Fonts Point - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

February 20, 2021

Fonts Point

We have Bill Stone to thank for today’s hike to Fonts Point.  We hadn’t heard of it before, but reading up on it now we see it has a reputation as one of the premier viewpoints in the valley.  Starting about twelve miles east of town on the road to the Salton Sea, the route to the point follows a four mile ‘road’ up a sandy wash to an allegedly drop-dead view (particularly if you’re not careful with your footing) down into the Borrego Badlands.

After reading Bill’s description of his hike-a-bike through deep sand that took him two hours to cover the four miles to the summit, we decide it’s more suited to a just-a-hike; or more likely a 4WD drive if we had one of those things.

“What friggin’ road? This is nothing but a river of sand, and there's no way I can mount up and ride.”
Heart 1 Comment 0

No, that doesn’t look like our type of ride at all.  I have bad knees, a temperamental back, and a recovering toe.  Carrying my Bike Friday uphill through four miles of sand sounds like the wrong training program for this old body.

It’s a full sun day again today, so we wait around for the afternoon before starting out on our little adventure.  I’d like to be out as late in the daylight as possible to get the best light for photography, so we guesstimate how long it will take us for an eight mile sandy slog and arrive at the trailhead at about 2.  

I’m apprehensive when we start out, with two concerns.  First, three vehicles pull off and start driving up the road, kicking up clouds of sand as they go.  It’s Saturday, and probably peak time for folks driving up for their look at the view; so we wonder if we’ll be walking through a cloud of dust and watching out for cars racing up the wash all afternoon long.  And second, I’m anxious about the Raven.  We’ve parked him a short ways off the road about a hundred yards up the wash, and I’m already starting to distrust the soft surface.  I’m hoping we won’t have trouble driving back out at the end of the day.

We suppress our anxieties and start walking.  The road itself is a very poor surface, covered with deeply rutted sand that’s been churned up by the 4WD traffic; but we follow a hard packed surface off to the side that parallels the road.   it’s quite nice, and there is much less traffic than we feared at first.

This part of the walk is quite pleasant. We’re well separated from the few cars that drive by, the surface is firm, there are no rattlesnakes about.
Heart 2 Comment 0

As we work our way up the wash, the scenery gradually becomes more dramatic.  The land is chopped up by eroded channels, and it’s a challenge trying to find our way and avoid the soft-sanded road as much as possible.  We’re alternately walking the road, shifting from one side to the other to find the firmest footing we can; or working our way off to the side, trying not to get ourselves blocked by a ravine too deep and steep-sided to cross.

It’s slow going, but at least not so slow as Bill’s experience - we easily best his time to the summit, making it there in only about ninety minutes.  

The landscape grows more dramatic as we go. I wonder how it will look at the end of the day when the light is lower.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Where we can, we avoid the road and walk cross country, watching out for ravines and critters.
Heart 1 Comment 0
For about half of the way our best choice is the road, walking along whichever margin has the firmest footing.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Not for the last time today, Rocky stops to pour the sand out of her shoes.
Heart 1 Comment 0

We arrive at Fonts Point at about three-thirty, climb up to the rim, and look down.  Wow!  It really is a stunning spot, with the hacked up, eroded badlands a few hundred feet below, straight down a precipitous slope.   It’s not an edge you want to get too close to, especially up here today when the winds are gusting up to thirty mph or so.

We’re not alone, of course.  There are about a dozen cars at the parking space at the end of the road, and people are scrambling along the long rim, taking a cautious look over, staging photos, moving on to another spot; as are we.  We wonder how often accidents occur out here, and worry especially about the children hovering closer to the edge than I’d want my child to be. 

The view southeast from Fonts Point.
Heart 2 Comment 0
The southern exposure.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Wow. The view east is awesome. It’s faint, but far off the Salton Sea is visible.
Heart 8 Comment 0
A slight exaggeration, but not by much. The fierce wind was blowing right toward the edge, with those badlands waiting several hundred feet down. Not a place to mess around.
Heart 5 Comment 0
A closer look. Reminds me of Zabrieski Point.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Great socks!
Heart 9 Comment 1
Jen GrumbyA man in his yellow-striped socks
The wind blowing his wild, untamed locks
He smiles 'fore the view
His socks hiding his shoe
While his buttocks rest on the rocks.
Reply to this comment
1 week ago

We stay at the summit for about a half hour, soaking in the views and watching the shadows gradually deepen.  By four though we decide it’s time to move on.  We’re tired of getting blasted by the wind, and we’d like to make it back to the car before nightfall.

The walk back is as slow for us as the walk up; and for the record, Bill beat our overall travel time for the day.  Slower up, but much faster down.  We’re impressed by his claim that he raced down in only half an hour, allegedly staying rubber side down 95% of the way.  Kudos, Mr. Stone!

The walk back has a different character than the way up.  Shadows grow longer and deeper  the sun nears and then drops below the horizon.  We keep as steady a pace as we can, walking opportunistically along the best path we can find.  We lose our way and get dead ended by ravines a few times and have to backtrack, but overall we’ve timed our outing perfectly.  We make it back to the trailhead about 20 minutes after the sun disappears, but while there’s still good visibility.  Best of all, the Raven is still there waiting for us and has no problem working it’s way through the shallow sand back to the road.

A view to the west. Badlands every which way you look.
Heart 3 Comment 0
The colors grow more dramatic as the day draws to a close.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Seems like an exposed spot to pitch your tent.
Heart 4 Comment 0
This late in the day, even the ruts in the road look dramatic.
Heart 4 Comment 0
The best hour of the day.
Heart 4 Comment 0
The colors change rapidly as the sun dips behind the mountains.
Heart 4 Comment 0
These colors. This is the same grey, eroded formation pictured at the start of the hike.
Heart 2 Comment 1
Jen GrumbyWow! What a transformation!
Reply to this comment
1 week ago
Maximizing the day.
Heart 4 Comment 1
Rate this entry's writing Heart 10
Comment on this entry Comment 0