Monday, September 2, 2013

Let Us Hike: Tijuana River Valley Regional Park

We grabbed our day packs, the two kids, the two dogs, and loaded up in the Jeep. We decided to try a trail we had never been on, or even been near in years. We had a rough idea of where we were going, and how to get there. On account of it being years, I quickly noticed things had changed from my recollections of the roads. Our choice was Border Field State Park. We had heard about it, and been on the border of it, but never actually went in the 8 years we have been in and out of Imperial Beach.

We headed down Saturn Blvd toward the farmlands, and came to a gate that was not there the last time we had been. I remember the road turning left where that gate was. We had no choice but to go right. Fallowing it down we took in the sights of horse corrals and lots of beautiful horses, and foals. Eventually coming to a little trail head, but it wasn't where we wanted to stop. We turned around and headed back down the road, and decided to take another approach off of Dairy Mart Rd heading south toward the border of Mexico. Again passing farms, and ranches. The road becomes Monument Rd, and at the end you will find Border Field State Park. As we come up to the entrance the gate is locked. We got an early start and were out of the house by 7:30am. The park does not open until 9:30am. Then we notice the sign that has a dog on it, and is crossed out with red. After reading the information board, Border Field State Park is home to many migratory birds to which the dogs affect, so to not disrupt the habitat we decide to move on. We had passed up a few trail heads on our way in, so we went back to investigate them. The parking wasn't exactly spacey to unload kids and dogs, so we ended up turning onto Hollister St. Where we came across the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park. There was no entrance fee, vast parking, picnic tables, horse trailer parking, holding corrals, and even a butterfly and bird garden (which I will have to take Danika on a different adventure). The dogs were allowed on leashes, but the kids did not need to be on a leash.

We finally found a staging area, and everyone filed out. Chris took the lead, and I took up the rear as headed down a trail, which was actually a road, the one road with the gate that I swore wasn't there before that turned left. I guess they can make many changes in 11 years. I hardly recognized the place. Back in 2002 we were on this Ghillie suit making kick. One time we came out to the woods to test it out. Well back then it was nothing but canary grass, and a few over sized shrubs on the side of a dirt road. I could tell you that story, but I will save it for a different time.

The trail was a mix of dirt and sand, and the trees provided ample shade. It was a hot day, and pretty humid in the morning still. There were a few little scenic points on the trail to pull off of and discover for a bit. Horse tracks and the occasional pile of horse manure. We really had to keep an eye on our fuzzy dog since he really seems to enjoy rolling in that stuff when we are at the farm visiting family. After going up a slight incline we came across a bigger peak that was a sandy hill, but the view on top was surprising.

I should have set my camera to take a panoramic view, but I forgot I could do that. The view at 360° was amazing. The city, Mexico, the water, and the mountains. Everything from one little peak. Just before this little peak we came to a point where several trails branched off. We back tracked to that point and decided to head toward the river basin. As the trees turned from the dry brittle ones to the vast greener ones it got a bit cooler, but still muggy since it is a river basin.

As I stopped to take this picture I realized I was standing in a plume of mosquitos. Being eaten alive I pronounced we keep moving since I had not packed repellent, and the kids and I were in sleeveless shirts. I guess I spaced the whole river valley thing, and mosquitos love rivers and humid weather. As we keep trekking, and slapping mosquitos the area around us started to look like a place you would find fairies. Both of the kids seemed to really enjoy the exploration of that after all we have been reading The Spiderwick Chronicles.
My one second photo opportunity was not worth the ten mosquito bites we each got while standing still. Chris had ran ahead to see if the trail would give us any relief, but shortly there after I got a text saying turn back or be eaten alive. (Chris managed to make it out of the basin with maybe three bites. The kids and I had at least thirty each scattered over our arms and legs.)
As we got back to the Jeep there where two old guys saddling up their horses, each drinking a Red Stripe beer. While loading up they had noticed our Seabee dozer sticker and struck up a conversation with us. We exchanged some small stories about the trails, and got a few tips from them as they came there often. 
As much as the mosquitos bugged us I would still want to go back, covered in repellent. There was so much more to explore, and the vast change in scenery was relaxing. Especially since it is less than a 5 minute drive from Imperial Beach. I had no idea there was this much nature literally in our backyard.

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