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December 14, 2015

Blair Valley - Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Our campsite viewed from the Butterfield Stage route
Blair Valley is always a great place to view meteor showers as it is well protected from light pollution.  A telescope is not necessary for the meteor shower, but was hoping for an early morning glimpse of Comet Catalina. Geminids did not disappoint, easily a dozen per hour - a very spectacular showing.  However, those same canyon walls that protect the valley did not allow enough time before the glow from the distance dawn illuminated the early morning sky and the comet could not be found in the dawn glow.

There are a few short, but interesting hiking destinations.

Butterfield Stage Route

Butterfield Stage marker
The campsite was near to the California Riding and Hiking Trail, which follows parts of the Butterfield Stage Route and the old county road.  A short hike to the summit provides views of both Blair Valley and Little Blair Valley.

Stage route

County road, most county roads are in better condition now.

Hike to South Mountain

Trail Head Information
Perhaps the best know hike strikes at the wanderlust in all of us, the steep one mile assent to Yaquitepec, Yaqui for 'House of the Sun'.  Not up for the hike?, or want background information, a good read is Diana Lindsay's Marshal South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles: An Experiment in Primitive Living.  

Me as the Elf with his staff

Looking back over the dry lake bed of Blair Valley

Looking east toward the Salton Sea

The homestead

Walls made of adobe and stone

Cisterns for water storage
Solar powered clock

The central clock tower was solar powered

All good homesteads need a garbage dump ....

The Morteros Trail of Little Blair Valley

Morteros Trail Head
Mortero is Spanish for mortar, in native Kumeyaay called ehmuu meaning 'bedrock hole', think the Kumeyaay have it right.

The cholla thrive here, apparently the Kumeyaay found there was no use for them

By the stunted growth of the Yucca there must have been lots of use for them.


The mortero is a grinding hole in the rock basically a stone food processor.  The small depressions called cupules, are also found on vertical surfaces, hence the experts think they have religious significance.  Ah heck, I think the young just need a place to practice make grinding holes, but they were not yet good enough to grind in the 'kitchen'.


Don't turn back yet!, another quarter mile is an interesting pictograph.

The Pictograph Trail

Pictograph Trail Head

This is my favorite -
IMHO the 'Y' is the Agave and it shows how to use a solar still for tequila 

Although this is a good place to turn back, continue on towards Smugglers Canyon.  The trail narrows as cliff walls develop on either side.  Eventually arriving at a dry waterfall overlooking the canyon.

Continue on the same trail...

The trail narrows...

View from the top of the dry falls

South end of the park next ...

1 comment:

  1. Yes, you made it! Isn't visiting the South homestead so cool! I was so disappointed to see that in just two weeks someone has bent the center rod on the sundial( I went back to double check our photo and it isn't bent). Too people can't respect history. I do hope you saw the video of Ghost Mountain in the Visitor Center. It is so neat to see the South family living up there and to hear the whole story and what became of the family. Hiking out to Smuggler's Canyon and that very cool dry fall is neat. We did that a few years ago. Can't wait to see what else you discovered:)


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