Friday, March 27, 2009

Land Grab


They're at it again. The land grabbers, I mean, managers have locked up yet another area in order to "protect the sheep". I just hate it when the public is locked off of public land. There's something about that that's just not right.

I headed over to Rancho Mirage to go to Magnesia Falls. I hiked here about a month ago but didn't climb the falls due to a sprained thumb and a lack of time. Well, the thumb is better and I have enough time this morning.

You cross this nice bridge to get to the "mountain park".

And then you have to cross this storm water catch basin in order to get to the canyon.

Unfortunately, you are met by this new sign that tells you the canyon is closed. I guess the person who put this sign here couldn't quite make it as a carpenter so they had to find themselves a government job.

This sign here tells you more about the closure. One of the things that peeves me about this whole land closure due to the sheep is that it is all based on pseudo-science. The biologists have not one bit of evidence that hikers impact the sheep. In fact, it has been noted for over 100 years, starting with George Wharton James in his monumental tome, The Wonders of the Colorado Desert, that sheep are unperturbed by human presence. There are a number of factors which have accounted for sheep's demise including being hit by cars, eating poisonous decorative plants, disease, mountain lion predation and being killed accidentally by biologists. Not once, to my knowledge, has a hiker ever been responsible for the death of a sheep. In fact, in Borrego Springs, they even keep count of all the sheep that are spotted by tourists hiking in Borrego Palm Canyon to no ill effect on the sheep. What's so different here?

Oh, I get it. It's a private party. You see, this land isn't closed to everyone. It's only closed to you and I. If you're "authorized" then it's OK to enjoy the canyon and the sheep. I guess sheep are only bothered by the unwashed cretins of the general public but not by the "experts" in the field. So if I spent seven years smoking weed in Humboldt while working on my four year degree, then it would be OK to hike here. I could be "authorized". But as it is, I'm unworthy.

I'm not going to let it bug me. I'll just go hike somewhere else today. Besides, if I go up there, the "experts" might come up and restrain me with a net and an attack helicopter like they do the Bighorn. I'm not ready to be collared and tracked.

So I decide to go over to South Palm Desert and ask the Visitor's Center if they have any maps on the new Wilderness areas just voted on by Congress, some of which are in our area. They don't. But they do have this fancy new stake with the number one on it. It must be from the stimulus money.

Now I see where the unclean hordes go who've been locked off other public land. I saw four large groups going on nature walks near the Visitor's Center. So much for solitude.

The flowers are dying out but at least I can appreciate the beauty of these cholla.

And this has got to be the biggest asparagus I have ever seen! Actually, that's the Desert Agave, Agave deserti. I wonder if you can make tequila out of them. I could use a shot or two right about now.

Oh Jeez! Yet another sign telling people where they can't go. When I hit two road blocks on the same day, it's time to head home.

I wish someone would explain to me why it is OK to deface the mountains and encroach on Bighorn habitat if you have untold millions of dollars but it is not OK for the public to enjoy the lands that they own.

On most days going hiking is a pure joy. There are a few days, however, where it can be frustrating. Today was just one of those days. Running into road blocks and closures is no fun when all you want to do is go out and commune with nature. People need places to get away from the everyday worries and find peace. It seems those places are getting tougher to find every day.

Thankfully, there are numerous other places to hike and find serenity. I just have to make sure I get to them before they close them off.

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