all day long!
"After a day's walk everything has twice its usual value."
- George Macauley Trevelyan