Monday, June 23, 2014

Pictograph Trail - Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

We're perched on our favorite mountain ridge, in the Cuyamaca Mountains for a couple of weeks. From where I'm sitting, if I look down and to my right, I can see the Yaqui Well/Tamarisk Grove campground area of Anza-Borrego. If I look behind me, I can see all the way into Mexico. Closer than Mexico though, and also visible, is the Little Blair Valley area. As the crow flies, it is only about 12 miles away. Unfortunately, we aren't crows. So it takes over an hour to get there using a combination of roads.  I don't mind though, because we're almost a mile high in elevation. When we left here it is was about 77 degrees. When we dropped down into the desert, it was HOT and made it up to 104 degrees. It gets MUCH hotter there.

This was taken from our camp site. The little notch just above center is the saddle between Little Blair Valley and Smuggler's Canyon. There is a hiking trail leading up to the saddle and down the other side.
feel free to embiggen photos to enhance your viewing pleasure
This is the view to my right as I'm typing this. Once we got to the bottom of the Banner Grade, we headed towards the horizon. Once we got to the other side of the large mountain (Granite Mt.) to the right. We went right and eventually into Little Blair Valley. 

Down the mountain

Past a dry lake bed

Just about to the bottom of the notch in the first photo. Except for the Border Patrol helicopter that checked us out, we didn't see anther human the whole time we were there. Mad dogs and Englishmen, I suppose...

Looking back towards our campground (on top of the ridge in the middle) from the trail head. 

This is an enlarged and cropped section of the previous photo. Our RV is in the right side of those pine trees on the ridge line. That spot is about 12 miles away and almost a mile higher. Those two little white spots are part of the California Wolf Center which is involved in reintroducing wolves into the state. They have several packs of wolves there and you should hear them all howl. Spooky, beautiful and amazing. If you are ever in the Julian area, it is well worth taking the time to visit.

Geez, that was a lot of writing and photos and we're just now getting to the subject of the post. We're finally up trail a bit. You can still see where we are camped.

Except for hiking in sand and uphill most of the way, this 2-mile out and back trail is pretty easy. However, once you consider all the little side trips I take, looking at things that catch my eye (or because I'm ADD) you can probably add a mile to it.

Looking back down the trail

This is some tough country

Just because I like it.

I'm looking at every peculiar rock for rock art. You never know what you might find.

Coming down the other side of the saddle 

See the large rock at ground level in the distance?

This is that rock!

As is...


A first glance all the pictos appear to be red.

Looking at the rock closer it looks like there is some yellow present. The dark pictos in this DStretched version are actually yellow. (I'm still a novice).

You can see some of the yellow in this one.

Finally! Yellow...

I've never seen yellow (or in this enhanced case brown) diamond chains. There is even an anthropomorphic figure to the left of the sunburst. 

Red and Yellow chains in the same spot. Based on the red diamond chains, this site appears to be (at least in part) related to female puberty initiates. Some of you might remember my earlier post on the subject. 

A lone bedrock mortero at the site. That doesn't mean there aren't many more in the vicinity...

only because I thought it was pretty

Although my Granny was an expert and knew more about Joshua Tree than anybody I've ever met or heard of, she was no slouch when it came to Anza-Borrego. What she loved the most about Anza-Borrego was that until recently, there were very few restrictions relating to where you went and where you camped. She and and my step-granddad, really liked to get away from people. That is very easy to do here because you can camp just about anywhere. Pick a spot on any back country road and you can camp as long as you are a car's length away from the road. It was and pretty much still is wild, beautiful and desolate place.

A bit about Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Largest desert park in the country
Second largest state park in the country
500 miles of dirt roads (you can camp anywhere, as long as you are a car length away from any dirt road)
Almost 5,000 cultural sites (this is one of them) with only 20% of the park surveyed to date
28 mountain peaks and summits
The world's largest wooden train trestle
12 designated Wilderness areas withing the park


  1. That's quite a change in temperature.
    You always manage to find the rocks with artwork. You should consider putting your photos together in a book, Pat.

  2. A beautiful, stark area. Were you in the RV when you camped? When I was in this area in the winter I was always glad to be in the camper at night, under blankets.

  3. you're not kidding about rough country. wow! love all the vistas and views and rocks. you're an expert at finding the pictographs, and i'm glad you share them with us.

  4. It is a beautiful place, Pat. Thanks for sharing.

    You mentioned Julian - ahhh, memories of apple pie. :-)

  5. What an interesting, beautiful, remote place, Pat!! And your captures are superb as always! Next best thing to being there myself -- as always!! Hope you have a great new week!!

  6. Gosh, do you know how exotic it sounds me me that you can see Mexico in the distance? It reminds me of the first time I saw France in the distance from England!

    I've always wondered if there were wild animals roaming around in the US. I'm so glad they are reintroducing wolves to the area. It is so important.

  7. 5000 cultural sites with only 20% surveyed. Sounds like a gold mine to me! I'd like to see that train trestle (hint hint) ;-)

    I'm stoked to see the yellow pictograph, you must have been like a little kid.

  8. Gorgeous shots, Patrick, and beautifully stark terrain!

  9. Yep, thanks for adding yet another place on my "to visit" list! :) Is it wrong I want your life? Because I want your life.

  10. Amazing. And so very different from what I see every day. - pictographs included.

  11. Wonderful shots.

  12. Stunning! I'm amazed that you can find the pictographs in the ocean of rocks. You have both the artistic eye and the eyes of an explorer. Thanks for sharing.

  13. 104 degrees...just reading about it warms me up. :) As usual, the photos are stunningly clear and beautiful. I always feel like I'm right there with you in these posts. Thanks for sharing, Pat.

  14. Alex J. Cavanaugh - It is a big change. Thanks for the encouragement Alex. This rock was pretty easy to find. It's the only pictograph site in the park that they officially talk about.

    Should Fish More - Yep, we were in our RV. Camping is a relative term, right? Believe me, I've spent far more than my share of nights, sleeping on the ground. The RV makes it much cheaper to travel (as you know). We rarely eat in restaurants or spend the night in a hotel. I agree, it's nice to be warm.

    TexWisGirl - Very rough! Like I said, this spot was easy. Sometimes, it is very difficult. I agree that I'm pretty good at it, but I know a few people who are better at it, than I am. It's nice to have time to devote to it also.

    Sally - Thanks Sally! I agree that it is beautiful.

  15. Sylvia K - Thanks Sylvia! You are right, it is all of those things. I hope you have a nice week also.

    Mandy Southgate - I agree with you about being able to see into another country. Overall, I prefer to be looking into France. There are a lot of wild animals in the US. Most people who haven't been here think that it's all cities. The people congregate in certain areas, but most of the US, is country.

    Wayne - It is a gold mine, but much of this place is remote, and extremely rough. Anza-Borrego is a place where you can easily die, if you aren't prepared and don't keep your wits about you.

    William Kendall - Thanks William! The more time you spend there, the more beautiful it becomes.

  16. VEG - I hope you do get to visit it someday. My life is available for a reasonable sum. But Wait! If you order now, you will receive two of lives, for the price of one. Shipping and Handling on both lives apply.

    RuneE - Thanks! I'd say that almost everybody is in that same boat. Most people avoid the desert.

    ladyfi - Thanks so much!

    #1Nana - This one was easy, just keep hiking and keep your eyes open. Thanks for the nice words!

    Rosemary Nickerson - Thanks Rosemary! I appreciate the nice words. Yep, 104 will warm you up in a hurry.

  17. You do find such stunning sights, Pat. Pretty spectacular art and vistas.

  18. I love your pictures!! Especially the black and white one. What a beautiful place.

  19. You have been finding so many pictographs, and I am amazed that they are still in quite good condition. Yes, the area is rough but also very photogenic!

  20. Some beautiful photos! I love those pictograms!

  21. That's beautiful but very rough countryside. It's amazing where you find pictographs!

  22. Robin Andrea - Thanks Robin! A lot of people hate the desert, but we love it.

    Baby Sister - Thanks Amanda! It is beautiful there.

    EG CameraGirl - Some are in great condition and some have totally disappeared. I have a lot more, but I'm too bogged down to post them.

    Leovi - Thank you Leovi! I love them also.

    Al - You are so right about that Al. Beautiful and rough. I know that there is rock art in your area also.

  23. Incredibly beautiful place -- I am so in awe of your ability to find those pictographs. Heck I'm in awe that you can climb and walk that far (we used to be better at it). Isn't it great to have your house along with you though, for dinner and sleep after your day out in the desert! I can imagine how quiet it must be.

    We are now in an area of Alaska that sort of reminds me of parts of the desert by JT and the Salton Sea, with lots of acres of nobody and then a lot of tumble-down shantys . Which seem like it would be much more dangerous to live in up here where it kinda' gets cold in the winter.

  24. You caught some truly lovely colours in those photos, Pat

  25. It's gonna get hot here this week. Not 104 degrees hot, though. But, considering the winter we had, I'd be okay with even THAT.

  26. Sallie (FullTimeLife) - Thanks so much Sallie. This one was easy, because the location is fairly well known. My hiking and climbing skills may be good for my age, but they are nothing compared to what they used to be. You are right about having an RV to return to. I have to admit though, I enjoyed camping in this area also. Not very many people there at all. It can be dangerous in both places, deadly cold up there and deadly hot down here. thanks again!

    DEZMOND - Thanks Dezmond! It's beautiful there.

    Al Penwasser - For me, the dry heat out here is easier to take. You folks have been getting hammered back there.

  27. My motto (living in Phoenix) is always go UP in altitude. As high as you can stand before you pass out!

    We're planning a long road trip over the next few days.

    I've been unable to post anything we're doing because of some issues with a family member. Don't quite trust her not to break in with her evil henchman.

    We've actually been doing some really fun little trips!

    Hopefully someday soon I can start sharing them again!

    Have a wonderful Fourth of July!

  28. A-B is one of my favorite places. Just carry your kit and camp anywhere. My favorite view is what the old locals call the poor man's grand canyon.

  29. Jenny - I know what you mean about the altitude. We'll be back in the same place in about two weeks. It's supposed to about 85 on top of the mountain and about 110 down in the desert (of course we will be spending time down there). I happy that you are out and about again Jenny! Looking forward to your photos. Thanks and you have a nice Fourth of July also.

    altadenahiker - You told me about the "poor man's grand canyon" a couple of years ago. I tried to find out where (and what) it was and couldn't find anything! I believe it though and will keep looking. I wish my granny was still alive. She was one of the old timers who would probably know.

  30. Some amazing shots here Pat! And its rather sad that we are not sure they would get some fabulous views all the time :)
    -- An empty corridor...

  31. Wonderful post - great looking place, although the heat would be a bit much for me!

    Sorry for slow reply - very hectic month!

    Stewart M

  32. You visit such wonderful and interesting places and you capture their beauty and history.

  33. The landscape is really remarkable, isn't it?!! such rough terrain but so incredibly beautiful. Those pictographs are so interesting.
    Wonderful images Pat.

  34. The rock art is amazing and the blue skies are incredibly beautiful!

  35. I guess you can spend a couple of days in the area and still have not seen all of it.


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