Thursday, January 8, 2009

Join The Club

Hike now while you still can.  

Today I went to go hiking up Carrizo Canyon just south of Palm Desert.  I hadn't been up there in a few years so I thought I'd check it out.  Nice area, ends in a usually dry waterfall and fit my schedule for the day.  I was not happy to come upon this sign on a chain link fence that spanned the length of the canyon.  

It seems the Fish and Game biologists want to have a private playground without intruders so they put this area off limits under the guise of helping the Bighorn Sheep.  They seem to think that a few hikers walking quietly in the wild will disturb the sheep and do them harm. Shooting nets on sheep from helicopters, tranquilizing them and mounting radio collars on them is OK but walking quietly is wrong.  Oh, unless you're a biologist.  If you are, then you can hike around the sheep but no one else can.  They don't have the proper credentials.  It's like they have their own private little club.  Members Only.

So I figure I'll just hike on over to the Dead Indian Canyon and hike up to the Palm Oasis there. Nope.  That place is also now a country club for biologists and their friends.  Call the number and maybe they'll leave your name at the gate.
So I am forced to head up to the new Art Smith Trail.  You see, they have redirected the trail from its original path because it went too close to  an oasis where someone might see a sheep. I guess the shutter of cameras frightens them.  Like it does pro golfers.
So I hike up the Art Smith Trail a bit before turning around and find this fascinating view.  I find it fascinating because these multi-million dollar mansions and private golf courses are encroaching further and further into the prime sheep habitat that hikers are being banished from.  
It is funny that the biologists think the sheep are so skittish that they cannot handle hikers but development of mansions is just fine.  Like biologists, millionaires have their private clubs, too.  Hikers need a better club.  I don't think the Sierra Club is gonna help us.  They're all establishment now.  But I have to wonder how John Muir would feel about fences keeping hikers off public lands.

I don't know exactly how to explain how I feel about this whole situation but I saw something on the trail that sums up what I think about having to belong to a special club in order to enjoy the beauty of the desert without fences.

It's pure horseshit.

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