Today I completed the first reconnoissance mission down to Salton Sea. My last trip was in about 1987 and if it weren’t for a few documentaries and watching Huell Howser on TV make a visit in 2011, I would not even be sure if it was there.
My plan was to drive the shoreline to look for water sources (or stores to buy water), check cellphone signals, look for anything impassable on foot, such as large creeks or rivers flowing. Basically I wanted to start getting reacquainted with The Sea.
I started at the North Shore at the end of State Park Road. Summer hasn’t really started yet so the smell was not bad. I walked around getting used to the humidity before heading south to Corvina Beach.
Corvina Beach is where I spent the majority of my time at Salton Sea. Between 1979 and about 1987, I had camped there around 100 times. Stepping out of the car onto the beach was like old times. It was a windy day. A very windy day. So windy that I could hardly hold my camera and keep it steady. My eyes, ears, and nose were constantly being sand-blasted by hot sand.
Corvina Beach looked much the same as I remembered it with one major exception. In the 1980’s the beach extended at least 1/2 mile in both directions from the entrance. Today, the beach extends about the same distance to the north, but to the south what was once the dirt road and camping area crumbles onto the beach after only a few yards. The 5-6 foot high “cliff” still exists between the road and the shore making for a treacherous climb or slide to get down to the water. My mother once slipped trying to get down to the shore, permanently damaging her knee. After that camping-trip we always used our Army surplus foldup trench tool to dig steps into the cliff to make it easier to get up and down. Back then the water was only a few feet from the “cliff”, 20 or 30 feet at most. Today, the water was about 75 yards away from the cliff. It looks like the water level has decreased significantly in the last 20 or 25 years. I took a few pictures and headed south.
The Salt Creek was one of my concerns for walking around the shore of the Salton Sea. In the 1970’s there were stories of duck hunters getting trapped and dying in the ‘quick sand’ that surrounds the area and as I kid I had gotten stuck in the mud when walking in the area. This spot would not be passable on foot without walking up to Highway 111 and crossing on the bridge. My concerns quickly faded as there was not a drop of moisture in the creek. During the summer months walking through the Salt Creek area should not be a problem.
My next stop was Bombay Beach. The once bustling resort-town is now a sad, dilapidated shell of misery. A sad sight, but no visible issues on the shoreline.
As I headed down the road to Niland, the winds picked up considerably. I turned off Highway 111 and headed east to check out Salvation Mountain but turned back almost as soon as I got out of the car due to the wind and sandstorms. My plan was go south through Calipatria, then back north through Salton City toward North Shore and back home. But because I had wasted so much time already and due to the high winds I aborted and headed back north on Highway 111, and started back home.
From Mecca all the way along Highway 111 south to Niland, my phone held a solid 3-4 bars on AT&T. Good news!
Next week we will make another scouting trip and maybe to a 5 mile or 10 mile hike along the shore to get an idea of the issues we’ll face walking the beach.