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Sunday, 19 January 2014 00:00

1999 Trip Report - Anza Borrego Loop

Written by John Page
Ooops!  That didn't go as intended! Ooops! That didn't go as intended! Allan Wicker

Anza-Borrego Loop Trip, April 17 & 18, 1999

by John Page
Photos by Allan Wicker

The Christmas Circle gang pulled out a few minutes after 8 o’clock. They were Mike and Phyllis Aguilar, Lou and Sophie Vener, Allan Wicker, John and Nancy Hoopes, Reda Anderson, Matt and Raquel Westlake, Rob Tugend and John Schmidt, led by John Page and Paul Ferry and with Carol and George Gilster in the sweep position. At the Banner Store we picked up the San Diego gang, consisting of Reena Deutsch and Beverly Ingram, Ron and Linda Lewis, and John Bortz.

(click below to read more, and to see the photo gallery)

 The first leg of the trip went from the highway at Banner, up Chariot Canyon past the mine and up the lovely, cool, wooded canyon. The youngest ladies, Sophie and Raquel, looked for the bobcat we’d spotted during the pre-run in February. We stopped at the crest and tried to figure out exactly where the Fages parties and the Jackass Mail had made their way, so many years in the past. Then down the rocky Oriflamme Canyon road to the little stream by the CCC camp and numerous Indian morteros.

The first leg of the trip went from the highway at Banner, up Chariot Canyon past the mine and up the lovely, cool, wooded canyon. The youngest ladies, Sophie and Raquel, looked for the bobcat we’d spotted during the pre-run in February. We stopped at the crest and tried to figure out exactly where the Fages parties and the Jackass Mail had made their way, so many years in the past. Then down the rocky Oriflamme Canyon road to the little stream by the CCC camp and numerous Indian morteros. 

Then to a quick stop at Box Canyon where the Mormon Battalion and Butterfield Stage roads are still clearly visible.

A 25-mile run south on S-2 took us down the old Butterfield Mail and Southern Emigrant Trail route, past the reconstructed Vallecito Stage Station to the Carrizo Badlands Overlook where we aired down our tires for driving the sandy washes ahead. Then we left the highway to proceed north through the geologically awesome Canyon Sin Nombre, across

Carrizo Creek to Arroyo Tapiado, where we stopped for lunch and to explore the Big Mud Cave.

After lunch, we made our way to the Diablo Dropoff where we found some other groups of 4-wheelers, either on their way to Fish Creek, or just playing around; going up and down the two dropoffs. We all descended the upper sandy section without any trouble.

The lower section was short, steep notch which had a large "mogul" in the center just uphill of a depression to the left. John P asked Paul to watch from below as John took a line that straddled the depression by running his left tires along the slope on the left side of the notch and the right tires on the mogul.

The descent, in low-low gear, was comfortable and looked OK to Paul, so John advised the group to take the descent to the left, as he had done.                        

[Reda's brother, Dr. David Agresti, studied this photo, did his planetary scientist mumbo-jumbo and declared the angle of inclination to be about 52º. That's pretty steep!]

Unfortunately, Reda took the descent a little too far to the left; her left tires continued to ride the left bank as the right tires went into the depression and her Jeep slowly tipped over onto its right side while still in the notch. 

Reda (now known as Tipsy) was wearing her seat belt and was unharmed. In a few minutes, she had climbed out through the driver’s side window and we attached straps to the rear and through the side window.

Reda (now known as Tipsy) was wearing her seat belt and was unharmed. In a few minutes, she had climbed out through the driver’s side window and we attached straps to the rear and through the side window.

Members of a Jeep club from San Diego helped by using two vehicles as a) an "anchor" in the rear which prevented further downhill motion and b) an "uprighting" vehicle which pulled the side-strap.

When the Jeep was uprighted, a young man from the Jeep club climbed in, started Tipsy’s vehicle and drove it about 15 feet to the flat below the notch.

Damage to Tipsy’s Jeep appeared to be minimal, with no broken glass and only the right front and center body sections dented and scratched; the passenger’s door could still be opened.

Only some radiator coolant was spilled, as far as we could tell. Tipsy, plucky little trooper that she is, hopped right back into her Jeep and continued with the group to the conclusion of the trip. The rest of the group made it down through the notch or by an alternate, steeper and softer, but mogul-less route. Reena’s descent through the notch was pretty exciting, too.

Once we were in Fish Creek, all the guys took advantage of the opportunity to hug Tipsy. [Tipsy, later: "That part was really great! It was almost worth it."] She wanted to put her car in order so she and a couple of others stayed at the outlet to the Dropoff while the rest went up Fish Creek. John Bortz’ Jeep died when we stopped at the entrance to Sandstone Canyon. So we decided to spend the night there and Paul went back and retrieved Tipsy and those with her.

The evening was totally enjoyable. Happy hour with Reena’s margaritas, John P’s quesadillas, and snacks by others, was followed by a super dinner of several salads, barbecued ribs, crispy fried chicken, and spaghetti and macaroni dishes, among others. Desserts included Tipsy’s famous upside-down cake along with other low-calorie (ha!) delights. The night was quiet, cool, clear, and comfortable.

Rolling by 8:30 the next morning, the group was led by Ron and Linda Lewis towing John Bortz’ Jeep down Fish Creek, through Split Mountain, and on to Ocotillo Wells, where he called to arrange for a tow to civilization. The two open Jeeps, Westlake and Vener, with their young passengers, decided they’d had enough heat, dust, and fun for one weekend so they checked out, too.

The remaining vehicles went west to Buttes Pass Road and then to Cut-Across Trail; most took the scenic detour up Goat Trail and down Blowsand Canyon. We followed the Cut-Across Trail to Bank Wash to the Pumpkin Patch Trail which we followed to Pumpkin Patch where we had lunch. On the way to the Pumpkin Patch we saved a guy in a 2-wheel pickup who had done a "Martin".

After lunch, we drove up Tule and Basin Washes, back up the Cut-Across Trail to Una Palma, Five Palms and Seventeen Palms where we stretched our legs. Reena gave us the correct palm count and told us a little about these oases. Then on to the rocky Truckhaven Trail where we wound our way to the microwave tower and road to the Calcite Mine, at which point Rob and John, Allen, and the Hoopes checked out.

The final leg of the trip for the remaining die-hards was a fun run down Ella Wash to Short Wash to Font’s Point Wash to the spectacular view of the Borrego Valley from Font’s Point, where the trip came to its conclusion.

Don't forget to view the photo gallery!









Last modified on Monday, 24 March 2014 22:38
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