Big Bear, Anza Borrego, March 24-25, 2017

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Big Bear, Anza Borrego, March 24-25, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:30 pm

There has been a lot of publicity about desert wildflowers in SoCal with this year's rain, with this month being the peak in Anza Borrego State park in eastern San Diego County. That's a long haul for a daytrip but we made it a two day trip with an overnight near Palm Springs, only a bit over an hour's drive from there to Anza Borrego from the Salton Sea side.

Last week's storm just brushed SoCal Tuesday/Wednesday and once again was rain in the ski areas. Thursday rated to be firm so we skied Friday as the weather warmed. We arrived at Snow Summit about 8:40 to the closest-in parking I can recall there, though the upper lot was mostly full by midday. We got Liz' California lift pass for 2017-18 set up and got on the hill just after 9AM opening.

No surprise most of the first Summit Run was frozen granular but the base area was already beginning to soften. By the second run on Miracle Mile the more intermediate pitches in the sun were good even if the flatter sections up high remained firm. So we skied Miracle Mile again and the other top to bottom runs Log Chute and Westridge. Just after 10 we ventured into the now closed chair 10 area.
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These are normally Snow Summit's best fall line groomers but without fresh packing they had a bit of resistance in the warm weather. With the lift closed you need to skate through the base of the beginner area and take one of the beginner lifts up to reach the main base of chairs 1 and 2.

Snow Summit did not operate chair 6 even though Wall and Olympic were in excellent shape. Liz on Wall:
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Even a few of the variation like Dicky's were ungroomed but skiable.
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The runout trail and lower Miracle Mile were OK in the late morning but getting sticky after noon. I've since read that chair 6 is not running even on weekends, which seems a mistake. But there is plenty of evidence Big Bear's season is winding down. About 30% of Summit's terrain is closed even though some of it is still skiable. The shuttle bus between Bear and Summit is not running midweek. Chair 3 wasn't running either, and they were in process of dismantling some big jumps on Ego Trip that had been used for a recent event. At some point they will probably close Summit and just run Bear as the park rats are the core shoulder season clientele at Big Bear.

At any rate the chair 6 and 7 runs were in good shape midday so we skied about 6 of those before coming down to the base just before 1PM. When we found the shuttle wasn't running we drove over to Bear and got a close parking spot from someone who was leaving. We took to Access Express straight to Geronimo to stay on Bear's highest run. View down Geronimo from the top:
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The lower pitch on Geronimo is often firm manmade but in fine form at 2PM in late March.
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This is the latest in the season I have ever skied at Big Bear.

From Geronimo I could see Silver Mt. and noticed that the infrequently open Wedge (formerly known as Quicksilver) was covered, so went over to Silver via the Big Bear Express. View of San Gorgonio from top of Big Bear Express.
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I'm sure there has been much more snow and less rain there, 3,000 feet higher than Big Bear. Unfortunately that snow is only accessible on a multiday camping trip unless you're a real ironman.

Entry to Wedge was sketchy.
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Lower down Wedge is a double fall line somewhat like Goldridge at Baldy.
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Also like Goldridge, Wedge used to sport huge moguls. But these days Wedge likely gets little traffic from Bear's heavily boarder-centric clientele.

We were on the road by 3:30 and got to the Cabazon Outlet Mall shortly after 5PM via the back road Hwy 38 and Yucaipa. Cabazon has a Tesla Supercharger, and by the time we had done some browsing and shopping we had a full charge. We had dinner in Palm Springs, which unlike Big Bear is in the height of tourist season. As a kid, my school spring breaks were often spent in the desert, and it's overall the most pleasant time of year weather wise there.

We stayed out on I-10 towards Indio so we could get closer to Saturday's objective. Nonetheless we were tired after Friday's skiing and after breakfast got into Anza Borrego about 11:30. Here was an Ocotillo plant in bloom next to the road.
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On Saturday Anza-Borrego was hopping and the road to the Visitor's Center was blocked as its lot was full. We parked on a side road and walked across maybe half a mile of desert to it. A variety of plants are there. Barrel cactus:
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Beavertail:
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Hedgehog in foreground among others.
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Several varieties together:
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The Visitor Center is embedded partially underground in the second picture above.

We picked up some maps from a ranger and drove out Borrego Springs Rd. to see the metal sculptures of Ricardo Braceda. Scorpion:
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Giant Sloths:
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His most famous sculpture is the Serpent.
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Dancing with the velociraptor:
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Indian head:
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We drove out a dirt road in Cactus Canyon to this Ocotillo forest.
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One odd feature was these caterpillars all over the place, many crossing the roads.
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They bury their pupae in the sand. There must be an explosion of the sphinx moths next month.

Desert sunflowers near Henderson Canyon Road:
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We exited climbing the scenic Route 22 west over a pass at 4,300 feet. Flowers were in bloom among the rock formations in Hellhole Canyon.
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1,000 feet higher than the desert floor, the ocotillos here will bloom a little later.

Routes 22 and 29 in San Diego County needed to be driven at no more than 55mph to make sure we made it to the Supercharger in Temecula. We found an excellent Italian restaurant Trattoria Toscana for dinner and had an easy 1.5 hour drive home from there. Without that charger (opened May 2016) we would have had to retrace our route back through the Coachella Valley
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Big Bear, Anza Borrego, March 24-25, 2017

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:04 pm

Wow, great pix.
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Re: Big Bear, Anza Borrego, March 24-25, 2017

Postby jasoncapecod » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:56 am

Nice report, love those cactus
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Re: Big Bear, Anza Borrego, March 24-25, 2017

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:04 am

During my tour of duty in New Mexico in the early 90s, we had two big monsoon periods which resulted in a similar explosion of desert flowers: unforgettable. Amazing how they're just lurking in the background, waiting to be released by a big gusher of water.
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Re: Big Bear, Anza Borrego, March 24-25, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:50 pm

In New Mexico that's probably the opposite season in September I would guess.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9801
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California


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