Curves & Swerves -> Slot Canyons & Washes, Anza Borrego State Park, CA
As a photographer I’m always into the way lines and light flow through a picture, so one of my fav fun things to do is to explore slot canyons and washes. We’ve seen a fair few good ones in our time and last year we explored “The Slot“, a very picturesque and aptly named spot in the southern section of massive 600,000 acres (2,400 km2) Anza Borrego State Park. Although we’ve had a hard time getting our butts out of our fine boondocking spot this year, yesterday afternoon we did finally muster up the gumption to head a short ways east on S22 and explore the wonderfully quiet Palm Slot.
This fine cavern of curves lies hidden in the badlands on the eastern corner of Anza Borrego State Park. It snakes along both sides of the Calcite Mine trail, the site of a mine (not surprisingly) which was used to produce high quality calcite (again, rather expected) for bomb sights & anti-aircraft weaponry during WWII (now, there’s the interesting bit). The trip to the mine is a serious 4×4 jeeping trail which drops almost vertically off S22 and leads to some fabulous views further on, but for those of us without the appropriate wheels you can simply park at the top of the road**, hike down to the bottom and turn left towards the slot canyons. A small mile later and you’ll enter a rocky-walled world of your own.
We took the trip with doggie on a clear and warm winter afternoon. Like almost everything in this park, if you go a little off the regular beaten track you’ll find yourself wonderfully and completely alone. Palm Slot, for whatever reason, is one of the lesser-known attractions here so it makes for a most serene and quiet outing. For several hours we hiked, climbed and explored the curves of this wonderful natural creation with nary another soul or sound in sight. Plus, of course, took a few pics. A whole day of curves and swerves all to ourselves. Not too bad if I say so myself!
The other side of this photographic expedition took us back to our boondocking spot (where else) and on our bikes to Clark Dry Lake Wash (my own name), again just east of our site. Now washes are curious little desert phenomena which create a whole little eco-system of their own. They are basically the highway lanes of the little rain that falls every year in this arid environment. Water gets routed and flows along these well-defined paths creating a moist bed for plants and animals. You’ll find desert mistletoe, scrubs, willow trees, birds, and (by far the most interesting thing, according to Polly) bouncing, springing jackrabbits. In winter the washes firm up and become jeeping grounds and bike paths….as well as very cool photo settings.
We’re actually on our last legs here at Borrego Springs before getting called to the ocean and things thereof. I’ve got one more round-up post with a few last pics, a few sunsets (what else) and a few more chats with our boondocking neighbours before I take you to the beach. Stay tuned for the next episode….
**To get to Palm Slot travel east from Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs on Highway S-22 about 18.5 miles. Just past mile marker 38, on the south side of S22 you’ll see a dirt parking lot with a sign for Truckhaven Trail. Park here and cross the road to hike into the Calcite Mine trail opposite. Once you get to the bottom of the first steep drop, turn left and follow the sandy bed to the slot canyon.