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Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Pumpkin Patch, 5 Palms, and More

This was our last day in Anza Borrego State Park, so we undertook three small adventures that have been on our list.


We took our coffee for a longer walk early this morning, up to the overlook above our campground at Borrego Palm Canyon.  Before long, we were at the top, looking out over the valley:

The view down to our campground was pretty awesome:

This was what we saw the other direction, up Palm Canyon, beyond the primitive campsites:

We had heard about Pumpkin Patch, so we did some research and found sketchy directions out across the desert from Highway S-22.  Our off-road adventure started at Arroyo Salado.  We dressed Dusty up in an off-road whip so that other off-roaders could see us above the desert scrub.


Driving out Arroyo Salado, we headed for our first destination:  5 Palms, a small group of palm trees that just exist by themselves out in the middle of nowhere.  We headed out Arroyo Salado --

-- and David climbed out at a critical point to build a cairn to mark the turn we made into the bigger wash:

We could not find reliable directions.  The roads and junctions are not always well signed.  And, most importantly, there are lots of junctions where you must simply use your instinct as to the proper choice.  As Yogi Berra was quoted to say:  "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."  We did.

Somehow we made it to 5 Palms without backtracking.  Kathy celebrated with the four remaining palm trees.  One poor palm was lying nearby on a sand dune, probably done in by climate change (you can see the base of its poor trunk just in the foreground).

We couldn't stop to mourn because we still had further to go.


Our ultimate destination was Pumpkin Patch.  We had the GPS coordinates and just followed our hunches along washes and over ridges toward our destination.  Ultimately, we found it!

The Pumpkin Patch is a unique geologic feature consisting of thousands of rocks called "concretions."  Not all concretions are formed the same way.  The concretions at Pumpkin Patch were formed much like a pearl is formed in an oyster.  Sand that is wet can stick to any small object such as a pebble, an insect body or a piece of shell.  When the sand dries, it hardens in place, like concrete.  More surrounding wet sand sticks to it after a rain, and then dries.  Over time, this concretion hardens into rock because of pressure from rock and sand above it.

The Anza Borrego pumpkins are round because they were eventually exposed and then sculpted by desert winds that smooth and round them.

Kathy found one "pumpkin" that had split open, showing the layers of concretions that formed it:

We strolled around and through the Pumpkin Patch and then, having satisfied our curiosity, climbed back into the Jeep and made our way back through the washes and over the ridges, following the GPS track we had made on our way in.

Some of the tracks were serpenstine slides through deep sand:

As we neared our entry point from the highway, the terrain opened up and we had beautiful views of the mountains around the area of Borrego Springs.

By 2:00 pm, we arrived home, just in time to do a number of chores to get ready for our move from here back to Phoenix -- where we will store the motorhome and Jeep in preparation for our flight home to Philly and then on to Myanmar for Christmas and New Year.

You might not hear from us again until 2019, so this is to wish everyone an early "Happy New Year"!  Keep on following the uncharted tracks and looking for those diamonds in the rough.

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