Sunday, March 22, 2009

What a trip into the wilderness!

There is something that is very beautiful about the desert. It is a sort of serene, desolate place, where you can get in touch with yourself, and escape from the traffic, noise, and clutter that is the urban scene. My adventure this past weekend took me to the Anza Borrego State Park, and an inviting little spot on the map called Fish Creek Primitive Camp, way out in the middle of the Western Colorado Desert. Equipped with everything one could possibly need in a remote, isolated sort of place, it was off to find solitude. Upon arrival at Fish Creek, it was everything that I had hoped for - just a few rugged souls setting up camp in the late hours of the afternoon as that sun just began to dip past the stark sandstone of Split Mountain. Once camp was set up, I had no sooner sat down to enjoy the old peace and quiet, when a wagon train of sport utility vehicles began to pour into the camp, stuffed full of rowdy pre-teen boys. I watched in amazement as carload after carload pulled into camp and the Boy Scouts of America began to unload and marvel at the pit toilets. That noisy pack of boogers dashed any hopes that I may have had about serenity, and then the hot wind began to pick up, in forceful gusts. It was sure to be a long night.

In the morning, I awoke with high hopes of leaving Rug Rat Camp behind, and finding a bit of blissful isolation along the trail that cut through Split Mountain, and through Fish Creek Wash. it was to be a nice long hike featuring a bit of awsome geologic force on display in the walls of the canyon, and this proved to be very bit as impressive as I had hoped. The trail, however, was not the sort of lonely desert hiking trail that offers a person the chance to escape. It was more like a dirt highway, as jeeps, SUVs, and all manner of vehicles continuously passed by, their fat, pinkish, air conditioned inhabitants smiling and waving at me as they stirred up clouds of dust. After hiking for miles, I just felt like scowling as the 100th passenger shot me a friendly wave out the window - as if I was some steward of the lonely desert, a ghost that they felt obligated to acknowledge, or some crazy relic that was still holding on to an antiquated idea that they felt guilty about abandoning while they rode by with the AC on max. I pressed on until my camel pack was drained, and then, with my hands and legs swollen, marched back to camp.

I had enough of the dust, crowds, kids, and wind, and so decided to pack it all up and head for cooler and greener country. After driving a little over an hour into the southern portion of the Cleveland National Forest, I found a wonderful little campground at Cibbets Flats. It was cool and shady, with the sound of a creek meandering somewhere through the oak trees. The campsites were comfortable and spaced far enough apart, so you could get some feeling of privacy. After a great steak dinner, with mashed potatoes and gravy, cold ranch salad, and hot monkey's pick oolong tea, I enjoyed a few blissful moments by the campfire with my cigar. I had planned on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail the next day, but it was a cold, windy and rainy morning. After packing up, yet again, it was back onto road, headed for home. A short, but profitable stop at Viejas Casino helped to pass the time while the rain died down, and I arrived home in the afternoon.

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