Saturday, February 28, 2009

You Can't Keep A Good Man Down

Day Fifty Nine

Today my quest to hike every day, and possibly more, almost came to an end but I'll get to that later.

There is no better place on earth than the desert right now. The weather is perfect with warm days and cool evenings and the rain we had a few weeks ago has brought forth vegetation everywhere. I don't know why other people don't hike every day.

This afternoon, I headed up a trail here in La Quinta that I took with my son and his friend last month. The three of us went up a canyon where there were a couple of water tanks and some dry waterfalls. This time, however, instead of going up the canyon I took a different fork and went up toward a saddle between Coyote Mountain and Indio Mountain.

At this sign, I take the trail to the right and head up toward Coyote-Indio Pass.

There a lots of flowers along the way like these white Forget Me Nots and the purple Notch-leafed Phacelia.

I also spot the first Arizona Lupine that I've seen this year.

The trail is heavily ducked with cairns, which is silly because the trail is easy to follow. One of my hiking pet peeves is the over ducking of obvious trails. I feel it distracts from the hiker's wilderness experience and also robs the novice hiker of the opportunity to learn how to find and follow a trail without assistance. Without the cairn on the right is there really a chance I would miss this trail?

The first Desert Mallow of the season for me.

I get up near the pass and hear the sound of someone moving above me. I look up and see some Desert Bighorn crossing the pass and moving across the mountain. Watching them traverse the hillside for about twenty minutes I am in awe of their balance and strength. It is amazing how easily they navigate the loose, rocky terrain of these Santa Rosa Mountains.
(Click on this, or any, picture to enlarge).

Silhouetted against the desert sky. I am sad today that my camera with 12X optical zoom has to be sent in for repair. This is one day I really would have liked to have had it.

I give up on the idea of making it to the pass today and decide to head back. What could I possibly see up there that would be better than watching those sheep on the mountain? I spot my first Ghost Flower on the way down.

Also, I see this Red Barrel Cactus getting ready to bloom.

If not for a slight mishap on my way down this would have been a perfect hike. As I was heading back to the car, coyotes began to serenade me. Somehow lost in their plaintive chorus and the afterglow of watching the Bighorn, I wasn't paying attention and took a pretty good tumble, probably the worst I have ever taken on a hike. I was coming down the trail on the embankment of a wash and lost my footing. Without any chance of correction, I hurled headfirst down the hillside. Luckily for me a Desert Lavender was there to grab onto and help me slow my plummet.

I stop abruptly as my head hits a boulder and my shoulder slams into the wash bottom. My noggin has about a two inch long divot but no serious damage. It won't need stitches. Like a boxer after a flash knockdown, I jump to my feet to regain my senses. I quickly assess the damage: no blackout, no dizziness, no major pain. I jammed my thumb and abraded my shoulder and forearm but nothing more serious, thank God. I lose my glasses but after a quick prayer manage to locate them. Time to get home. I think about calling my wife but I don't want to freak her out. She'd send the National Guard, the Marines and every Search and Rescue team within 250 miles. I make it to the car without mishap.

After a shower and little ice on my thumb, I feel pretty good. Of course, I might not tomorrow morning but that's what Advil is for. My little mishap is certainly not the ideal way to end my second month of hiking every day but I am happy that until now, except for a few minor scratches, I have been completely injury free. A sprained thumb is no big deal. I'm glad I didn't sprain my ankle.

There is something to be said for being hard headed. Some people might take a tumble like this as an omen and call off their quest but I'll be on the trail tomorrow, albeit a little more cautious, perhaps. I'll stop before I start to daydream from now on.

Life is never going to be perfect and we're all going to take a tumble from time to time but it's not how many times you fall, it's how many you get up, right?

See you on the trail.

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