Hell Hole: One Step at a Time

I’m way behind! I love writing this blog. And I also love actually doing the stuff that I’m writing about. I’ve been so busy with the doing that I haven’t had time for the writing. That’s all. Thanks to some bad weather I’m actually able to do some writing. It’s raining and it’s windy. I realize that those of you who are living in areas where snow and icy conditions prevail may find this silly. I agree. I think it is really quite nice here. And the desert is turning very green. We are stocking in anticipation of being sequestered when the valley is invaded by thousands of visitors to see the Super Bloom that may arrive in a month or so.

Anyway, I want to tell you about a hike that we did back in early January. It was a coolish day in the desert-a great time for a hike. Hiking on days that are cool means you don’t have to worry quite so much about this problem:

The State Parks idea of a humorous way to encourage people to carry adequate water. The sign says, “They didn’t bring enough water”.

We decided to hike up Hell Hole Canyon with a group of friends. The hike starts about a mile from our trailer door on the desert bajada just west of the Park visitor center and the more popular Palm Canyon hike. Over the first one to two miles there are lots of Ocotillo and creosote, the typical flora for this area. It’s a gentle, well marked uphill trail and quite easy.

The usual suspects: Tom, Bill, Stephanie, Marilyn, Jonathan, me, and Layne with one beautiful blooming Ocotillo.

As the canyon walls close in, the terrain changes and the nice easy trail disappears, replaced by boulders. There are three oases and at the third there’s a waterfall with ferns-so says the guidebook and people who’ve been there. I’ve hiked here before but never made it past the first oasis.

I think this is the approach to the first oasis. There are parts where there really isn’t a trail to follow.
Fortunately, Jonathan was able to move a couple of rocks off the trail for me.

We all really wanted to make it to the third oasis because of the waterfall/ ferns. As it got harder and harder I was able to keep walking with that simple little method of focusing on each step individually. I think it’s a great metaphor for life. There’s always challenges and we just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Every time I thought about stopping I just focused on that particular step. Quite meditative, it was. “One step at a time. There’s nothing else, just this moment, this step.”

In some sections there actually is a trail to follow. This is still in the lower part of the canyon.

Layne, Stephanie, and I all had our moments when we thought that we might just call it a good day. Tom and Jonathan did a lot of scouting for best routes. There was one particular spot where we stopped to rest on a big boulder in the sun and I seriously wondered why I needed to go anywhere else.

Lunch at a sunny spot. Pretty nice, right?

But there’s so much to see along the trail.

Interesting rock formations.
Morteros: Kumeyaay Native American nomadic peoples used the rock to process pinyon nuts, mesquite beans, and desert agave.

Birds: on this hike we saw an Oriole and we always hope to see Phainopepla. (Didn’t see one this day.)

Keep your eyes open for Borrego. That’s the Peninsular Bighorn Sheep. (Didn’t see one of these either.)

It’s very surprising to see Sycamore and Willows growing alongside the Palm trees.
Near the second Oasis
Nice view from just above the second oasis looking back down the canyon and into the Borrego Valley.

We never really had any kind of time limit other than knowing that in January it gets pretty dark and cold in these canyons by about 4:30 in the afternoon. That allowed us to just keep pulling up over the rocks, stretching to climb, crossing little rivulets of water. And finally we arrived at the third oasis and sure enough, there was a small waterfall with ferns growing all around it.

Oh so worth it!

The wind is gusting up to about 40 mph and it’s raining intermittently so more inside activities. I’m sending this out and then I’ll start on the next post. Coming up next: Mexico.

10 thoughts on “Hell Hole: One Step at a Time

    1. nancykeeley7030 Post author

      Yes it did! That’s weird. There are lots of them. I wonder where they went. When I log in I see them. The link must be funky. Boo! Too tired now to fix it. Thanks for letting me know.


  1. Mary Driscoll

    πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚….. love the warning to bring water…. and glad Jonathan moved the rocks for you πŸ™‚ 😁😁😁😁


  2. dickndi

    Photos came through just fine. Missed you at Soup Nite, but can easily see why you’re there!
    Snow in the air & on the ground in Ashland; 30F at 10AM…



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