Becoming Desert Dwellers
Becoming Desert Dwellers
Big and Dry
After so much planning, buying and other ‘getting ready’ type enterprises we were finally doing what we wanted to do. Heading out into the backcountry for some proper overlanding. Just Claire, Millie and I in a big ‘expo build’ truck with our house on the back. Fully loaded, self-sufficient and ready to explore. What could possibly go wrong?
We had heard about Anza Borrego State Park from Markus and Heidi, fellow XP Owners who we visited in Santa Ana a week or so prior. They have a cool, albeit hefty, Backcountry Adventure book, detailing an abundance of trails around the Southern California area. Claire had heard about Anza Boreggo before but we’d never been, so armed with our mammoth trail book and some scribbled GPS co-ordinates from Markus we ventured North East.
I’ll be honest with you. I wasn’t expecting much. The ‘good stuff’ is generally designated as National Park or similar. A State Park has effectively failed to provide enough wow factor to satisfy those that hand out National Park designations. Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Yellowstone. You’ve likely heard of those, as have a million others who’ll turn your adventure into less solitary experience than you’d have hoped for. Along with the ‘top-ranked’ designation comes the rules and regs. “.. Don’t leave the road, stay in one of these few booked out well in advance camps and see the things we tell you to see ..” Needless to say, National parks are epic. Totally, amazing, if a little sanitized.
How does a Boreggo Day Go
Anza Boreggo felt a little like the National Park’s naughty brother. It’s huge. It’s not as pretty. But what it lacks in aesthetics it claws back in simply being a great slice of American outdoors with enough guidelines that people generally behave but enough freedom that you get to let loose and pretty much do whatever you like.
A Night with the Stars
From our first night bustling off road up to a dead end in Coachwhip Canyon we were slowly falling in love with ‘Anza B’.
Huddling next to the canyon walls, we were protected from the wind, enjoying our first wild camp meal and staring at the stars. The morning’s breakfast was followed by an outdoor shower; a group of somewhat aging hikers timing their arrival at our camp perfectly as Claire was naked behind the camper.
The next few days were spent bouncing around off-road, beetling along trails and exploring the park. Even the highway driving between the trails was entertaining, full-time desert dwellers are a particularly strange breed and I can never work out if they are there by choice; because they don’t particularly love people
The Fish Creek trail being a stunning highlight, some nice canyon driving and an absolutely spectacular view from the top of the Wind Caves hike, the broad expanse of barren landscape stretching into the distance. How is this just two hours from Los Angeles?
A capable Beast
The truck performed particularly well off-road, which was encouraging. I was concerned that the sheer size of the camper would create issues. But the modifications we have done to Sherpa seems to have paid off. Let’s face it, Sherpa is never going to be a nimble beast and compared to other light and flexy vehicles like a Jeep, or Toyota Tacoma it’s always going to take second best. But what it loses in weight and agility it gains in having enough trail muscle to get a camper into places a camper usually doesn’t go, and once there you camp in comfort.
This is ideal for us. It’s exactly what we wanted. This is not a strictly off-road expedition and having a lightweight truck with something like a rooftop tent would have had us running for a hotel after a month or so.
Our last proper stop in Anaza Boreggo hammered that point home. Coyote Canyon’s recent drought conditions failed to supply us with our first water crossing but it did provide a two day stop where we simply pulled over to the side of the road and camped for a couple of days. Camp fires, epic views, sunshine and a hike, all finished with a warm night in a queen size bed.
During the planning of our trip, we have been fortunate to meet people who have shown a great deal of enthusiasm about the expedition and have supported us through products/services or gone out of their way to help in some way. They played a part in helping make This Big Road Trip a reality, are passionate about what they do and passionate about doing it well. If you're in the market for their product or services then we can highly recommend them.