Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Anza Borrego: Palm Canyon Trail and Narrows Earth Trail/Mine Wash


Last updated 4/19/2016 at 8:25am

Joyce Show

Dear Editors,

My husband, two youngest sons, and I just visited Anza Borrego over Holy Week. We were so inspired. My 16 year old son, Peter, wrote the attached poem after a day of hiking. He has severe autism, but communicates well by typing. I feel his poem expresses our experience well, and probably that of many of your visitors. I hope you consider publishing it.

Thanks for all you do to guide, support, and encourage visitors to your beautiful park.

Joyce Show, MD, Altadena


Anza Borrego: Palm Canyon Trail and Narrows Earth Trail/Mine Wash by Peter Show Tran

Palm Canyon Trail:


Rocks all around,

Knobby hills like piles of junk,

Giant boulders strewn across a flood wash,

Like bocce balls thrown by a child rock giant

Made out of the same hard stuff as these hills.

Smaller rocks the size of bowling balls accent the path.

I pass a curious boulder,

Pitch black, veined with silver, pockmarked with dents and holes

as if engraved by a runaway drill, or crazy hand.

Some of the boulders are varnished rust, purple, and black

By an anonymous multitude of tiny painters.

Mom said ancient bacteria did it, incorporating manganese, iron, and clay

to create their fancy paints

To wall themselves away from the sun,

Took 10,000 years.


I meandered up the mountain

With its dry, hard, sun-baked soil.

The land should be barren,

But it is not.

Around every bend is a surprise.

Duets of tiny yellow buttercup-like flowers, beside white tiny puffs,

Miniature bursts of yellow pompoms, amidst bushes of bright yellow sunflowers.

Tiny purple clusters low to the ground.

Bushes of budding desert lavender,

When Mom crushed a tiny bloom between her fingertips,

A sweet pungence ensued.


We had lunch in a hollow of boulders.

There was a shelf for mom's water bottle.

Luke flung himself against a rocky outcropping

In a boxing match.

Luke lost.


At last we trudged into the palm oasis.

What a difference that little crystal riverlet made!

Suddenly there were giant California fan palms 3 stories high.

Teddy looked like a dwarf against the tightly packed grove.

I finished the hike to the last marker.

Then, tired of foot, weary of the dryscape,

turned eagerly back.

But the most arduous part of our adventure lay ahead.


We turned off the main trail onto the "alternate" trail.

It was a bad alternative.

The path meandered over dry boulders, twists, and turns

Till the path completely disappeared.

Mom sectioned off our last bit of fluid, a lone orange.

With determination we hurried down the mountain,

Cognizant that we had to find our way through the maze of boulders before we dried up.


Dad found a way.

Joy to see the main trail!

We popped out of the merciless wilderness

Into the civilized world of smiling families

And ladies with their cellphone cameras.

I scrambled relieved back to the car,

And opened a cold Gatorade with a happy sigh.


Narrow Earth Trail and Mine Wash:


Stories written in the rocks.

A light granite block against an orange brown striped sedimentary rock

A clear faultline in between,

Evidence of a mighty push and shove

between tectonic giants.

Horizontal layers of sedimentary rock

Flipped on its side by a giant pancake turner.

Part of a slab of sedimentary rock

Hundreds of feet from its matching counterpart,

Sliced off by a torrential wash of flood waters,

Sweeping a huge expanse of alluvial plain before me.


Finally, a long drive back and forth on highway 78,

Looking for a tiny brown sign

that could only be read in the wrong direction.

"Mine Wash," it read.

Bumpity bump, we pitched and rolled over the sandy gravel.


We discovered a cluster of giant boulders that served as

Home for an ancient Indian village.

I sat on a boulder leaning against several others.

Looking down, I saw a moltero,

A depression in granite hard rock

Worn away over generations of patient Indian women,

pounding their grain in the same spot.

I looked to one side and saw a living room of boulders

Joyce Show and Family

shaded by a rocky overhanging boulder.

I realized I sat in the kitchen.

The wallpaper was bacteria varnish of purple and rust.

A row of flaming orange ocotillo

framed the view from my "kitchen window."


Desert life is harsh, but beautiful,

With surprising discoveries for

Those who have the eyes to see.

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