Category Archives: desert

San Felipe, Thanksgiving 2011

 

San Felipe Panorama

San Felipe Bay

Cactus

The Valley of the Gods

Kinsee and I went to San Felipe with her family and Derrik for Thanksgiving. More pictures on Flickr.

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Moab, UT and The Desert

The Only Picture I Took All Weekend

The Only Picture I Took All Weekend

Kinsee, the dogs and I went camping in Moab, UT this past weekend. Durango is on the edge of where the high desert meets the San Juan mountains, but the hot summer weather has been pushing me towards the mountains until now. With the weather getting cooler, and the mountains getting their first dusting of snow recently, we headed out to the desert.

I’d never been to Moab before, never even been to Utah at all, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the deserts of Southern California, Anza Borrego and Joshua Tree and their surrounding areas. For the most part Moab was different. It still has the same “desert feel” to it, a feeling I can’t quite describe but love. Something about how wide open it is, how free and liberating it feels. Much of Utah is brilliant red rocks, arches and towers, but the area where we camped, 10 miles north of town on BLM land just outside Arches National Park was different, sure there were red cliffs in the distance, and depending upon where you stood you had a great view of Arches NP, but for the most part the surrounding area reminded me of the high deserts of Southern California only with more juniper trees.

I got my (two wheel drive) truck stuck on a 4WD road at midnight looking for where our friends were camped. Luckily some folks from Crested Butte were camping just down the road and pulled us out of the sand/ditch. We finally found said friends and beer drinking around the fire ensued. The next day opened up with a lazy morning and mountain biking followed by afternoon naps and more time spent around the fire. The weather was perfect until Sunday morning when we got a bit of rain, we packed it up fairly early and went into town to check things out. We had breakfast and hit the road. Picked up some hitchhikers heading back to Durango from a weekend of climbing in Canyonland’s.

As we crossed the border from Utah to Colorado the false summer we’d driven to returned to the fall we’d run from, if only temporarily. Not only were there trees, but the leaves were yellow, golden and red, the daytime weather crisp and nights below freezing.

When we got back I saw that the KSUT One Book Four Corners this month is The Secret Knowledge of Water by Craig Childs, a book about water in the desert. I decided to pick it up as I’m a little homesick for the desert right now. It’s started off slow but I’m hoping it picks up.

Celebrating Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey died 20 years ago tomorrow. I’d never even heard his name until at least 10 years after he died. But since the first page I read in The Monkey Wrench Gang I’ve been captivated by his writing. I’ve read nearly all of his books since. I agree with him on a lot of things, and disagree on a lot of other things, but I always find his writing thought provoking and entertaining.

Monday at Maria’s Bookshop in Durango there’ll be some people gathering and reading to celebrate old Cactus Ed. I’m excited to go and meet some like minded people, hear Ken Wright and Kate Niles (among others) read and just have a good time.

There’s more info at The San Juan Almanac and Maria’s Bookshop.

Santa Ana Winds

Santa Ana winds are my favorite weather phenomena. Santa Ana winds happen in Southern California (I wonder if they happen other places in the world?) in the fall and winter, the wind blows in from the east towards the ocean, usually getting warmer closer to the coast. They’re unseasonably warm and windy. I’m not really sure what causes them, scientists say it’s a misconception that it’s hot air from the desert, something to do with adiabatic compression but ya got me.

Santa Ana winds are coming back to San Diego this weekend and I’m excited. Most people hate them but I love it. I heard on the radio this morning that it would be in the 80’s this weekend, but this weather report says only low 70’s. Either way it’s going to get dry, windy and warm. A bad combo for fires, but otherwise nice and balmy weather.

Desert

A rattlesnake in Anza Borrego

Rattlesnake in Anza Borrego

Until recently I wasn’t planning on being anywhere near a desert this fall/winter, I had plans to move to Seattle and enjoy some rain and real weather. Well things change and now with no thoughts of leaving San Diego, I’ll be here for “desert season” (I always feel funny saying that, because most people assume that means I’m going four-wheeling or dirt bike riding).

Anza Borrego State Park might be my favorite place on earth (for semi-short periods of time that is). I love the feeling of freedom, there’s plenty of wide open space and very few people. I love the way the landscape looks, and how there are so many different types of landscapes across the desert. In the morning you can be hiking through a rocky mountainous area, in the evening spelunking through caves and camping on a sandy wash in the bandlands just a few miles away.

Seeing a bighorn sheep in the wild has been one of the high points of my life (seriously!)

Speaking of bighorn sheep, they’re being threatened by the US Federal Government on multiple fronts. First, the Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed reducing the designated habitat by 55%. Read more about it here.

And then there’s the new border fence they’re looking to build on the Mexico/US border. No one knows what measures (if any) will be taken to ensure that bighorns in the US can mingle and breed with bighorns in Mexico. Building a giant wall through the desert could have disastrous effects on the bighorn sheep in both countries. Read more about the border wall and it’s effect on desert animals here.

A couple of my extended family members (both of whom I sadly don’t know well enough) have devoted their entire adult lives to Anza Borrego, and restoring the bighorn sheep population in the area specifically.

I’m already counting down the days until the temperature drops enough to enjoy the days out in the desert. I know that November is about the earliest time of year one can be comfortable hiking around during the day, but I also know I’m anxious and I’ll probably end up out there in the 100 degree heat sometime much sooner than that.

More pictures from some of my adventures in the desert can be seen on flickr.