Colin's Journal

13 January 2006
33 miles
Borrego Springs--> Anza
5 miles run, 8 biked, 20miles hiked

Had a great night's sleep: we planned on waking at 5am, but I had the bad luck of being woken by nature at 4:55am, and stumbling outside to use the bathroom. We packed up some muffins that a neighbor of Reena's had given us yesterday and had cold cereal and bagels for breakfast. We started biking while it was still dark, and the horizon was just turning pink. Grant, Corey and Bill each ran two miles on the way to the trailhead for the day. We worked on perfecting the practice of not stopping when switching bikers, so a biker would hand off his backpack and helmet to the runner, hop off the bike into a run, and the runner would hop on midstride. Very efficient, and much slower than just stopping.

Dawn struck in full force while we were travelling, and once we hit the Anza-Borrego/Coyote Canyon trailhead, it was my turn to run. A very cool trail to run, two river crossings, and the sand wasn't too deep. Six miles later we stopped where cars could not go any further, packed all the bikes into Reena's car, ate some muffins, took some pictures, and started hiking.

It was a beautiful trail, we picked through the desert growth on no particular path at first, then found a precarious single track perched on the canyon wall that brought us around to the main trail through the center. We soon passed through an area known as "Lower Willows", where there was thick brush with a trail cut through it and water running. It felt almost like a jungle in Puerto Rico, except it was cool and dry inside of it. Then right away we stepped out of it back in the sun and baked sand. We kept hiking steadily through the canyon, with steep mountains on each side, funneling us towards our destination (though there is a heated debate going on even as I write this about whether Bill could have navigated the canyon without GPS or a map). We went through "Middle Willows", another respite from the sun, before coming out to the desert. In the desert, there were some areas where we followed a dirt/sand road, some where we followed a riverbed, and others where we would just cut through the scraggly brush in a direction we wanted to go.

We stopped for lunch for 15minutes at 11am, then continued the steady hike. PB+J on tortillas. I am very proud of my growing proficiency at rolling tortillas (thanks Stephen), where you fold in the top and bottom a little before rolling it, so the filling doesn't spill out. Just thought I'd mention that.

Along the way, we climbed from ~650 ft at the trailhead to a little under 4,000 ft, though we never really noticed the climb until we got to the "Turkey Track", where we climbed 600ft in a half mile. Grant had the GPS and kept us rolling along between 3.5 and 4mph, and would give us elevation updates every few minutes. Around this time (between Middle Willows and the Turkey Track) we also saw a historical marker mounted on two boulders next to the trail. It said that Anza had camped there, and that a woman had given birth to the first "white" baby in California on Christmas, 1775. Anza took four days to get through Coyote Canyon (take THAT, Juan!), but it was apparently snowing then. Plus there was this woman giving birth.

Soon we arrived at the Turkey Track, so named because the four trails meeting there resemble a turkey track. We climbed up the side of the mountain ahead of us which was steep and rocky, reminiscent of the Phelps trail in Williamstown in terms of steepness. Along the way were switchbacks, so you could see the trail you'd already climbed below you, as well as breathtaking views of the valley we'd been walking in all day. We crested the top of the climb, only to see our path winding along the side of more mountains ahead of us, as well as a ranch perched on a ledge in the distance.

We followed the rolling terrain past a Pacific Coast Trail marker, where someone remarked that (our former assistant coaches) Steve Pasche and Yarrow Moench would have hiked years earlier. We finally exited the trail to be met with four growling, barking dogs. All six of us edged past, but as they got close to Rogo, Bill screams "HEY" at them, making them immediatly whimper and scamper off. From here we made one last climb, out of the desert, and into California (technically "high desert").

We showed up at the Cary ranch and found all our stuff already delivered, and met Dick Cary- a bigger man wearing cowboy boots who clearly wasn't this way out of style, but rather as his way of life. Reena took us on a tour, showed us an Anza plaque here (which described him as an "Indian fighter") and some cave paintings, probably of Anza (as there were horses, which were first brought through here by Anza),. She also showed us "fertility rocks", meant to look like vaginas, which Corey posed for a picture on.

Dick made us some hamburgers for dinner and we all sat and talks. He said he regrets not having listened to his dad's stories on the history of the ranch (including Anza) when he was younger, since now that history is what keeps the ranch alive.

Notes from Interview with Reena

Day 13

Day 14

Day 14 Journal