What started out as a trip to see Desert Wildflowers quickly turned into one of those trips that looked like it might not happen.
First there was the over anxious border patrol agent that hassled me at the Mortero Wash checkpoint. I am not sure why he singled me out? Perhaps it was the combination of the sunglasses, beard and the Lazy Lizard baseball cap that aroused his suspicions?
Next as I pulled off at Indian Gorge, Daren was heading out in his big Dodge diesel looking a little stressed. OK sure I was an hour late (sorry Daren) but this looked like something else. He explained that while on a short morning hike, he got stung by an irritated bee which caused an allergic reaction. Immediately he found himself covered with hives and began to have trouble breathing. Geesh what was next, a flash flood, I thought to myself ?!
Fortunately as the sun moved higher into the late morning desert sky, the memory of the disgruntled Border Patrol agent faded away and Daren started feeling better. We decided to follow our original plan of hiking over the ridge in Indian Valley to check out some pictographs that Daren and his friend Scott had found on a previous trip.
To put things in perspective, a hike with Daren is not a leisurely stroll up a well marked trail with trekking poles. On the contrary, you find yourself scaling ridges, climbing boulders, squeezing through stands of cholla all the while trying not to step on anything that will hurt you.
This particular hike took us through some of the more remote areas of the Anza Borrego desert. While the wildflowers had been decent in Indian Valley, once we dropped into the Inner Pasture / Canebrake area they were spectacular! Huge stretches of Desert Dandelion covered the desert floor accentuated by Desert Pincushion and small daisies. The silence of this isolated valley was incredible, the only interruption being a large border patrol helicopter that would intermittently pass overhead.
Finally after about a hundred flower pictures, we arrived at the pictograph site and had lunch. While not as colorful as some of the other sites, the pictographs were interesting. The sun pictograph looked remarkably similar to the pictos in the Solstice Cave, while the others were a bit hard to make out.
It was starting to get late so we began the long hike back to the trucks. Daren offered me a cold beer which helped ease the pain of the numerous scratches and cuts and then it was back to the coast.