Home of Marshal South in the Anza Borrego Desert
A Night on Ghost Mountain - What do Modest Mussorgsky, Marshal South, a full moon and I have in common? Perhaps nothing except this story, but we did all spend an interesting night together recently on Ghost Mountain in the Anza-Borrego Desert. Let me explain.
Modest Mussorgsky was a great 19th century Russian composer. For most Americans, his best known work is probably "Night on Bald Mountain". It has continued to capture the popular imagination since it was featured in Disney's Fantasia in 1940. As a child I was convinced that hideous winged demons of the night ruled lonely mountain tops, and were able to summon up the ghost spirits of the dead to terrorize and torment the living. To this day it is impossible for me to listen to the piece without such visions.
I thought it would be interesting to camp on Ghost Mountain on a full moon night and read stories by and about Marshal South while listening to "Bald Mountain." Sound weird? Well, it was. More...
The Lady in White
Ghosts in the Desert - The bride is a frail woman, dressed all in white, a look of sadness in her eyes that leaves you feeling cold and alone. In her wedding gown, she paces the adobe floor of Vallecito Station patiently waiting for the next stage to take her on to Sacramento. Her fiancé had struck it rich in the gold fields and had sent for her to join him in California.
She had arrived at Vallecito Station sometime in the late 1850s; she never left. The bride had become deathly ill during her journey and died at Vallecito Station. She was buried in an unmarked grave at Campo Santo, a few hundred yards from the station. It's said that if you camp near the old Vallecito Stage Station, you too will see "The Lady In White" restlessly pace the worn earth where the station once stood, still waiting for her stage to come. More...
Night Hiking Tips
The Desert at Night - There was a full moon, and a gray haze covered the desert night. Each step was placed with care, feeling the ground through the black tread of my boots. The trees creaked through the wind, their contorted arms looming over the trail. Goblin spires of sandstone created the labyrinth to maneuver ahead. From their studded bows, crickets scratched out a heightening symphony.
The rustling from a field mouse seen darting into the cover of sweetbush became amplified and menacing. Overhead, the span of an owl broke from its perch, flying into the blind corridor of darkness ahead. Two pipistrel bats split through a cloud of gnats before me, gathered by the light of my headlamp. More...
The Raven - Ravens are strong fliers that can hover in place like American kestrels or soar like a hawk. They may fly like stunt pilots at times, doing partial barrel-rolls in flight. The birds may form large flocks of over several hundred individuals during their autumnal migration. More...
Featured Readers Blogs
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