Though I haven't found this year's wildflower displays particularly compelling, this apparently is THE weekend for wildflower viewing in Anza-Borrego. It's true that many plants are flowering now, and it makes any hike more enjoyable to come upon a garden of delicate blooms tucked away in a rocky nook, or a golden patch of poppies brightening a hillside. The ocotillo are displaying their fiery tips, and the beavertail cactus, fat with buds, are beginning to open their showy blossoms.
We were up and out rather early (for us) this morning, to hike Alcoholic Pass. It's close to where we are parked, not too long, strenuous enough for a workout but not exhaustion, and we could be finished before the hottest temperatures of the day arrived - all the ingredients of an enjoyable hike.
(Top row: heading up the rocky trail, ocotillo blooming alongside the trail. Bottom row: Odel signs the log on top of Alcoholic Pass, trail's end).
If you walk half a mile up a trail, you can leave behind at least 80% of the visitors to a park. If you walk a mile, you will leave behind 95% or more. On our hike (1.7 miles one way), we saw 3 other hikers (or was it five?). Flowers, birds, rocks, vistas... and hardly any people.
When we got back to the road, we saw many, many, many cars - and the farther we traveled back towards town, the more we encountered - until it was practically a traffic jam on a sandy desert road! The most amazing sight, though, was on our way home, along a paved road that has seen very little traffic during the week: cars parked on both sides of the road, with flower peepers tromping off into the desert to view (and photograph) the little yellow wildflowers carpeting the arid soil.
Some people were sitting down to be photographed; many were snapping shots with pocket-sized digital cameras (like I use); many more had almost arms-length lenses set on tripods. Wildflowers are a BIG DEAL here this weekend!
After a winter spent in the southwest, I'm ready for a change of landscape. Tomorrow we're heading north, to a green and shaded county park with full hookups and spacious sites. Luna is the only one of us who will miss the dust!