Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ghost Mountain, Coyotes and Bighorn Sheep

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Had a beautiful sunrise this morning.  At breakfast we decided we would take a quick trip to Ghost Mountain today.  Around 11:00, we headed out and on the way through town, decided to put $20 of gas in the jeep, just in case.  Had a half tank, but didn’t want to run short.  Boy, am I glad I did!

For some reason, I could not find Ghost Mountain.  We started out fine, heading out of Borrego Springs around 11:30 on S3 going south through Yaqui Pass toward hwy 78. Beautiful PassYaqui PassYaqui Pass Stopped in the pass to take a few pictures and an older couple stopped to see what we were taking pictures of.  They said they have gone up and down this pass each day for 10 days looking for Bighorn sheep, but had not seen any.  We started looking too, as we went through the pass.No Bighorn Sheep

Got through the pass and I made my first mistake.  I turned left on 78 instead of right.  Went a good 10 miles down the road heading east until I realized we were heading toward Ocotillo Wells and not toward Julian. 

Turned around and went the other way until we were about 10 miles from Julian and realized we had gone too far west.  Turned around and went all the way back to S3 and knew we had missed the turn-off to S2 again.  By this time we, were getting to around 1:00 and still didn’t know where Ghost Mountain was. 

Finally, after turning back one more time, I turned left on S2 but it said Shelter Valley and I was looking for Blair Valley.  Kept going down the road and stopped at the fire station in the small town of Shelter Valley and asked the fireman on duty.  Shelter Valley Fire Dept. He was a young man, and he did not know where Ghost Mountain was.  He asked the other young fireman, if he knew, and luckily this kid linked Ghost Mountain to the Marshal South homestead. 

Would you believe the fire station was at mile marker 21 and he said the turn-off to the homestead was at marker 24.  Glad no one three miles down the road needed their assistance.  By now, time is getting critical.  I make one more mistake.  Looking at our little map, I thought if I continued down S2 a little further I would have to walk less, so we turned on a sandy road about a mile further down.  Walked around the mountain looking for a worn path and after a half hour of wandering through the cactus, I decided to go back to the other sandy road.  Saw this motorhome.  Boy is he prepared for boondocking!Prepared! Pulled in and quickly saw signs directing us toward the Marshal South homestead.  Finally!  Now time is of the essence!  It is 2:30 and we have two and a half hours to get there, get pictures and get back out before dark.  As we were heading down the sandy road, Sandy road there in the meadow on the west side of the road, we saw a coyote loping along.  Stopped for pictures, and headed on.Coyote!I hear a Fergie barking!

Got to the parking area finally, and another one of those 1 mi. signs pointing straight up the mountain.  Fergie isn't a dog! Too late to turn back now!  Dolly, Fergie and I head up the path.  Not a soul around at this time of day, so we had the whole place to ourselves.  (Didn’t see the no dog sign.)

I don’t know about Al, of the Bayfield Bunch, but this was a tough one mile climb.  We walked up through switchbacks all the way to the top.  Unfortunately, we could not stay and enjoy the solitude.  Took pictures and started back downhill.  By this time it was after 4:00 and the sun was just over the western mountains.Heading up!Way up!Top looking down in the valley!Marshal South HomesteadMarshal South Homestead
Cistern, I think!Homestead
Cistern, maybe or water tank
Water holding tankSun Dial, I think.
Water tank                                                 Sun Dial, I think.
Not much left.
Old spring bed
Not much left of the place.                            Old spring bed.
Spring bedSomebody has a great boondocking spot.
Spring bed                                                   Somebody has a great boondocking spot.
Getting late!
Getting late!
On the way out, would you believe we saw the same coyote in the meadow.  He wanted to cross the road and Fergie was barking his head off, scaring the poor guy.  Took pictures again, and as we went on, I saw him happily crossing the road behind us.
Eyeing Fergie!
Eyeing Fergie! 
Back and forth he goes!Back and forth! 
Back and forth trying to get by us to cross the road!

It is 5:00 and dusk as we head back through Yaqui Pass toward home, I tell Dolly to watch out for Bighorn Sheep.  Now would be the time as it is getting dark.  I am whizzing along when Dolly yells “Sheep!”  There is no place to turn off, so I stop in the middle of the road and get out with my trusty Sony camera and just as I was going to take a beautiful shot, he turned and ran.  All I got was his butt.

Then Dolly yells “Sheep” again, but this time they were on the downhill side.  There was one that had crossed the road and was waiting on the uphill side for the others when we saw him.  I quickly, go around the jeep and start shooting at anything that moved!Bighorn Sheep

Dolly was afraid they were going to attack, because they got frightened with Dolly yelling, Fergie barking and just then a highway patrol car pulls up behind us and stops, scaring the sheep that was trying to go by me up the hill.  He jumps and turns around and I see the cop but keep on shooting.Police carscared him!

Finally, they are gone And they are gone! and I sheepishly get back in the jeep and head out expecting to see his lights once i got through the pass.  He followed us for eight miles till we got to Borrego Springs and he just turned off.  Whew!  I was sure I was going to get a ticket for stopping in the middle of a winding mountain road, but I think he was impressed with the sheep too.

Got home after dark and saw something had torn the bag of garbage I had left beside the motorhome and strewn all the garbage everywhere.  Garbage That will be a tomorrow job.

Looking back, I guess we were lucky to have been so lost and dumb.  We ended up being at the right place at the right time to see a coyote and four Bighorn sheep.

Enough for one day.  See you later.


  1. Well that was quite an eventful day. As I recall I think we had a difficult time locating Ghost Mountain the first time as well. Yes it's a strenuous hike alright & one which I've made 7 or 8 times now. Too bad you didn't have more time at the top. Would have been nice at that time of day with all the lengthening shadows spilling into the surrounding canyons. When you missed the Blair Valley turn off & went another mile you were very close to Box Canyon where ruts can still be seen beside a dry waterfall made my settlers wagons years ago. And further on down that highway into the Vallecito Valley is the old Butterfield stage coach stop. Also an old Indian Village site just about a mile or so from the Ghost Mountain site. Your getting to see lots of new stuff. The big stone eagle near Warner Springs is neat. You can combine that stop with Julian as well. It's nice when you get up top the San Yacinto mountains there, Lots of trees. Be sure to get up a down Montezuma's Grade. Take a parachute. If you take the route from Warner Springs to Julian be sure to come back down the mountain through Banner Springs heading in the direction fo the Yacqui Pass again. Maybe you will more Sheep:))

    1. There is so much to see and do here. Hike yesterday wore us out. Will have to rest some today. Thanks for the leads on what to see. We got to Box Canyon but turned around at the sign. We will be going back that way several more times. May not make it to Yuma this year. May just stay here thru February.

  2. Whew ... what an adventure!

    glad you finally found it but got off the backroads before dark.

    AND no ticket!!! Lucky guy!
    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

    1. I was getting very frustrated with my stupidity. I am supposed to be going on a nice, easy drive. Not a stress filled one. But it all worked out in the end. And I know exactly how to get to Ghost Mountain now!