My latest jaunt was to explore the Borrego Badlands in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Again, for this exploration my friend Bruce came along. Bruce has more experience navigating with GPS instruments than I have and that proved to be indispensable. We headquartered in Borrego Springs at the Oasis Inn. When Jane and I had stayed there a few months ago, when we were in the desert to photograph the Orionid meteor shower, we had a mouse in the room that kept us on edge most of the night. This time, Bruce and I were not bothered by a mouse but instead a noisy ceiling fan kept us from a restful slumber.
From the Oasis Inn, we day-tripped to various locations in the Park. Typically, we left before sunrise, returned during mid-day, and ventured out again to capture sunsets. Photographers are an odd lot. For sunrise and sunset we want high, wispy cirrus clouds to capture the sun’s color, but at night we want clear skies to capture dim star light. The rest of the day we want dramatic cumulus clouds to intensity arid desert scenes. Well, of course, we could not have it all go our way. Star photography was spoiled by dark layers of low, stratus clouds and some days the desert sky was devoid of any clouds. There was sufficient variety in cloud cover, however, to make the exploration worthwhile.
In preparation for this trip, I had made a list of the areas in the Park I wanted to photograph. We were able to find all the sites in the north portion of the Park but will have to revisit the Borrego Badlands to photograph sites in the southern portion. A mix up with our reservations at the Butterfield Ranch RV Resort caused us to miss that part of the explorations.
All the sites we visited to photograph were in remote areas of the Park, accessed by way of unimproved, dirt trails. We had good maps and for many locations also had coordinates. That is where Bruce’s experience with navigating with global coordinates was essential. With his GPS device he was able to not only point us in the right direction, but could also keep track of our route so we could find our way back. Irrespective of this technology, at times we struggled big time to find our way. This was especially the case when we decided to take a short cut to the Pumpkin Patch from Split Mountain Road through the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. This is a vast area of the desert where ATVs, quads and dune buggies can drive wherever they want and as fast as they want. The entire area has been traversed by recreation vehicles and established trails only exist on paper, like our map. Since we could not discern an actual dirt road, we just followed the most likely tracks and that got us a bit lost. Thanks in part to some helpful campers, we eventually found our way but could not really vouch that we found a short cut.
So not only was this an exploration of the Borrego Badlands it was also an adventure in navigating the dirt tracks and always being grateful that we found our way. Some of the off-the-beaten-track locations we photographed were The Slot, Rainbow Wash, Hills Of The Moon Wash, Pumpkin Patch, Split Mountain, the Elephant Tree, Seventeen Palms Oasis, and the dry lake bed of Lake Clark.
Images from this trip can be found in the State Parks gallery under Anza Borrego Desert State Park.