Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valley of the Moon

Patty is getting tired of looking at the 300th Post blog when she opens up Pat and Kathie, so here is my latest adventure to the Valley of the Moon this weekend. I try to go out with the Gourmet Hiking Club once a month because they go to such cool places and, not only that, when we get to our destination the group lays out a tablecloth and brings out delicious food prepared by every hiker. I can always count on Kathleen's gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on dark Cranberry bread.

The group was going to 4 wheel drive into the Valley, but Kathleen and I and Laurel, a novice to the group, decided to start out early and walk in to get the extra miles. The reader should understand the Valley is about 70 miles east of San Diego, right on the Mexico-US border, remote desert wilderness, and traveled by two legged "coyotes" and their Border Patrol pursuers. Kathleen and I had lined up a man to hike in with us, but at the last minute he couldn't make it so I packed my little Mace canister. A lot of good that would do.

We started out early at 7:30 AM, expecting to meet up with the Gourmet hikers when they arrived into the Valley, hike around a little bit, then have some yummy lunch. Simple. Just follow the vehicle route in to the point where vehicles could no longer handle the terrain, wait for the rest of the guys, and proceed on the Valley.

Needless to say, we took a wrong fork about 15 minutes into the hike. Seems this used to be an old mining area, lots of mines, and lots of forks off the main road. They all looked like main roads. What's worse, we didn't know we were "lost", so we just kept going - all up hill, ending up on a mountain ridge looking out over the desert and into Mexico. Stunning, but about 10:00 AM I was wondering when those 4 wheelers were going to catch up with us.

I was taking pictures of the beautiful scenery, Laurel and Kathleen are trying to figure out where we were, and - voila! - Laurel spots a group on the road below. Had to be our group. They were going to wrong direction for illegals.

By the time we had bushwacked, bouldered and high tailed it down to the road, the group was gone. We spent the next hour tracking - yep, just like Indians - the main group, wondering if we were getting more "lost" or would there be any food left when we found them. Or, in the back of my mind, could we find our way out of here if we didn't find them.

It wasn't lost on us that because we had counted on a straightforward hike in, meet up with experienced Valley of the Mooners and get guided in the rest of the way that we failed to bring a full size topographic map, left our emergency kit in the car, and had no cell phone service in this remote area.

Just before noon, we finally spotted our group across the Valley floor, a good three quarters mile away, perched high on a rock - eating our picnic without us! We did hook up for a splendid lunch on what was left and, bellies full, we could appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of this special place on the hike out.

Rock formations that one could only wonder "why doesn't that fall off?"

"How did that happen?"

"Looks like a shoe up there".

"I think he's missing a couple fingers on that hand".

Easter Island, fallen over.

"I'm just as tired as you, buddy".

Pac Man

Palisades that would make an Incan proud.

Finally, a cold beer at the end of the hike. Like I said, it's a cool group.

All's well that ends well. But next time no leaving the emergency kit back in the car.


Pat said...

No map and no emergency kit? Are you nuts, Woman? Next time take a 4-wheeler. You're lucky the real coyotes didn't get you.

The pics are a lot of fun, though - as are their captions!

Katharine said...

Yes, I was beating myself up over it most of the hike.