Monday, September 7, 2009

In The Beginning


Today the weather was remarkably nice in the desert; I don't think it even hit 100º. But I still wanted it to be cooler so I headed up Highway 74. When I left home I had every intention of hiking down to Horsethief Creek on the Cactus Spring Trail. That didn't happen. For some reason I was drawn to go somewhere else and I ended up going toward the upper section of Palm Canyon instead.

I get to the end of the road which is the beginning for a hiker. Palm Canyon runs 18 miles down to the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation. I won't be taking the main trail very far but will instead be heading up toward the headwaters of Palm Canyon.

There's a homemade sign pointing to the Pines to Palms Trail. It's a bit of a weird name.

Because there's not a pine tree in sight. There are trees up higher on Santa Rosa Mountain but not one near the trail. Just Ribbonwood, Manzanita, Yucca and other various chaparral.

There is also a profusion of Beavertail Cactus. But I don't think Cactus to Palms Trail has as nice a ring to it as the Pines to Palms.

We get to a split in the trail and all the footprints and mountain bike tracks head off to the right. Kahlua knows which way we're going: to the left, of course.

The trail is easy to follow and, according to the map, ends just above the upper reaches of Palm Canyon. This is the first time I've ever gone this way and I hope we can hit the canyon and follow it down to the other trail and make a nice loop.

There are good views all around of the mountains in the area. Pine Mountain here looms in the background.

I get to the canyon itself and quickly realize that I'm not going down there. The canyon is choked with brush and trees. There are several cottonwood and sycamores growing down there, meaning there has to be a steady source of water.

It's hard to get a good shot through the vegetation but I think there's a good flow of water down there. I am disappointed that this will be the end the line today.

Down on the other side of the bank is a nice rock formation that looks like it would've made a good campsite. I cannot see any indication of trails in this area but once I come back with proper clothing, footwear and perhaps another human along it'll be an interesting place to explore. I just have to remember to bring a machete. Seriously.

Looking up the canyon you can see the incredible amount of vegetation in the canyon. Did I say I'd need a machete? I may need a chainsaw.

I guess Pines to Palms might be a good name after all. I've actually found a Piñon Pine here.

Looking around in an area that looks like it'd be a nice campsite I find this mortero. Someone else obviously thought this a good spot to camp, as well.

It's not a very deep grinding hole so this was not a major place of occupation but rather just a stopover campsite. But I'm sure there are plenty of other things around to see. This area is wild and largely unexplored and I can't wait to come back.

I'm looking forward to coming back up here and as I notice smoke from a distant fire pouring into the valley I think about the extreme fire danger in these mountains this year and pray we don't have anything like they had in the San Gabriel Mountains up here. It's gonna be a long fire season.

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