Showing posts with label Chronicles of Ghost Mountain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chronicles of Ghost Mountain. Show all posts

Thursday, January 08, 2009



First order of business this morning was to get ourselves an egg pocket & photograph it, so by 9 a.m. we were on the road headed for Calicos. Egg pockets go fast so we were lucky they still had some left. A few free cookie samples first & then we purchased our egg pocket. Set it on the table, took a few photos, & then we ate it. Took some great photos of Kelly wolfing her half down but she wouldn't let me put them in the photo album. Grabbed a couple of coffees to go (plus some more cookie samples) & headed off out of town for place about an hour or so away called, Mountain Palm Canyon Campground. Not too far from San Diego. AND, THIS IS AN EGG POCKET:))

We had been told there is a whole herd of elephant trees in one of the canyon's there & the guide book we had said they were there too, so that's what we were looking for........but, we never did find them. I think they must have rumbled away when they heard us coming.

It was a beautiful mornings drive from Borrego Springs to Mountain Palms & once again we were just bowled over by the majestic mountains all around us, the winding roads twisting through the desert, the big blue sky & the many hues & colors in the air, the rocks, & the mountains themselves. This is such a beautiful land & if I thought it was hard to go home last year, I'm really going to have a hard time of it this year. We talk a lot about staying in the American Southwest but we know it's just not probable for us. Not impossible, just not probable!!

We reached Anza-Borrego's Mountain Palm Canyon campground shortly after 11 & already the mornings sun was heating up. From the parking lot we saw palm trees up 2 of the 3 canyons so headed off up the one to our right. The trail led up a wide sandy wash but soon narrowed into a rock strewn path that we had a hard time finding in a few spots. The rocks soon turned into boulders & we had some good rock scrambling ahead of us. Took us about 15 minutes to reach the small grove of palms & we could hear voices nearby. A couple of older fellow hikers were perched on a rock under the palms taking a break. They were very helpful in answering our questions about the area & the older fellow actually lives in Borrego Springs. They had some good guide books with them & that was helpful. Another group of hikers with dogs came by on their way up so we decided to follow them. They were younger folks & were soon out of site as they quickly clambered over the large topsy turvey boulders. We persevered though & soon reached a second stand of palm trees & large bowl like plateau. These towering fan palms are truly awe inspiring. We were just trying to figure out a secondary route back down the canyon when the dog hikers returned from over a ridge. They had been looking for a standing water source they knew was in the area but never did find it. We asked about the elephant trees but nobody knew where they were.

In the company of the dog hikers we all headed back down the jumble of rocks to the first palm trees which we learned was called Mary's Grove. Stopped for a short rest here & the hikers watered their dogs. As is quite often the case we all asked where each other was from & wouldn't you know it, one of the fellow's Mother lives in Spencerport, NY. That's where Kelly grew up & her Mom & Dad still live there. Small world once again. It was a short rocky drop to the parking lot about a quarter mile away as we said good-bye to the dog walkers & headed up another canyon.


The second canyon walk also had a grove of palm trees plus some running water trickling down a sandy wash. We reached those palms in about 10 minutes, but still nothing looking like a grove of elephant trees. Took a break here & ate our peanut butter sandwiches in the shade of the majestic palms. We headed back down the sandy wet wash to the parking lot & were heading to the car when Kelly spotted a third path leading up a rocky slope. So, off we went again climbing steeply up a dusty path that someone had spent a lot of time lining with stones. We climbed for about 15 minutes until we reached a plateau of sorts. We were really hoping to see some elephant trees somewhere up here but the path just wandered aimlessly through the rocks & off across the desert plateau. A decision was made to turn back once again because by this time we were beginning to get a little pooped under the heat of the relentless sun. Back down the narrow rocky path & headed once more for the car. We were nearly at the car walking across a flat stretch of sand when unbeknownst to me at the time, Kelly felt an unusual twinge in her right ankle. She didn't think much of it at the time so didn't say anything. EGG POCKET

From the Mountain Palm Canyon campground we drove south to the Carrizo badlands overlook. Had debated about going all the way to Ocotillo but decided it was time to head for home. Once again we marveled at the beauty surrounding us. Just over the mountains about 40 short miles west of us lay the city of San Diego, but here in the peaceful desert we were basically the only people on the road. Might have seen half a dozen vehicles in about 3 hours. That would never happen back home anywhere that close to a major city!! THE DESERT IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE

Waved to Ghost Mountain as we went by again but we'll be heading back there in the morning. Took a slightly different route on our return to Borrego Springs this time. Instead of heading through Yaqui Pass we decided to come across the backside of the San Ysidro mountains & take the hair raising plunge down Montezuma's Grade which would land us right in Borrego Springs. It's an 8 to 9% grade for 11 miles all the way to the bottom. About half way down we came up behind a large Class C motorhome towing a fairly large trailer. it was about this time that we began smelling hot brake linings. Took me by surprise because I was staying off the brakes as much as possible & using the gears to keep my downward spiral in check. Thought occurred to me I might have a brake pad sticking but everything felt normal. The smell kept getting stronger. The Class C ahead slowed & moved to the right a bit & I was able to get around him on the left. Strangely enough, the hot brakes smell dissipated almost immediately. Only then did I realize it wasn't our brakes after all. It was the Class C & trailer's brakes we were smelling. The next thought that occurred to me was, if he loses his brakes he's going to come barreling down the mountain right behind us. After a few tight turns I never saw him again. He may still be on the side of that mountain somewhere white knuckled to his steering wheel forever. WE ATE OUR PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES IN THE SHADE OF THE PALMS

We were home by 3 & so far, all was well. Butch, Kapeesh, Doug, JoAnn, & Fillmore dropped by for a chat around 4. Talked about the day's hikes etc. Kelly went in & out of the motorhome a couple times to fetch a book & some maps & it was during one of these trips that her ankle let go but she hid the pain until everyone had headed back to their rigs. For Kelly to acknowledge or admit any kind of injury is a very rare thing. By the time I came into the motorhome her face was knotted in pain. She can't put any weight on her foot or turn it. Her toes felt numb & the pain was radiating up to her knee. I suggested we head for the medical clinic but she wouldn't have any part of that. And I thought I was the only stubborn one of the Bayfield Bunch. She iced her ankle & wrapped it but the pain didn't back off. Only thing that brought her some relief was a couple of aspirins later on. Right now she is using an old baseball bat as a cane to hobble around with & still cannot put any weight on the foot. We'll see what the morning brings. She's pretty darn stubborn you know....................................................

Sunday, January 04, 2009


It was nearly a year ago to the day that we first climbed the rugged path of Ghost Mountain leading to the old ruins & homestead of a man & his family who endured many hardships years ago to live a life free of society & all it's trappings. For some unknown reason I was very moved by the experience of walking through the ruins of what the family had called their home.......Yaquitepec. I took many pictures that day, & several days later we bought the book, Marshal South & the Chronicles of Ghost Mountain. I read that book cover to cover & it was the first book I had read in nearly 30 years. The blog I wrote about that day can be found here... Scroll down to January 4th & look for, Marshal South & Ghost Mountain.
On this trip back to the Anza-Borrego area I wanted to see where this man was buried & to-day we drove to Julian in search of Marshal South's final resting place.

The morning's weather was a mixture of sun & cloud. Rays of sunlight poked through into the Borrego Valley but large dark & ominous clouds were sitting on some of the mountain tops to the west & southwest, just the direction we were headed. Borrego Springs sits on the desert floor in the Borrego Valley at the foot of the San Ysidro mountains & the drive to Julian ascends to over 4000 feet high up in the Volcan Mountain Range to the southwest. It's a very winding & twisting road & as we headed upwards through the little settlement of Banner, the clouds came down to meet us. The sun was lost somewhere behind us & as we came around one of the tight curves with the windshield wipers fighting off the persistent rain. A rainbow suddenly appeared in the valley to our right. I was able to get pulled over on the shoulder & take a few photos before the rainbow faded into the mist. By the time we reached the little town of Julian it was very cold & we saw some remnants of the previous night's snowfall. This was our third visit to Julian & as the previous 2 times, we had trouble finding a parking place anywhere. This is a very touristy place & always crowded with people browsing in the many shops. Found a place one block off mainstreet & headed out on foot in the cold rain for downtown. Stopped into the Town Hall for a map of the town & to ask some questions. I wanted to see the fresco paintings Marshal South had done in one of the buildings which is now a Real Estate office. Luckily the office was open & I was able to take a few photos inside. Kelly had some browsing she wanted to do so we split up & I headed for the town's cemetery. Thanks to some excellent directions I found on the internet I was able to find Marshal South's plot with no trouble. As I stood there in the dreary rain looking at this man's grave I couldn't help but think of all his wonderfully descriptive writings about his life & times with his family up on Ghost Mountain in the Blair Valley, so many years ago.Marshal South authored a total of 102 articles & poems for Desert Magazine from 1939 to 1948. Eighty of these articles were about life on Ghost Mountain.

Thought we might grab a bite to eat & a coffee in Julian but after checking out the prices in a few places.....we got out of town!! Headed back down the twisting mountain road out of the cold depressing & dreary rain into the bright sunshine of the desert floor below & made a right turn onto S2 & the Blair Valley. We were in search of the Vallecito Stage Station which had been on the Butterfield Stagecoach route back in the late 1800's. That road took us right by Ghost Mountain where I hope to return one day next week for a last hike up the rocky twisting path to Yaquitepec. We finally reached our destination after traveling through a beautiful area of towering mountains & sweeping valley floors. So hard to imagine how the settlers & pioneers traveled these harsh lands in old buckboards, carts, & stagecoaches. They must have been a very hardy breed of people back then. Something we could all take a lesson from I'm sure.GHOST MOUNTAIN

We finally made it back to our rig just east of Borrego Springs shortly after 2 this afternoon. It had been a great 5 hour day trip & one I will always remember. We are just so fortunate to be here.....................................................


Thursday, February 21, 2008



Thanks to a good tip from my friend Bob in Kitchener, Ontario I was able to fix our broken flag pole to-day by inserting a steel rod in the center of the pole & using generous helpings of duct & electrical tape. Tightened a couple band-it clamps on too just for good measure. Workin gooooood:))

Took the dogs for a short walk & then went on a longer hike ourselves up & over some fairly rocky terrain. The rough stones are not always paw friendly. Another reading & relaxing, sunny & warm afternoon. I finally finished my Marshal South, Chronicles of Ghost Mountain book. Quite an accomplishment for me considering I haven't read a book from cover to cover for about 25 years. Tells you something about how much I enjoyed this book & the effect it has had on me:)) We are already looking forward to returning to the Ghost Mountain area of California in the fall of this year.

Decided to hike out into the desert after supper to take a few pictures of the big moon from atop a hill about a quarter mile away just in case it turns cloudy for to-morrow night's full moon. Good thing we took flash lights with us because it was a dark bit of walking & rock scrambling coming back. No easy task.......

Friday will probably be our last day here in the Darby Wells area west of Ajo. Saturday we'll pack up & head for Hickiwan Trails for one night & then we begin our long trek eastwards. To say that I'm feeling sad about our departure would be putting it very mildly. I have grown so accustomed to the peace & quiet & solitude of the desert that I'm going to find getting back into the old neighborhood routine at home.................very difficult this time!!!!