In an effort to speed things along here and get back on track, I'm going to fast track to Day 2 and The Slot in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Our evening in Sheep Camp was spent socializing, so in my role as a mentor I didn't get an opportunity to sneak away to shoot. Sunrise and sunset isn't the best at Sheep Camp anyway because it is surrounded by mountains; it loses the light too early in the afternoon, and it doesn't get sun in the morning until after the magic hour.
The big surprise of the night was having Mel and Lisa Wade of Offroad Evolution show up in the middle of the night with the kids in tow. Mel has been doing some absolutely incredible must-have stuff for the JK's and I know he had been very busy getting ready for SEMA, so it was really great that they found the time to come hang out with us for the weekend. I'll bet the South Coyote Canyon trail was a lot more fun to do in the dark!
The next morning most of the remaining group head back home early, but a few of us stuck around to run another trail and do a little hiking before getting back on the road. WayOfLife chose The Slot because it's a scenic trail with a narrow slot canyon to explore and we always appreciate the opportunity to get out and stretch our legs.
The Slot is on the other side of Borrego Springs on the east side of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and it winds its way through a tilted Borrego Formation Sandstone. The trail is easy and incredibly scenic as it overlooks the badlands. The only challenging spot is a descent down a very steep and loose sand hill that is really much easier than it looks. Bill still had the wheel so I jumped out to grab some shots of the jeeps, and I must say that the jeeps had an easier time getting down that hill than I did on foot!
We let this guy pass through so he didn't have to wait for the line of jeeps:
We decided to stop when the slot narrowed. Although it is possible to drive further in (if you don't mind risking a little body damage), with eight jeeps we needed to leave ourselves sufficient turn-around room.
The Slot is thought to have started as a crack or joint during the deformation of the badlands, the slot forming as runoff funneled into the crack, deepening it more than widening it. It gets incredibly narrow in some spots and you have to literally squeeze your way through.
The sun was shining on the upper walls of The Slot, but down below it was cool and shaded, a nice relief from the warm 95 degree desert day. Yeah, I forgot to mention on Day 1 that the temperature was a bit higher than expected. Not bad, unless you're working hard to set up camp in the middle of the day!
Owls and ravens love to build their nests up on the ledges and the floor of The Slot is littered with feathers and other evidence.
I would not want to be standing under here during an earthquake. Something to always keep in mind when hiking out here. This area was hit with a 4.2 magnitude quake on April 30, 2008, strong enough to jostle a few rocks loose.
After hiking through The Slot, we managed to get the jeeps turned around (my 2DR had a much easier time than the 4DRs did!) and start heading back toward pavement.
WayOfLife, Mel Wade, and Trailbud at the front of the line. Those bags on the back of our jeeps are burlap trash sacks WayOfLife made up for us. We use them to haul our trash out of camp, as well as cleanups along the trail anywhere we see trash. Unfortunately mine has been used so much that this was its last trip; it started shredding and ended up in the dumpster with the rest of the trash. I'm going to have to get WayOfLife to divulge his source because I don't know what I'm going to do without it.
It really is quite beautiful back here:
Back on pavement we aired up and head into town for a relaxing lunch out of the heat. That's when I found out that my control arm bushings were shot, which explained why my jeep had been handling the way it was on the road. Now my rear axle was rolling every time I stepped on the gas or the brake. Trailbud knew exactly what the problem was when I said it was clunking when I stepped on the gas, so at least it was easy to identify. FT sent me upgraded replacements and we finally got them put in last weekend.
So it was another successful trip with no carnage, lots of fun and great camaraderie. It was fun to meet so many new people and introduce them to what we like do (although there were a few I never did get to meet before they left that afternoon), and I hope many of them decide to join us for other trips. I bought the jeep for my photography, but I've made so many good friends because of it that I don't even mind putting my photography in the back seat once in a while.
Kudos again to WayOfLife and the rest of the mentor team for pulling off a successful event with such an amazingly large group of jeeps. Maybe we need to stop having so much fun to keep the numbers down!
Nothing more after the jump