Sunday, January 30, 2005

Coyote Snacking

Near Ranchita California, this trickster was just swallowing a mouse or gopher and rolling in the grass by the side of the highway. Stopped the Jeep and snapped a picture of the fun-loving critter before he turned and dashed off the field into some cover.

Bighorns in Culp Valley

Saw three Bighorn sheep walking down from the mountain off SR-22. This fellow decided to climb up on the rock and mug for the camera. "I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille."

Wildflowers in Ocotillo Wells

The recent rains produced a bumper crop of wildflowers in the desert including this field of color near Devil's Slide in the Ocotillo Wells Vehicular Recreation Area.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Hazy Beach Day

I wanted to test out my new digital camera but it was very hazy at Tammarack beach yesterday afternoon. I purchased a JVC Everio and this is the first time since the holidays that I've had a chance to play with it. We've been getting some excellent waves lately and the water was packed with sufers. Most of the shots I took were kind of washed out looking but I did like the way the reflection of this bird came out. I think it is a Willet, but I couldn't say for sure. So if you are an Audubon Society expert, feel free to correctly identify this little fellow.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Flash Flood in the Wash

I drove down this jeep trail for about 5 miles until it started raining hard. Since this trail is at the bottom of the Texas Dip (a mile wide, 100 foot deep channel), it is a prime area for flash floods. I decided to turn tail and get out of the wash before the water started flowing through. As I got back to the road it really started to rain and you can see the start of small streams just beginning to flow into the wash. This area was used in the filming of the movie Bugsy.

Borrego Springs Rainbow

Took this photo of a rainbow in the early morning after a thunderstorm. We were staying at the La Casa del Zoro in Borrego Springs and took a short hike through this open area across the street from our room. You could actually see the other side of the arc farther to the southeast. Tried to find the pot of gold... but the rainbow disappeared on the approach.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Ocotillo Blooms

Blooming ocotillo (pronounced o-co-tee-yo), whose spiney branches are 10 to 15 feet long. The plants usually look dead until rain falls when green leaves burst out of the wood tipped with bright red flowers. This plant was growing in abundance along the trail toward The Slot (along Borrego Mtn. Wash).

Rainclouds Near Palm Canyon

The storm moves in and the clouds get thick above Palm Canyon campground (near the visitor's center). Average yearly rainfall is about 6 inches per year.

Hummingbird Spirit Helper

We saw two types of hummingbirds on this trip. The one in this photo was a Costa's hummingbird and the other fellow was an Anna's hummingbird. The main diffence between them is color. The head and breast of the Costa's is purple and Anna's is red/fushia.

Anza-Borrego Desert Pix

The Anticline in Fish Creek
Heading westward through the Split Mountain divide is a geologist's playground full of red dirt, giant rock formations and wind caves. The cliffs are chock full of ancient rocks. This rock and mud mixture is called fanglomerate and is approximately 20 million years old.

The best spot to observe the chaos is a place called the anticline where rock plates are stacked on top of each other and resemble stacks of crazy kitchen plates. You can see how the plates have been forced up and down by the weight on top of them and form a kind of arch in the cliff face.

The geology along this trail was beautifully described by the late Dr. Horace Paker in his Anza-Borrego guidebook. He wrote that: "Split Mountain's height and mass forms awesome patterns, constantly drawing one's eyes upward to search for new points of interest along the canyon's walls. Geologically speaking, Mother Nature went berserk mixing a potpourri of her many arts. There are granites and lava dikes, sandstones and mudstone, marine deposits and fresh-water deposits, anticlines and synclines, hanging walls and footwalls, fault zones and landslides, with igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and combinations of each. And to top if off, she made a special plum pudding called Split Mountain fanglomerate, in which worn and rounded stones, like raisins, are embedded in a matrix of sandstone alluvium. To add a touch of humor, she liberally garnished the area with ridiculously formed sandstone concretions. Then she cut, sculptured, and tilted the entire mess into a rock-candy pattern of canyons, washes, and broad valleys."

I never get tired of this trail and you can actually leapfrog a series of trails from here (including Valecito Wash and Dos Cabezas Road) which will take you almost 50 miles south to Ocotillo. Be aware that a small section of this route will be through the challeging Diablo drop-off. This is a narrow slot with large wheel ruts and has a class five difficulty rating.