When we last left off I had just finished up a great day of exploring around San Diego with Bradley and Seth! The following day we set off to the desert to embark on a nice little camping trip under the stars. We rendezvoused at Bradleys house at around 9am and took off on our journey East. The drive on Highway 8 out of San Diego is absolutely beautiful and once you get over the mountains and into the actual desert area your in for a treat. The stretch from Jacumba to Ocotillo has to be one of the most visually compelling with thousands of old boulders littering the mountain sides. As we chugged along three trucks deep into the borderlands my excitement grew… I was anxious to embark on my first “real” camping trip of 2017! After getting off in Ocotillo we gassed up our trucks and then took off on Highway 22 north in the direction of Anza Borrego.
The canyon we wanted to camp at was rated for 4WD vehicles but we were feeling bold and weren’t willing to take no for an answer… after all the best spots usually require some risky business to explore! My truck is only a 2WD but I have a ton of weight in the back because of my bed, camper shell and thule rack so I was feeling confident I would have traction in the sand. After mounting all the trucks up with GoPro’s we began the descent into the canyon with Seth in the lead, myself in second and Bradley in the back. Not more than five minutes in, we encounter the first and probably gnarliest section of the whole drive. After some serious considerations in regards to line choice Seth hopped in his Taco and sent it through with no issue… I was next up and made it over the first set of rocks with ease then I got my left rear wheel pinched between two rocks, I began to panic and gassed it for fear of getting completely wedged in. Tammy handled it with no problem and we bounced over the rock, the only downside was hearing something on the bottom of my truck smash against a boulder eeeeeeek!!!! The rest of the drive through the canyon was no problem and the views were absolutely amazing! We opted to go on a Tuesday which was nice because we only saw one other vehicle on our whole trip. This was definitely what I needed to counter balance the glamping at San Clemente state beach haha!
After driving for a mile we came to an entrance of what appeared to be some narrows in the cliff side. I was eager to hop out and begin exploring but we opted to push through the canyon and get a lay of the land before committing to an adventure. The canyon continued for another mile or so and then it opened up into a great expanse of desert landscape… yet again something truly out of a Western movie! At this point we noticed some signs warning about how washed out and loose the sand gets so we figured it was a good time to make our way back into the canyon to find our camp zone. We ended up parking right by the entrance to the narrows against a towering wall of sandstone pillars which I knew would make the perfect background for some long exposures later in the evening. After finishing up getting our camp zone dialed we decided to explore the narrows while we still had daylight.
I was surprised by how cool the narrows were…! Maybe its because you always see photos of the famous Antelope Canyon narrows and these reminded me of them but I think it was more so the fact that I had never really heard of this spot or seen photos. Once again it goes back to finding places for yourself. Numerous people have been to this location before me but its still remained relatively unknown which is a rare thing these days especially with Instagram and social media. Just one more reason to appreciate getting out into the unknown! Seth and Bradley brought along a driver and some golf balls so we could hit some scenic spots for some scenic shots haha!
After we finished our hike through the narrows we went back to make a fire and get dinner going. When the sun finally went down I crawled into the surrounding hills to snap some long exposures of the area. I was blown away by how quiet it was in the desert… I could hear every word that Bradley and Seth were saying from my vantage point. The combination of that and the night sky made the whole experience perfect. I snapped a bunch of photos from the top of the hill and then went back to get the guys and head into the narrows for some light painting and long exposures!
After shooting a bunch of great stuff it was time to call it a night so we all climbed into our respective trucks and crashed. The following morning I was in for quite the surprise when my truck would barely drive when accelerated. I didn’t know what the hell was going on until we all realized that my transmission fluid had leaked out of my truck the night before…. So here we are out in the middle of the desert with no service, my truck won’t move more then a few feet and we have no transmission oil. We decided to take Seth’s truck into the nearest town which was about 15 miles away once out of the canyon. I bought about seven bottles of transmission oil and we made our way back into the desert. The only thing going through my head was that if this didn’t work out id be totally f$cked. Well we filled the transmission oil up and luckily my truck shifted into gear and we were on our way back out of the canyon for the second time that day. By the time I reached the service station the fluid was dripping out of my transmission pan like crazy so I dialed up AAA (thanks Sarah for the membership!) and got towed back to San Diego. Its been an interesting week to say the least and I’m just trying to figure out what to do with my truck. The transmission knocks when I shift from park into drive now and I feel like its only a matter of time before the transmission goes…. Unsure if I should drop the money for peace of mind and take the hit or just ride it out and hope to god I don’t get stuck in the desert when I’m by myself in the future…. Open to suggestions! I think I’m realizing that I should have bought a Toyota haha!