Friday, June 20, 2008

My Ally of Oriflamme Canyon


Not all of my camping trips are to the mountains. When I first moved to San Diego, I discovered the wild diversity and lovely, secluded spots of Anza Borrego Desert State Park.



One year I decided to explore Anza Borrego on my own. I needed some time to myself, and I wanted seclusion. I had no plans for a campsite, although I had reservations at the developed site adjacent to Palm Canyon and Indian Head Peak, just in case. I took off around 5:00 a.m. with my gear and an old, worn out map.

I headed down S2 and finally pulled over to the side. I wasn't sure about which way to go, but I knew I wanted to stay away from Whale Peak, certain to be a favorite with campers and visitors. I got back on the road, and drove slowly, looking south for any kind of trail.

I passed what seemed to be an old abandoned road in a wash, but it was faint. The map showed no markings for it. Perfect! I turned down the wash.

I drove slowly trying to stay on the trail, which frequently disappeared. The driving was difficult; deep sand, huge boulders, and debris from the years of flash floods blocked my way.

The trail began gaining altitude, and soon I was looking into a small chasm to the left. There appeared to be cottonwoods, but how odd in the desert. Suddenly,the trail took a sharp left turn and headed down the hill. At the bottom was the most exquisite oasis, a running creek with a waterfall, grassy banks and about a dozen cottonwoods providing shade around the pond. I parked the truck and pitched my tent on the grass.

The day was perfect, not too hot, and I enjoyed the exploring. When dusk fell I made a light supper, had a glass of wine, and sat peacefully enjoying the sound of the waterfall and the solitude of my little oasis. Later I fell asleep easily in my tent.

Very late in the night violent winds awakened me. The gusts were at least 30 to 40 miles per hour. Luckily I had secured my tent well. Even so, I wondered if I were not inside to help hold the tent down, would it have flown away?

The banshee wind howled mystically through the small chasm. The cottonwoods acted as vocal cords for the gushes of air blasting in from the west. A full moon lit up my summer weight tent through the netting.

The howling continued, but suddenly I was aware of footsteps circling my tent. Every hair stood on end, and I almost froze with terror. They were most definitely human foot steps I heard, pacing around my tent. I had a rifle with me, but even so I could not find my voice or the courage to get out of the tent to confront the intruder.

Eventually the footsteps stopped. I fell asleep at around daybreak and had the most fantastical dreams.

When I awoke, the sun was overhead and the winds had completely died. The silence rattled me. I gingerly unzipped the tent door and stepped outside.

Rings and rings of coyote tracks circled my tent.

A coyote! To this day I don't know why, but at that moment I felt a kinship with the coyote who visited me that night. He was my protector in the desert. My ally in Oriflamme Canyon.

I found out later that in this particular area of Anza Borrego, illegal gold mining continues, especially with cyanide. Those who venture into the area have occasionally been shot at for daring to explore.

My coyote kept me safe.

2 comments:

Beezer said...

Mine mombean has never been to that park, but she has been to Joshua Tree. She told me that there is something very special about the desert there.
I bet I wouldn't have to look far to find a litter box! ;)

Daisy said...

What an exciting and scary adventure you had! You are a lot braver than my Mommie.

Friday, June 20, 2008

My Ally of Oriflamme Canyon


Not all of my camping trips are to the mountains. When I first moved to San Diego, I discovered the wild diversity and lovely, secluded spots of Anza Borrego Desert State Park.



One year I decided to explore Anza Borrego on my own. I needed some time to myself, and I wanted seclusion. I had no plans for a campsite, although I had reservations at the developed site adjacent to Palm Canyon and Indian Head Peak, just in case. I took off around 5:00 a.m. with my gear and an old, worn out map.

I headed down S2 and finally pulled over to the side. I wasn't sure about which way to go, but I knew I wanted to stay away from Whale Peak, certain to be a favorite with campers and visitors. I got back on the road, and drove slowly, looking south for any kind of trail.

I passed what seemed to be an old abandoned road in a wash, but it was faint. The map showed no markings for it. Perfect! I turned down the wash.

I drove slowly trying to stay on the trail, which frequently disappeared. The driving was difficult; deep sand, huge boulders, and debris from the years of flash floods blocked my way.

The trail began gaining altitude, and soon I was looking into a small chasm to the left. There appeared to be cottonwoods, but how odd in the desert. Suddenly,the trail took a sharp left turn and headed down the hill. At the bottom was the most exquisite oasis, a running creek with a waterfall, grassy banks and about a dozen cottonwoods providing shade around the pond. I parked the truck and pitched my tent on the grass.

The day was perfect, not too hot, and I enjoyed the exploring. When dusk fell I made a light supper, had a glass of wine, and sat peacefully enjoying the sound of the waterfall and the solitude of my little oasis. Later I fell asleep easily in my tent.

Very late in the night violent winds awakened me. The gusts were at least 30 to 40 miles per hour. Luckily I had secured my tent well. Even so, I wondered if I were not inside to help hold the tent down, would it have flown away?

The banshee wind howled mystically through the small chasm. The cottonwoods acted as vocal cords for the gushes of air blasting in from the west. A full moon lit up my summer weight tent through the netting.

The howling continued, but suddenly I was aware of footsteps circling my tent. Every hair stood on end, and I almost froze with terror. They were most definitely human foot steps I heard, pacing around my tent. I had a rifle with me, but even so I could not find my voice or the courage to get out of the tent to confront the intruder.

Eventually the footsteps stopped. I fell asleep at around daybreak and had the most fantastical dreams.

When I awoke, the sun was overhead and the winds had completely died. The silence rattled me. I gingerly unzipped the tent door and stepped outside.

Rings and rings of coyote tracks circled my tent.

A coyote! To this day I don't know why, but at that moment I felt a kinship with the coyote who visited me that night. He was my protector in the desert. My ally in Oriflamme Canyon.

I found out later that in this particular area of Anza Borrego, illegal gold mining continues, especially with cyanide. Those who venture into the area have occasionally been shot at for daring to explore.

My coyote kept me safe.

2 comments:

Beezer said...

Mine mombean has never been to that park, but she has been to Joshua Tree. She told me that there is something very special about the desert there.
I bet I wouldn't have to look far to find a litter box! ;)

Daisy said...

What an exciting and scary adventure you had! You are a lot braver than my Mommie.