Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cook Canyon


In the Coachella Valley we are very lucky to be surrounded by wilderness areas, places that will forever be kept in their natural state and where visitation is only on foot or horseback. There is a good reason to be thankful for wilderness; the more accessible an area is, the more trashed up it becomes; wilderness is inaccessible on purpose.

Today I went to the end of Cook Street and started hiking. Now, for most people Cook Street ends just north of Interstate 10 but if you have a Jeep you can go just a bit further, several miles more. You drive on a sandy road just west of the Coachella Valley Nature Preserve. The area is obviously used for illegal dumping quite a bit because it is strewn with trash and old tires.

The road goes up a wash for a mile or two and ends when I get to a place where the Jeep just won't fit. Time to start walkin'.

Just around the corner you can see the creases left in the canyon wall by erosion and rushing water. Some of the marks are over ten feet high! I would not want to be here in a flash flood.
I come to a fork in the wash and I follow Yogi's advice and take it. (I go left).

The walls of the canyon are fascinating to look at. They are dried mud and rocks. Terrible stuff to climb on but interesting nonetheless.

There are a couple of little cave like openings along the way but I pass on those. Who knows what I'd find in there? Rattlesnakes? A dead body? A drug stash? There isn't anything good that I can think of so I say forget it.

At the end of the wash I get to a place where I have to climb up a hill to get to the top. I don't like it at all but I have to do it. Dried mud and loose rocks do not make for good climbing.

The view, however, is almost worth it. I get a nice view of the Santa Rosa Mountains and Mount San Jacinto and next to me is another canyon that one can actually drive further into. It's so peaceful at the top I almost forget I have to climb down. I'm not looking forward to it.

Climbing down that garbage is horrible. It's like walking down an ice slope covered with ball bearings. I almost have to scooch my butt on the ground like a dog with worms on a shag carpet. I retain my dignity, however, by leaning forward and grabbing the side of the dirt slope and doing a controlled slide. An uncontrolled slide would have resulted in broken limbs or worse. I don't want to do that again, ever. This picture is the one solid foothold I had.

I am actually happy to hit the wash and start hiking on sand again. It is the first time I've enjoyed hiking in sand. Getting back to the Jeep is a relief.

This area would be nice if access were a little tighter, the trash were cleaned up and maybe a trail or two were constructed to help climb the slippery death slopes. While it may never be a wilderness area, it could be a place for people to go, relax and find relief from their aggravations, without having to take their frustrations out on a poor ping pong table.


Anonymous said...

Hi! I just found your super cool blog and wanted to say YOU ROCK! Really great idea.

Hal Summers said...

Thanks! I've got some really cool stuff planned for summer.