Sandstone Canyon Camping

Summer camping in a remote canyon

Trip Report 20150703

Back to Bill Caid's Home Page

The Experience

Our neighbors Brian and Kait wanted to go camping and see Thor in action.  Since sooner is always better than later, we made a plan to go over our the first common available time which just happened to be Fourth of July.  Now, our planned destination is within the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park at an altitude of about 200 feet above sea level.  So, there was no question it was going to be hot.  The only open question was HOW hot.

The photos below are what we saw.

Thor was due for some maintenance actions and checking the house batteries was on the list.  Thor uses 4 GC-2 golf cart batteries.  These batteries were recently replaced but the new style "speed caps" appear to allow acid leakage.  Note the corrosion on the battery retainer straps.

We did our normal driveway packing job.  Note the ramps under the front tires to keep the rig level to allow normal operation of the refrigerator.

In the Lakeside area, we pulled behind a large truck carrying crane counterweights.  What is wrong with this picture?  The weights are 10 tons each and are restrained with only 2 medium sized ratchet straps.  Given the weight of the load and the strength of the straps it seems like a mis-match and dangerous for any vehicle following.

SR-78 through the desert is a rather lonely road.  We encountered virtually no oncoming traffic.

We transitioned from asphalt to dirt trail and headed into the Fish Creek Mountains.  The trail is a wash and the wash has cut a deep canyon through the mountains.  Note the undercut areas due to water flow.  There was some evidence of recent water flows on the canyon floor.

We planned our arrival time to be sundown so the heat would not be so bad.  We were punctual per the plan so the waning light impacted the colors of the landscape.

We approached the narrows in the canyon.

The narrows had steep cliffs that showed strong evidence of faulting, folding and uplifting.

In the narrows we stopped for adult refreshments.

Note the folding on the far canyon wall.

This set of folds shows the eye of a tight anticline.

The squeeze in the narrows.

Just past the squeeze we spotted some desert sheep on the far side of the canyon.  In all the years that I have come to Borrego, I have only seen one other sheep.

The canyon walls transitioned from sandstone to conglomerate with huge boulders as inclusions.

Further upstream, the conglomerate transitioned to mudstone.  This is a water erosion cave with rainwater coming in from the top of the mesa.

We continued up the main wash and then turned west into Sandstone Canyon and camped under high sandstone walls.

Brian and Kait erect their shelter for the evening.

After dark, I set up my Olympus EM-1 camera for a composite exposure.  I light-painted the cliff with my flashlight which was superimposed within the camera on the star trails.  This is about 30 minutes of exposure before moonrise.

I pointed the camera down the canyon to a wall that was being illuminated by the rising moon.  This was a 10 minute exposure.

None of us slept that well due to the heat.  Next morning we headed back toward the coast through Julian and away from the high temperatures.  Since it was the Fourth of July we encountered a parade in Julian.

We got to pass the parade in a separate lane and encountered the old stage vehicle.

This fellow was driving his vintage International Farmall in the parade.  We headed south from Julian to Jamul to attend a Fourth celebration at Kait's parent's home.

Lots of folks attended and they were enjoying the conversation.

Their house has a beautiful pool and patio.

The patio had a great view of the Tecate Mountains.

Even the closest houses were quite far away.

The patio also had nice views of the nearby hills.

We had fun camping, but it was hot, hot, hot.  On previous trips to this area at the same time of year, I don't recall encountering this level of heat.  None of us slept that well due to the heat and we were all happy that we camped on the shade side of the cliff allowing us to enjoy the coolness of the morning.

I had never seen desert Bighorn sheep in Fish Creek Canyon.  I assume they were hunting for water and likely found it.  They did not seem all that scared of us, but that said, they bolted back into the canyon well before we got close to them.

Back to Bill Caid's Home Page

Copyright Bill Caid 2015.  All rights reserved.