March 20, 2019

Photo Essay: Yellow Poppies Take Over the Cactus Loop Trail in Anza-Borrego

Every wildflower bloom may be super, but some are better than others.

And every year's bloom is a moving target—where it was busting out all over the prior year or the year before that may be barren this year (and vice versa).

When I went to check out the "superbloom" in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park this year, my first thought was that it didn't seem as good as two years ago.

And then on a lark, I ended up on the Cactus Loop Trail across from the Tamarisk Grove Campground on the Yaqui Pass—an area I don't think I've ever visited before—and found myself drowning in Parish's poppies (Eschscholzia parishii).

And here we thought we were just going on this hike for the cacti.

The photos don't do the landscape justice. I know everybody says that, but it really was breathtaking.

Maybe it was just the surprise of it.

But watching those yellow poppies flutter in the afternoon desert breeze was just mesmerizing.

We were also treated to purple mat (Nama demissum) amidst the succulents.

The Cactus Loop Trail afforded one of those rare opportunities to be surrounded by wildflowers without having to trample them...

...since the interpretive trail follows a ravine that's lined with them on both sides.

We timed our visit just right—completely by chance, of course—to get the doubly whammy of wildflowers and cactus flowers.

The beavertail and cholla had just begun to sprout buds...

...but the California barrel cactus, with their elongated bodies reaching skyward...

...had already started the show, with yellow blossoms covering their crowns.

Eventually, the wildflower display subsided, as the trail looped around the rocky hillside and began to descend along a deep, floodwater-carved trench.

We were the only hikers we'd seen to go that far. Others had bailed when the trail got really steep and either double-backed the way they came or took a shortcut down the sandy wash.

Thankfully, I'm a completionist—otherwise I wouldn't have come across the fishhook cacti, a new one for me (I think).

But towards the end of the loop, there they were—growing between rocks, reddened with desert varnish, hiding in the shade of larger cacti, starting to bloom like all the others.

I decided to stop hiking for the day at that point. I wanted to end on a high note.

Stay tuned for superbloom dispatches from the rest of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. 

No wildflowers were harmed for this post. 

Related Posts:
The Worst of the Superbloom, At Walker Canyon

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