Marshal South Homestead

Borrego Springs, CA

Last night we had one of those rare occurrences for a desert environment – rain.  But this morning dawned with clear skies.  We met Howard and Linda of RV-Dreams, at the nearby Anza-Borrego State Park Headquarters and headed about 15 miles to the south to do some hiking.

Our first hike was a short one to the top of Ghost Mountain to visit the remains of the home of Marshal South and his family.  A one mile long steep trail from the southern edge of Blair Valley leads up to the site on a flat just below the top of the mountain. The skeletal remains of the house, known as Yaquitepec, still stand — a rusted bed frame, the base of a large adobe oven, the frame for an arched doorway, and the many cement and barrel cisterns that once caught the seasonal rainfall, the only water available other than what was hauled up the trail.  Here is where poet, author and artist Marshal South and his family lived from 1930 to 1947, pursuing a primitive and natural lifestyle that became well known through South’s monthly columns written for Desert Magazine.

Blair Valley from the top of Ghost Mountain (the jeep is sitting in the clearing in the center)

Remains of one of the rooms with a metal bed frame still in place

A cistern to catch rain water

We think this is a sun dial clock

The hike back down Ghost Mountain

Returning to the Jeep, we drove a short distance to a trail head leading up a canyon to a collection of morteros.  For almost a thousand years Native Americans visited this area on a seasonal basis.  From September to May they used the canyon as a base from which to gather pinon nuts, mesquite beans, and desert agave.  Nuts and seeds were pounded into meal in morteros, the large depressions we saw in the granite boulders.

One of the many boulders with morteros

After another short drive we hiked up another canyon to visit the site of some pictographs.

A young local guide explains the pictographs

While many experts could not decipher the pictures, the young guide had cracked the code.

“Be kind to your husband!”

We continued hiking for a half mile to a dry waterfall.  Standing on the edge, you get an outstanding view of the valley below.

We hiked back out of the canyon and drove back to the visitor’s center parking lot, where Howard and Linda had parked their Jeep.  Our hike had raised some questions about what we had seen, so we went inside seeking some answers.  The volunteers inside were very helpful, and even gave us a special showing of a video on Marshal South and Ghost Mountain.

Tomorrow promises another adventure, so stay tuned . . .

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4 Responses to Marshal South Homestead

  1. Deb Dominick says:

    The reason the guide could interpret the pictographs was because he had spent years deciphering 9th grade handwriting!

    The desert scenes are unbelievable! You should put together a coffee table book of your adventures.

  2. Marsha says:

    That is a beautiful setting but not sure I would have survived. If the only person I had to talk to was my husband….I’ll let you image what I am going to say next.

    The trail looks awesome. I love the setting with those huge boulders.

    I think that young guide must of been drinking before he took y’all out in the desert, or it is the heat from the sun that fried his brain. I took Advanced Pictographs Deciphering, and that particular pictograph says…Love your wife no matter what she wears. They were very fashionable back then.

    Pretty cool that you went into the museum and got your questions answered right away. That might be a better way of doing it rather than visiting the Center first and then exploring.

  3. frankeeg says:

    G’day, I found your site via Howard and Linda’s blog. After reading your latest entry I have bookmarked the site and over the next few weeks will go back to the beginning and read your adventures from the start. My wife and I are also retired, travelling Oz (Australia) in our motorhome and writing our weekly blog about our adventures. Please have a look at our site and read about travels from a different perspective. Looking forward to reading your archives. Cheers…FrankieG…

  4. Erin says:

    Have yet to spend any meaningful time in a desert environment; we so love being near water that it might be a challenge … although I’ve seen some gorgeous images of the area in the spring time.

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