Friday, January 22, 2016

San Diego, CA - Boxed Up

While we were on our way to Julian we met a guy at an overlook who told us about a neat way to get back to San Diego from Julian and decided to take it. Well, it would have been a great drive IF we had started it early in the day. But, we toured the Julian cemetery after breakfast, took a 3-hr hike and then stopped in town for our second piece of pie. Thus, by the time we started the drive, it was 3:30. But we had it in our minds that this was the route we wanted and we took it. We should have thought a bit, we should have looked at the map - San Diego is southwest of Julian and for a bit of this route we would be going southeast. Well, we just took the route. Silly us.

The guy was right, it was a wonderful route back. The drive starts down (plunging) the Banner Grade. (BTW, anytime you see the word 'grade' you can take it for granted that it will be steep and curvy.) Cool road winding through the hills down to the desert below. Right by some old mines - those are for another time. Then the drive through the southern California desert with ranches off in the distance, lots of scrub brush and several turns into trailheads.  And, then we came upon a pullout with one of those historical markers and stopped to read it. Well, we found a cool trail, some beautiful rocks in the afternoon sun and some local history.

This was on one of the great overland routes from Arizona to San Diego. We visited the San Pasqual battlefield site a few days ago and - sure enough, Kearny and Kit Carson passed through here on their way to the battle site. The route was really through the wash of the canyon but it ran into a 20’ tall dry falls (the Box) so they had to cut through the rocks on the side to get through.. This work-around is now the hiking trail through the canyon and the way for tourists and hikers to get into the canyon to see the original trail. Here’s a plaque that was at the canyon telling about all the different groups who came through here to get to California beginning in 1825.
We walked down to the canyon on the hiking trail and then into the ‘Box’ part, the dry falls. In this picture the wash is the in the middle going through the canyon to the dry falls which I’m standing on in the next picture. The work-around trail is above it ending in the upper left of the picture. All those holes in the rock wall are just very shallow caves - probably for animals to hide in.
Here I am at the top of the dry falls (the Box.) No wonder they needed a work-around to get wagons, armies, horses, mules and supplies through.
Here’s Gary actually looking into one of the larger caves. Don’t go too far, Big Gar. We have no clue what lives in there.
Look at the beautiful colors of the rocks of the canyon.


But, just look at the rocks that line the canyon. What forces of nature made these swirls and folds and layers?

On the other side of the road were two concrete structures that we had to examine. Yep, bathrooms - with fresh rolls of toilet paper without roofs Ooh, think about that Google satellite flying overhead.
Obviously it’s getting late and we still have 98 miles to go. We headed on through this huge windmill farm. Didn’t know they had blinking lights - we seldom drive through a wind farm this late at night.
And, it’s dark and we’re going through one of our favorite drives, the drive through the canyons and mountains between El Centro and San Diego, CA. Here’s my last picture of the day. Looking at the ‘Purple Mountains Majesty’.
An interesting drive through the desert. We started it late but enjoyed it all, especially Box Canyon.

Our 2-day Julian adventure was absolutely wonderful. Yesterday's hike around the meadow into the snow, todays hike up Volcan Mt, the hotel, the local cemetery with so many stories, the drive through the southern desert and ending up with the serendipitous discovery of Box Canyon.

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