On our second full day in Borrego Springs, California, we did a couple of short slot canyon hikes. We do enjoy our slot canyons.
Our intent was to do a guided bird walk at 7:30 a.m. this morning. But, when it was only 30 degrees out, we quickly determined we're not that dedicated to birding.
Finally, we got out and about around noon. We drove east on Hwy S-22 to mile marker 38 where we parked in the small roadside parking area. There is also a "call box" there to help see it from a distance.
On that side of the road, the south side, there is a trail called Truckhaven. But we crossed the road to the Calcite Mine Trail. We read about two slot canyons off the mine trail, so we came to check them out. This is the view out toward the mine from the trailhead. The mine is about two miles in.
We hiked in, but you can also drive. The first part of the road is pretty rough but about a quarter mile in, you can make a left off the Calcite Mine Road into the sandy bottomed South Fork of Palm Wash.
Most vehicles can make the drive to the beginning of the slot canyon as long as it's dry. There was a Jeep tour vehicle there when we arrived.
The entrance to the slot, which is about three quarter of a mile from S-22 where we parked, is clearly marked with a "Foot Traffic Only" sign.
You know you are in the right place when walk in and immediately see this natural bridge that you walk under.
The easy accessibility and this natural bridge make this slot canyon a popular hike. It's a pretty walk ...
and takes another fifteen to twenty minutes before you get to the actual slot section.
We had to scramble up in a couple of places to continue.
The narrowest part was fairly short ....
before it opened up on the other side. As soon as we found a nice spot, sun for me and shade for Linda, we had lunch.
After lunch we continued on. We came to this large split rock, which would be a good place to turn around.
However, it was a fairly easy scramble around, so we continued on. Eventually, we came to these fallen rocks blocking the path.
It was a much more difficult scramble to get around and over those, so I went ahead to see if it was worth Linda going over. On the other side there was another couple who were, until my arrival, enjoying the quiet seclusion. There was a dry waterfall, and we determined it was the end of the line.
So, it really wasn't worth climbing over those rocks unless you just wanted a secluded place for lunch or a rest. I scrambled back out and we returned the way we came.
One more shot of the granite rocks stuck in the sandstone in the slot.
On the way out, we passed a few folks that were asking whether or not we found the palm trees. This hike is known as the "Palm Slot" but I think it's because it's part of "Palm Wash" - there weren't any palms or evidence of prior palms.
According to my GPS, it was three quarters of a mile from the Jeep to the canyon entrance and another three quarters of a mile from the canyon entrance to the end, so the roundtrip, hiking in and out, was about three miles. Of course, you could drive in and cut that in half, but we need the exercise.
Back out of the wash on the main Calcite Mine Road, we decided to go look for a second, less-traveled slot canyon in the Middle Fork of Palm Wash. The information I had said to travel up the Calcite Mine Road about a mile and the road takes a steep descent into the canyon. I figured we were already a quarter mile in, so it should be about three quarters of a mile up the rough, rocky road.
Once again, you could drive in, but that road was really rough. High clearance was definitely necessary.
That walk was a bit tougher.
At what I thought was about a mile in, the road didn't take a steep dip into the canyon as my directions said. There was a road off to the right with a sign that said "Palm Wash" ....
but my directions didn't say anything about a fork in the road or taking a right, so I thought we had to stay on the main road. Well, we should've taken the right.
We ended up walking another half mile up toward the mine looking for a steep descent that never happened, before determining we screwed up. Looking at the GPS and seeing the mine in the distance, we were well more than a mile in. Looking down, we could see a slot canyon and wondered if that's where we should be.
So, we reversed course. I caused us to hike about a mile out of our way, and I wasn't sure Linda was ready to finish this adventure. But she hung in there.
At least we had a nice view of the canyon and the Salton Sea on our way back down.
Sure enough, the side road led down into the wash where we should have been.
Again, you could drive down into the wash, but that little section of road was even rougher than the main road.
Eventually, we came to another "Foot Traffic Only" sign.
Though there were tire tracks and footprints, it was clear that this canyon didn't get nearly as much traffic as the other two we had hiked. We made our way through until the wash forked. I was pretty sure the right fork was a dead end and it was. So, we stayed to the left and found the slot.
Almost immediately, we came to a spot that required a scramble, and I wasn't sure Linda could get up it. It was tall and tight. But she had come that far and wasn't about to give up just yet. I had to remove my backpack to climb up, and then we assessed the situation.
It wasn't that big a deal for someone a bit younger, more flexible, and more fearless, but it was a challenge for us. With some ingenuity and effort, she made it.
It was another fairly short slot section, ....
but it was different than the others. We were mostly walking on rock surface rather than sand, and it required me helping Linda up in more places. But at least we did it.
When the canyon opened up, we decided we had had enough, so we returned.
Back at our most difficult spot, Linda decided to video my descent and then she handed the camera to me as she came down. It's pretty funny, and you can see it at the end of this post.
By the time we walked out of the canyon and back to the Jeep, we were done. We walked about six and a half miles total for the day.
Another good day in the Borrego Springs area. We like the "feel" of this area for some reason. There's no traffic, it's laid back, there are lots of hiking and driving tour options. Mountains surround us, and although it's not the prettiest place in the world, there is a sense of peaceful, understated beauty. I'll take Borrego Springs over Palm Springs any day.
Here is the video I promised.