TR: Anza-Borrego Super Bloom 2019

Southern California and far-away places. Hiking, wildlife, cycling etc.

TR: Anza-Borrego Super Bloom 2019

Postby jfr » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:51 pm

Vicki and I backpacked into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and checked out the 2019 Super Bloom. It was truly spectacular. We got there at the right time of year, the third week of March.


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Vicki and the blooms along Highway 78. We were getting excited by this point.

We drove onward to Borrego Springs, then continued north as far as we could get on Coyote Canyon Road (without unduly risking the undercarraige of our Toyota Corolla sedan). We parked at a wide spot and got out our backpacks. Like it or not, non-4WD-ers have to walk in the desert.


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Looking back at the car over part of the "Third Crossing" of Coyote Creek near Lower Willows


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This is why we parked the car back at Third Crossing - 4WD is recommended here


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We climbed over the hill and get a view west toward Sheep Canyon. That's Square Top left of center


We continued downhill into Collins Valley, and were thrilled to discover that everything was green. Even the mountain slopes were green. Except where they were bright yellow, of course. Everything was blooming, big time. The main color was yellow, but hidden within the fields of yellow were countless other flowers: Purple and White and Red and, every so often, Orange. Entire bushes were erupting in blooms, but a closer look also revealed teeny, tiny plants in the sand with equally-tiny blossoms. It was a botanist's paradise.


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Beautiful clouds and a green desert, looking north across Collins Valley


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An old Cholla Cactus skeleton with Desert Dandelions in the background


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Panorama shot looking northeast toward Toro Peak


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We left the footpath and rejoined the sandy Coyote Canyon Road on our way to Sheep Canyon


There was an unattended campground at Sheep Canyon, where it cost $10 per night. People liked to stay there because there was always water (year-round) in the creek, and there were several waterfalls upstream. We'd explored it before, so we continued onward into Indian Canyon where all vehicles were prohibited. This is when backpackers have the advantage.

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The signs for the foot path to Indian Canyon and Cougar Canyon


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Wallace's Wooly Daisy, a very small plant - those are course sand grains below it


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Looking back down into Collins Valley from the Indian Canyon Trail


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Our tent and campsite looking west into Cougar Canyon


We decided to camp just outside Cougar Canyon, not far from Cougar Creek, which also flows all year long. Backpacking in the desert is always a trial unless you can camp near water, and we were happy to see the creek flowing strong this year. In other years we had to hike much further upstream to find any flowing water. We ate dinner, then took a walk as the sun set across the way on Toro Peak. Later on, the full moon rose and lit up the desert, and it was wonderful, even though we missed seeing all the stars.


The next morning we woke up late and didn't care. We had nothing planned for the day, except to check out the flowers and relax as much as possible.


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I took a photo of the dawn alpenglow on the granite walls of Cougar Canyon. Then went back to bed.


Eventually, we woke up and ate some breakfast. We got dressed and packed a light daypack with some lunch and plenty of water. It was predicted to be sunny, in the low seventies, which was about as good as it gets. Tomorrow was going to be hot, but today would be perfect. Then we headed out, hiking cross-country toward one of Indian Canyon's side canyons in the south. Like butterflies, we had no plan, but there were plenty of blossoms out there to flit off to and inspect.


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Vicki thinks her wild shorts are reminiscent of a superbloom - comparison with brittlebush flowers


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View from Indian Canyon northward, with Collins Valley and Toro Peak in the distance


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Hiking through the Super Bloom


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There were many patches of Wild Onion Flowers blooming


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Vicki standing on colorful granite stone amidst the blooms


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Panorama looking southeast from a ridge - we were heading up the wash on the left - it's all green and yellow


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Panorama looking north from the same ridge


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Orange Globemallow flowers


We were hoping to find a trickle of water up in the side canyon, but it turned out to be dry as a bone. Summer was on its way, it seemed. We decided that the views were less exciting down in the bottom of a canyon, so we headed back toward Cougar Canyon. It was also starting to get quite warm in the sun, and the only shade we knew about was under one of the trees just upstream from our camp. Attaining that shade became our new quest.


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Panorama shot looking south into Indian Canyon from the mouth of Cougar Canyon


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We took a break in the shade of a sycamore tree along Cougar Creek


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Relaxing in the cool shade


We took off our shoes and waded in the cold, flowing stream. The sand in the creekbed was deep and soft. We ate some lunch and then Vicki took a nap, while I read my book. Relaxing to the sound of a flowing creek was exactly what we needed.

An hour or so later we decided that we shouldn't stay there all day doing nothing. We got up and wandered around the mouth of Cougar Canyon, climbing on granite boulders and checking out the wildflowers.


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Vicki hatches out of what appears to be a granite dragon egg


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Vicki sitting high above Cougar creek on a huge granite boulder


Even though there was a nice breeze, we were still getting a bit warm in the sun, so we succumbed to sloth and headed for yet another shady spot near the stream. And Vicki took yet another nap.


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Shade in the desert is a rare and wonderful thing


Vicki eventually woke up and we headed back to camp, which was still in the sun. The air was cooling in the late afternoon, so this time she crawled into the tent and took an incredible third nap! This didn't really bother me much at all, as I had been getting a lot of reading done. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. This is what taking a vacation is all about.


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Late afternoon sun shining on Toro Peak from our campsite


We ate dinner and talked about tomorrow, when it was supposed to get really hot. Vicki didn't like the idea of hiking with a big pack in the roasting sun. We thought about waking up early and hiking out before it got too hot, but then thought about it some more. There was an almost-full moon out there. Wouldn't it be fun to hike in the desert under the moonlight? Oh, yes. This was sounding like a much better plan. It was positively romantic! So we went to bed before sundown, and I set my alarm for 3am.

Naturally, we both woke up at 2am, and we were wide awake. We tried to go back to sleep but it wasn't happening. Too many naps the day before, I suspected. I turned off the failed alarm and we started packing.


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We were ready to hike in the cool desert darkness by 4 AM


We used our headlamps along the footpath to Sheep Canyon (to avoid getting snagged by catclaw plants), but didn't need them at all on the dirt roads, where the sand was shining brightly in the moonlight. It was a great hike. Peaceful and beautiful. Not only was it downhill almost all of the way, but it was the perfect temperature for hiking. We made great time, and kicked out the five miles back to the car in about two hours.


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It's 6 AM and the sky is just starting to brighten as we near our car, with Venus in the east and the moon behind us


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Back at the car already. Time to take a short break, then head on home.


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Driving out to Borrego Springs with our headlights lighting the way. Good bye, Super Bloom!



For a bunch more photos (and videos) see my Flickr Album Page

For a topographic map and GPS tracks see my Caltopo Page



P.S. If you're retired and/or bored you can read the excruciatingly long version of this trip report on my website page

Happy Hiking!
My (collected) trip reports: http://hikingtales.com/
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Re: TR: Anza-Borrego Super Bloom 2019

Postby Ellen » Tue Apr 23, 2019 4:59 pm

Howdy JFR :)

Wow, wow and wow!!! Thanks so much for your TR and pictures.

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
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Re: TR: Anza-Borrego Super Bloom 2019

Postby Sally » Sun May 05, 2019 8:12 pm

Thank you for a most enjoyable TR and photo gallery, jfr! Ditto what Ellen said...WOW!
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