In The Desert
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Vallecito, California 2
Anza Borrego State Park
Author - Dave Taylor
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Desert Wanderer -- Amateur Historian
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We had lunch at the picnic grounds just outside the entrance, which could stand some ramadas. The temperatures that day and night were mild. Considering its late May, that's just amazing. Nearby Canebrake reports 6.41 inches of rain for the year. The average rainfall in nearby Ocotillo is 4.6 inches a year.
Okay, is this not an old bus bench from the 1950's, '60's? This one is at S-2 at the turn-off to the Agua Caliente Park, but on the outskirts of the camp grounds you start running across these things. Not at any particularly appropriate places, just neatly set up by the road. I'd love to know the story, is all.
Agua Caliente Air Strip. How many County Parks do you know of with its own air strip? The strip is north-east of the park, on the north side of S-2.
We returned to Vallecito and checked out the cemetery that was perhaps fifty yards east of our campsite. There's but three graves in the cemetery. The left monument is James Mason, the first man to actually own the land we call the Station, the right grave is John Hart, one of the last to live in the station. The middle, unmarked grave is said to be the final resting place of Eilene O'Conner, the Lady in White.
From campsite 7, across the cienaga looking south, south-west. Clouds boil over the Lagunas. Across the cienaga is a valley that Hugh Rankin in his March 1944 Desert Magazine article called Treasure Valley, based around the legend of the White Horse, although his version isn't the one I tell, he spent a week or so tearing up the hill with a bunch of buddies looking for the lost gold.
The Vallecitos Stagecoach Station with some clouds in the background. The wind was strong and the temperature was plummeting. It was actually cold in Vallecito. We loaded up and headed out.
On the way, we came up on what I think is Vallecito Hill. Although not called that on any map, in the many articles I've read on the area, they always talk about this daunting hill to the west that the stage coach drivers, and teams, feared. In any case, one article mentions a homestead that was up the side of Vallecito Hill, and the grave of James Mason's wife being there. There used to be a county road maintenance dump just alongside S-2 there, with asphalt, sand and such, and its always been fenced off, so we've never been able to really get into that area without bushwhacking.
If you saw the Teddy Bear Cholla forest right in there, you'd agree, it was a deal killer. For some reason, its been opened up, all the road material removed. You look at the topo map for the area, and, by golly, there's a road, and then a trail that grinds up into a pass you can't see from the highway, working up the source for Vallecito Creek.
The old roads have all been closed off by the ABDSP, so the twins and me decided to hike back up in there, .88 of a mile, it looked pretty easy. Stick to the road, the climb is gradual, what could go wrong?
How about a minefield of cholla balls. The road was littered with them, and they were all different colors, dark brown, iridescent green Nick stepped on four, Kellian stepped on one and not only did I step on one, but another one ambushed me, jumped me from behind. Now, if they're on the sole of your shoe, you can pull them off, but you can't leave them there or the quills will work their way through. You get stabbed and the shoes are ruined. Luckily I had my Leatherman, but it was getting old, and we hadn't covered a quarter mile, stopping to pull the balls off before they could do any damage. This shot above is coming back, with our goal in the background.
Last time I got one of these it took a year for them to heal.
This is an inter-active Wikimapia Satellite Map. You can zoom in / out and drag the map to scroll. Mouse over the map for more info.
The Agua Caliente hot springs and airport are located on the map above, as well as the Vallecitos Stage Station. Mouse of the little squares. Zoom out ot see more of the Anza Borrego State Park.
Editor's note: Dave's stories are always intriguing because of the historical background he supplies the reader with. He also shows us the hazards you might encounter along the way. Thanks Dave.....