Friday, February 3, 2012


Creosote Bush
Yesterday we set out on yet another adventure to try to follow the Battalion Trail from Ocotillo, California over the mountains on the last leg of their journey to the Warren Ranch. We drove East back over Laguna Pass which is a huge pass on I-8. It was very high and tons of nothing but boulders.


 We dropped back down into the desert and turned off in Ocatillo, a small desert town with "narry a yellow dog wagging it's tail." Glad I don't live there. We think it must be mainly border patrol people and their families. We saw lots of border patrol in trucks and in helicopters. I don't want to be an illegal alien walking in that area of the desert. I would most likely relish being picked up if I were out there in the summer.

We had our book of the journals of the Battalion with us so we read of that portion of the trip and were able to imagine what the area was like as they traveled. It was flat for a portion of the way and then began to climb into very high and rocky terrain.

We drove into the Anza Barreo State Park that has over 500 miles of roads and trails in the desert.

We stopped at a trail that lead to a grove of Palm Trees and natural springs and hiked up to it. Strange to see clear cool water flowing over the parched sands and rocks. We met a man who has been coming there for over 7 years. He tries to repair the damaged old Indian and pioneer trails. He said there are over 50 of these springs within 10 miles. I can imagine it was a welcome sight to those pioneers.


A clear spring of fresh water in the desert.

We then stopped on a high pass and were able to view just below us the original trails of the Butterfield Stage and the Mormon Battalion. They were just separated by a few feet. This area was called Box Canyon and they had to chisel their way through a narrow gorge. We hiked down into the gorge and walked the trails. We even found an old wooden marker with the skull of an ox carved into it marking the Battalion Trail. We never did see the chisel marks though. We weren't sure what we were looking for.


The Mormon Battlion Trail


We hiked down into Box Canyon on the Battalion Trail for quite a ways. It was an amazing feeling to walk where those brave and faithful people walked.

Drove to the next stop where we tried to find the remains of the last standing Butterfield Stage building. We couldn't find it but Mark saw a marker. We met a gentleman who was quite familiar with the area and he had never seen the site. So we will look another time. As we drove up the mountain we could look over the ridge and see what was the remains of the Butterfield Stage Road and possibly the Battalion Trail.

  Just before Warner Ranch we came to an area described in our book on one of the last legs of the Battalion.  They described  a lush area with an abundance of Cottonwood trees and fertile land.  It was surely just as they described it and must have been a welcome sight to those weary travelers.
Drove over the mountain on to a town called "Julien" It is an old gold mining town and they had old historic buildings but we didn't have time to stop. We went up the road a few miles and found The Warner Ranch. this is where the Battalion was met by a contingent sent from San Diego who informed them they were to march there instead of Los Angeles. It must have been a welcome site to see that fertile valley with large oak trees and civilization. All we saw was a rickety barn. After we left we realized we should have gone north 4 miles to see the old adobe home. What we saw was the the ranch. So we will go back. We continued driving and realized that we had made a huge loop and gone miles out of our way on highway 78/79 and were back to S2. So we ended up back in Julien. Stopped to eat at a nice steakhouse. Just as we ordered in came a group of about 25 girls and their coaches from a girl's soccer team. Of course they were typical girls and very loud and all speaking Spanish. We kept trying to pick up words here and there but they were all talking at once. Except when they ordered they used perfect English. GRRR!!!

Funny thing was that they all wanted to order a whole pie to take home. We found out that this little town is famous for it's pie. We didn't have any because we had just bought a whole pie at Marie Callendars which is down the street from where we are staying. Next time. We most definitely want to go back here and explore the town and have a piece of pie.

Made it home exhausted but had a wonderful adventurous day.  After that dry and arid drive it surely was a thrill to see this beautiful Bird of Paradise plant in our RV Park.

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