Day 2 | December 17, 2018
We continued to walk through the wash, enjoying easy, flat miles and settling into the joy of being out on an adventure!
We stopped midday to eat a healthy lunch.
Parallel to the route towered Villager Peak and Rabbit Peak, an intriguing yet rugged group of Santa Rosa Mountains. We joked about adding on extra miles to bag one of the peaks but convinced ourselves that we only had enough water to stay on track and get to the next town.
When we reached a parking area close to Highway 22, we met Stitch. Stitch just finished hiking Sea to Sea and came back to the Anza Borrego Desert to explore more. He shared information about his journey, the trail conditions ahead, and offered us his extra gallon of water.
Cosmo and I gratefully took the water and after Stitch drove away, we glanced at one another with a look that said, ‘you know what this means...’.
We crossed the highway and took a slight detour off our route up a mysterious, unmarked trail towards Rosa Peak.
It got dark quickly as we climbed from sea level up to 3,000 ft. Guided by the light of the moon, we carefully skirted around needle-sharp cacti and intimidating yucca. I was excited by our sponteniety and the unplanned bonus miles of this added adventure.
Partly up the climb I heard Cosmo shout, “OUCH!”.
I was struck by his shriek. Cosmo, usually calm and composed, has never really yelled in pain. “What happened?!” I yelled back in a concerned tone.
”OUCH!”, he replied.
I hurried up to find him and looked down to see a sharp cactus with needle-like thorns stuck in the skin of his calf.
I handed Cosmo my bandana and scrunched my face as he wrapped it around the cactus. I think we both expected blood to pour out of the sharp needle holes as soon as he pulled it.
With his teeth clenched Cosmo used my bandana to pull out the cactus and we proceeded with caution as we made our way up.
The climb was steep and each step in the darkness had me second guessing our decision to summit.
We made it up to the saddle of Pyramid Peak where we saw the lights of Salton City and the moonlit shores of Salton Sea. With the wind blowing sharply in our faces, Cosmo and I decided this would be a satisfying point to turn around.
We camped high in the Santa Rosa Mountains looking down at our route that would soon cross the Anza Borrego Badlands.
Day 3 | December 18, 2018
It took us a few hours to make our way down. We maneuvered around slick rock pools full with rain water and scrambled down rocky ledges with steep drop offs.
By mid afternoon we were back on trail, walking through the flat, soft sand of Anza Borrego.
After an easy off-route climb we made it to Inspiration Point, a surprising and unexpected overlook over the Anza Borrego Badlands.
At sunset we hiked down a winding dirt road towards Highway 22.
The route followed the main road for several miles. We could see the lights of Borrego Springs a few miles up the road but decided to spend the night just outside of town.
We set up camp in the sand and fell asleep to the sounds of dogs barking and coyote packs howling from all sides of the Borrego Valley.
Day 4 | December 18, 2018
In the morning the tent was damp from condensation, but it didn’t take long for the strong desert sun to shine bright and dry up the moisture.
We hiked for two and a half miles along Highway 22 to get to the town of Borrego Springs.
We ate breakfast at the Red Ocotillo, and took a relaxing nap in Christmas Circle.
We continued our walk through town stopping at the Fudge Factory for a delicious date smoothie and The Center Market to do our resupply.
By early evening our bellies and backpacks were full and we started the climb out of town and up to Hellhole Canyon.
The sun was gone for our early evening hike, but the nearly full moon lit the path for us.
After seven miles we set up camp on a flat overlook and gazed east toward the small towns in the distance.