Full Moon Desert Hiking with Mike McElhatten

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Visitors come to Borrego Springs to see something they’ve never seen before or learn something they didn’t know before. What they want is the same as I want in a new environment – a unique story, a story of a place not yet experienced. For visitors to Borrego, it could be a story about birds or flowers, geology or archaeology, or local history or even astronomy. And because of my background and experience, I get great satisfaction in the telling of those stories and being with people enjoying a moment in time out in the desert.

I was the manager of a State Park in Idaho for more than 30 years, and I loved sharing my knowledge with others. After coming with my wife Terri to live here permanently in 2011, I realized I didn’t need a job or extra money, I needed something fun. But I took on the job as Program Director for the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association – hikes, lectures, interpretation – things that required planning for a real place, Borrego Springs, a town with lots of personality but no hype or glitz. It’s for free-spirited visitors with important values similar to mine, like the purity of our environment, who come here to learn about and enjoy the desert. Five years ago, I knew everybody in the room who came to my lectures. Now I know 15-20% of them, so there are lots of new folks, and I appreciate the feedback from all of them, and I hope they enjoy what we have for them here in Borrego.

A favorite activity is my Full Moon Desert Hike, where the entire landscape takes on very unusual aura, and no flashlights are needed. One day a middle-aged couple from Cincinnati, Ohio came out west for the first time, landing in San Diego. On a whim, having never seen a desert before, they decided to come to Borrego. And that first night they saw the world in a way they’d never seen it before. Out in the desert under a full moon, it’s easy to feel isolated, but in a good way, seeing Earth from a new perspective – you’re on a little rock in a very big universe.

This is the kind of Borrego Experience I enjoy sharing with others.