Day 2: Elephant Trees!

San Felipe Creek to Alma Canyon (17 miles, +900/-0 feet).

There was a surprising amount of condensation last night. So much so, that we needed to dry everything out at lunch today.

Otherwise the day started out great, with some colorful views of San Felipe Creek in the early morning light. It’s the only perennial stream out here, and at one point we could even hear a waterfall in it.

The virtue of an early start
San Felipe Creek

It’s great having Quercus along since he is a naturalist. He taught me that the dunes we passed were created by mesquite trees that gather the sand over time and spread upward as the dune grows. We also discussed the origin of the Salton Sea and speculated about the origin of all the shells we encountered.

Mesquite dunes
Clam shell
Snail shells

The big rains we’ve had this winter have made the ground quite springy. It’s a little tiring to walk on, so we followed Jeep tracks when we could.

Gettin in a groove

Soon we entered our maps of Anza Borrego at an old dry well that is still marked on the USGS maps.

County Well (Dry)

And we encountered our first ATVs and other remnants of rural culture.

Machine gun (!) shells

As we approached the Elephant Tree trailhead, we started to encounter cacti. We also found our water cache (whew!) before starting our climb up Alma Wash.


At the end of the Elephant Tree Trail we saw the flora for which it was named. But even better, we saw some way up in Alma Wash, far off the beaten path.

Elephant Tree on the nature trail
Elephant trunk
Elephant leaves
Alma Wash
(Wild) Elephant Tree

The sun goes down early in Winter, and even earlier when you are heading west towards a ridge. So we called it quits around 4pm near the entrance to Alma Canyon.

Looking back towards the Salton Sea
Home Sweet Home
Quercus flashes the coolest sign

One Comment Add yours

  1. Shanti says:

    Love reading your adventures James. Happy New Year. Love, Shanti

    Liked by 1 person

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