As news of my grand adventure plans trickled down the grapevine and through the airwaves my bucket-list began growing by the tenfold. I started recruiting for a trip out to Anza Borrego to explore the Arroyo Tapido Mud Caves. The hands on the clock were moving quite quickly and if we wanted to get to the desert before the mercury busted through the thermometer this adventure had to take place yesterday. That being said without presenting much information I wrangled two of my friends into taking a day trip out.
The weekend was coming and I knew very little about what I was getting us into. I googled it of course, there were mixed reviews. It was potentially dangerous, hot and hard to locate. So what if we needed 4-wheel drive? Bianca has a Jeep that should do. I just knew that the less I disclosed the better so the day before I suggested that we should bring some lunch, a lot of water and maybe headlamps but flashlights should do and we would be meeting early in the am.
I nearly beat the sun up on Saturday and bounced my way to Bianca’s where we piled in the car and headed out. Directions were not that clear but the road dissipated into pressed sand that began calling our name so our tires gripped the earth for dear life. Bianca’s Jeep propelled itself through the rocky terrain clinking down the road forcing the steering wheel into an impossible dance skidding across sand until we were surrounded by an extraterrestrial land.
The unmarked trails left our first steps up to our imaginations. I end guided us through a perpetual slot canyon. Walls made of mud rose above our heads, the slightest touch of the substance would result in it coming undone. Ten minutes in our footprints were still lonely it seemed we took a trip down a road less traveled by, instead of seeing if it made all the difference we turned our backs and called this one quits.
Just on the other side of our car, tucked behind some brush was the entrance to the longest cave within the park. We rushed in with our flashlights out and our smiles wide as the coolness from the earth wrapped itself around us. The darkness was inescapable but the walls came alive with dripping with our artificial light. Layers of earth weeping mud tears on top of each other for eons created these marvelous caverns that winded through the desert. We twisted, tripped and turned through endless hallways finding ourselves the perfect picnic spot before the three of us ventured on.
After a brief break at the car we acquired some help from some campers and quickly found ourselves racing underground again. We were warned it was easy to get lost in this cave, so we were weary of making too many rash decisions. Finding ourselves scaling mud-formed hoodoos and crawling through the earth to find the light on the other side we found ourselves alone surrounded by a landscape that looked out of this galaxy. The heat started creeping into our bones as our feet dragged back to the car, time got away from us slipping through our earth dusted hands. Swapping the desert sand for the salty shores of San Diego.