Wednesday, February 20, 2013


What an awesome adventure we had last Sunday!
We drove out to the Borrego desert in northern San Diego County for a hike.
We set out to hike to a Calcite mine.  We parked in a turn out area on the side of the road
 and hiked down into a wash and up, up, up into the hills.

This mine has an interesting history.  It was active during World War II.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the government mined calcite for bomb sights and anti-warcraft weaponry.  The calcite mined here was high quality.  When someone would view through it, there would be a series of colored rings.  When the center ring was held on a target, the person's head could move from side to side but the center ring would remain on the target.  Interesting!

There were areas that were covered in leftover bits of calcite crystals.
Most were cloudy but some of them were clear like glass.

Here's a vein of it in a wall of rock...

It wasn't a typical type of mine with a hole in the ground leading deep into the earth.
This mine is slits in the rock.  They look like someone used a giant knife to carve out slices of earth. The slits we saw were usually about four feet wide and 20 feet long.

The terrain was fascinating and ever changing.  There were huge sandstone rocks with holes and interesting patterns.  This one is probably three stories tall or maybe even bigger...

This was on top of a big hill that we climbed.  It was much harder than most of the rock and ground we'd walked on that day.  What an interesting texture.  I'm curious as to how it was formed.

There were some interesting plants on the top.  
They had silvery, white stems and were just starting to sprout leaves for spring.

The view from the top was amazing.  We could see a lot of the Borrego area.  
And, to the east and southeast, we could see the great Salton Sea.
It's amazing to see so much water in the desert.  But, what we see now is only a small amount compared to the past.  The whole area used to be under the ocean.  And, just decades ago, this lake was huge.

Another interesting thing we saw that day were these odd formations in the sandstone...

Here's one that was loose from the sandstone walls.  They were sitting all around
 in one area we walked through.  They were hard like cement and very heavy.

We were lucky to see this colorful lizard along the way.  He was over a foot long.

The mines and views were interesting and fun to see.  But, the best part of our day was about to come.

As we headed back down the mountain, we took a turn toward a slot canyon we'd
read about in our hiking guide book.  This is how it looked as we started to hike in...

It got narrower...

When we came upon this part it was so exciting...

It was very narrow and so smooth from all the water that has rushed through to form it.
And, the walls became very tall.  There were obstacles to climb up...

Some of the obstacles took some creative thinking to figure out how to get up and over.

And, sometimes down...

This is by far the most awesome slot canyon we've found in this area.


Sometimes the bottom was too narrow to walk.
So, sometimes, one foot on each side wall of the canyon was the best way to go through.
The grippy sandstone was very helpful!

This one took the most thought and multiple tries to find a way down.
We first tried straddling it by sitting on one side, feet on the other, and alternating weight to move over and down.  The canyon floor just beyond where I was sitting was six to eight feet feet down.
We eventually figured out a way down.

Sometimes, one shoe barely fit in the bottom...

Going back down was different but just as tricky...

Wow!  That was SO much fun!

After the slot canyon, we still had a lot of hiking to do to get back to the car.
And, there were still amazing things to see.  Like this giant piece of sandstone that had fallen from the wall.  It may look small but it's larger than a car...

Here's another area with fallen sandstone.  It may look like a small jumble but
the larger pieces are probably close to the size of our living room...probably much larger.

This huge tour vehicle passed us on the way back. 
I can't help but think of all the wonderful things they miss by touring the area in a vehicle.
I know they saw some wonderful things but I think they missed the very best parts.
Not to mention, a great workout!

We hiked four hours and our GPS said we hiked over six miles.
That included a LOT of hills.  We were very tired when we were done.
And, we were quite sore the next day.  But, it was SO worth it.  What a blast!

We love being out in nature.  And, we love hiking.  Great finds and adventures like this
are such a bonus.  I joked with hubby about how slot canyons are the kind of slots I like to play
and that we hit the jackpot that day!  Woo hoo!

Be sure to click on one of the pictures to view them large
 and get a better idea of the scale and fun we had.  


Sarah Jane said...

What an interesting day! I'm not much good at rock climbing or hiking, I think the slot canyon would be too scary for me lol! :-)
Thanks for sharing these interesting photos!

Sarah xx

Sandra said...

SO cool! IT's amazing how different the terrain is in different parts of the world - you get those wonderful desert vistas, and we (once we get out of the city and up north), have more the the forest and Canadian Shield terrain. You get sandstone, we get granite. One of these days, I'm going to have to check out your part of the world...

thewovenspoke said...

Wow I never knew that there wer mine sites near Borrego. I used to go there many years ago when I lived in Julian. Thanks for posting and it looks like you had a great time, this is the type of things we like to do.

lynn cockrell said...

What awesome fun this must have been! Those dome-shaped formations are very intriguing. It makes me guess at what might have formed them and left them with the shape(s) they are in. It must have been some powerful force of nature, for sure. How fortunate you are to be able to live near such astounding place!

Gabriela said...

What a fantastic trip!The views are gorgeous! Isn't nature amazing!

Deborah said...

You are so adventurous! This is a fabulous area! Amazing photos!!!

Magdalena said...

That really looks like an adventure, so wonderful photos. Thank you for sharing your great trip with us.

Shirley said...

Good Morning, The snow is coming down and I am catching up with friends on blog land since I am home all day. Just visiting with hubby on the phone and not going to the nursing home today. I enjoyed the pictures of your hike and think how my oldest boy would love to do it. He is my outdoor adventurer when he gets the opportunity. Rocks are so pretty and you can see so many interesting things. Have a great day. Your Missouri Friend.

Roxie said...

I trust you checked the weather reports to make sure there were no sudden storms expected? People drown in those slot canyons every couple years or so. Flash floods.

It looks like you had a splendid time, and what marvelous photos you got. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

I think those dome-like things are petrified dinosaur poops.

judith said...

What fun!!! Those formations almost looked like upturned pottery.

September Violets said...

What an amazing area!! It looks like a place to easily get lost in. The formations are beautiful, and I imagine you were snapping a lot more pictures than you've shown here ;) Isn't erosion wonderful? What an adventuresome pair you are to climb down through those narrow spots ... I think my husband would have turned back, I always annoy him by wanting to see around the next bend! If this was all sandstone, your hands must've been raw by the end of your hike. Thanks for sharing all these photos, I'm going to go back through them again now to see them larger :) Wendy

Kadee Willow said...

What an amazing day! You did a great job showing us the area and also giving the history. So surprised that the ocean used to be there and later a lake. Thanks for the tour!

Patty said...

Oh, wow! What a wonderful hike! I can't get my hubby to walk for 10 minutes or ride bikes with me. He can walk on the golf course though - go figure. He's good in other ways though. I will just have to find friends who will do these things with me when I retire in June! I imagine you slept well - I love that feeling!