Rockhouse Canyon Trailhead to Cottonwood Springs
(12 miles, +3,700/-1,800 feet).
It was time for another winter trip with MixMaster, and the cold temperatures usually mean we stay close here in SoCal. This time we decided to head to Anza-Borrego and explore the region below Toro Peak.
We were originally going to head out yesterday, but the forecast called for 60 mile per hour winds! So we waited that out and left today for a simple overnight trip.
We drove my Prius across a dry lake and down a road better suited for high clearance vehicles to the Rockhouse Canyon trailhead. The first part of our trip took us up the well-traveled Butler Canyon.
After about a mile we stumbled on a Borrego skull, which I’ve never seen before.
There were a surprising number of wildflowers for this early in the season, owing to the early rains the desert got last fall.
After a couple hours we left Butler Canyon and crossed Jackass Flat towards Buck Ridge.
Soon it was time to climb the ridge, which would be easy without plant life, but….
We each pulled several “jumping” cholla off our shoes on the way up to a lovely lunch spot at about 3000 feet.
As we made our way over Buck Ridge, the plant life got denser with juniper and other large bushes.
We had originally planned to head up into Nicholias Canyon, but cross country in the desert takes time, and we decided not to push it. Instead, we descended to Alder Canyon and walked on its floor for a couple of miles. We alternated between flat sandy stretches surrounded by tall canyon walls and smooth granite dry falls that were fun to climb down.
About an hour before sunset we climbed up on the flats above the canyon and headed across to Cottonwood Springs. There was no water (we brought plenty) but the wildlife was lush and the birds were flitting about engaged in mutual singing.