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Hiking, Outdoors

Hellhole Canyon – Apr 9, 2011

Hellhole Canyon

Hellhole Canyon

Lisa and I took a quick day trip from San Diego to Anza Borrego for a hike.  Weren’t really sure of trail for a destination, but wanted to get out of town.  We drove through Rancho Sante Fe & Escondido to Julian, where we stopped to pick up lunch.  It was snowing by the time we came out of the country store.  Only 40 degrees, so nothing sticking, but beautiful none-the-less.  The way from Julian to Anza took us down 78E, a twisty road with an excellent record for inducing carsickness.  Nuff said.

Anza Borrego State Park & Hellhole Canyon

I was thinking of taking Lisa up the Palm Canyon hike, which is short, beautiful and a nice introduction to the area, but the visitors’ area was so crowded it was obvious the trail would be a zoo.  One of the rangers / volunteers recommended Hellhole as a less crowded and longer hike, so we drove down to the trailhead and headed out.  Temperature about 60-66.  Beautiful day.

The hike tools up a sandy wash for a mile or so until the mouth of the canyon begins to narrow, and about another mile up the flank of the dry creekbed until you start scrambling over rockier parts of the trail.  Soon you’re bouldering up relatively small falls of granite veined with quartz and other minerals.  In about an hour-and-a-half, we arrived at the first waterfall and palm oasis, which looks remarkably like the oasis in Palm Canyon.  Lisa later asked where the water from the stream went (as it clearly didn’t end up in the dry creekbed below), but I’m not sure if it simply dries up or takes a more protected route underground.

Following the ranger’s suggestion, we continued up past the first falls along the left side of the stream to a second waterfall, and then further up a third where we rested and had lunch.  From just above where we ate by the stream, you can see a large stone pillar with a broad secondary stone cap on the left side of the canyon.  Would make for nice climb someday.

After that, back down the trail, and back to San Diego through Julian.

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