Although I am currently thousands of miles away in Thailand, I keep thinking of what an important transition it is in my life when summer turns to fall, and the desert, off limits due to the heat of summer for so many months, once again welcomes us to explore.
Though I frequently espouse the beauty and grandeur of the big-ticket destinations like J-Tree and Anza-Borrego, there are countless other unsung places that will welcome your thirst for adventure or solitude.
A more obscure region that will take a little more effort to access is Agua Caliente. Part of the San Diego County Parks system, it’s on the fringe of Anza-Borrego, out the Butterfield Stage Route along S2, and has hot springs to make the arduous journey worth your while. Stock up before the drive – it’s a desolate road. Spend the weekend, hike the trails, or tackle them on mountain bike, and be sure to soak in the pools. Discover the desolation and enjoy the millions of stars at night. Now you are initiated into desert life.
Oh, and they now have cabins if camping isn’t your thing.
I have long been a proponent of the urban adventure, taking that kind of exploratory wanderlust that we normally reserve for the wilderness and directing it to our built environments. You can choose your own route, you can ‘map your walk,’ or you can follow one of many marked, designated, and otherwise outlined paths through the concrete jungles of the world. You’ll find surprises along the way for sure, maybe even meet a fellow trekker or finally at last discover that a slow pace helps you to discover a sense of place.
My own ongoing urban adventure follows the California Coastal Trail from Mexico to Oregon, covering a lot of pavement along the way. I’m taking a break from it while I’m abroad, but look forward to resuming the walk when I return to the West Coast.
Read more about hiking urban environments in this Outside Magazine article.
I just discovered a new networking platform for people who explore the outdoors. Check out Mappy Hour, and if any of you students or instructors go to a meeting, please contact me to let me know how it goes: firstname.lastname@example.org.