Monday, March 24, 2014

Walking the Slot

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

I walk far behind her on the narrow ledge of a Badlands trail.  We are on a quest.  A magical mystery tour to find an hallucinogenic beauty within these barren canyon walls.  We are on top of the world.  Then below.  In the hot sun.  Then the cold shadows.  We must hold our breath to squeeze through the gaps.  The Slot is a maze built by Mother Nature for the delight of her children.  On this Monday morning, my sister-in-law and I have this Wonder to ourselves.  We are in awe of its beauty, but also of the energy surrounding it.  We feel young. Once again.

Finding this place is not easy, even though it is one of the most popular hiking trails in the park.  A ranger at the Visitor's Center gave us very precise directions and he was right on.  From Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, California, drive southwest on Borrego Springs Road and then turn left on Route 78.  "Go exactly 1.5 miles and turn left on a dirt road called Butte's Pass.  Park at the end of that road.  The Slot's just below."

I felt elated that we were the only ones out here.  Yesterday the trails were packed.  Today, they are empty. The weekend warriors are gone.  Now working behind desks in San Diego offices or maneuvering the freeways of L.A. that criss-cross each other like the warp and weft of a concrete carpet.  It seems like a miracle such a place, unspoiled by pollution and noise, exists only a few hour's drive away.
The light filters through the cracks above us, creating an alien world of orange and lemon light.  As we reach the end of the narrow wash and are hit with the hot white sun, we finally meet another pair of hikers.  We nod, say a few words, and hike on.  Our quest is not yet done.  We follow a jeep trail and then head back up the canyon to our car.  I finally say what I have been thinking all morning, "There is no place else I'd rather be."

My sister-in-law agrees.

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