Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Notch On The Belt


This afternoon I headed out to the Mecca Hills hoping to find some shade. According to Philip Ferranti in his book, 8,768 Super Stupendous Hikes in Palm Springs, The Coachella Valley And Other Places I Think Are Cool, or something like that, there's a canyon that he calls "Coffee Bean" Canyon. I figured I'd go and check it out.

I drove out through beautiful downtown Thermal and headed toward the Mecca Hills. At a place where the directions tell you to take a right, I took a right and ran right into a locked gate. Not literally, of course, I put on my brakes but the gate definitely barred my passage. According to the directions, I could've walked two miles down the road to get to the canyon but there was no shade on the road so time for some improvisation. I went back to where the directions told me to go right and went left instead. That led me into Thermal Canyon and a Jeep road up a sandy wash. I could have gone on for quite a while in this wash and the ridge road it brought me to but with hiking being my goal it was necessary to get out and walk.

The sign said the Wilderness was on either side of the road so I found a good parking spot and off we went.

I saw this hill (and some shade!) and decided that climbing it would be necessary. On the topo it is called Notch although I can't see why. It doesn't look like any notch to me.

From the top there is certainly a wonderful view. This little hill overlooks the entire Mecca Hills plus you can see the Salton Sea, the Coachella Valley, the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains and that's just looking in one direction.

Looking to the Northwest you see this interesting formation. Maybe this is the notch that the name refers to. Perhaps Notch is short for Notch View.

And if you look to the Southeast, you get another view of a notch-like formation.

"I don't care how the mountain got its name. May I have some water, please?"

After enjoying some water, we enjoyed a sunset over San Jacinto.

We still had some light so we decided to explore a little more. Once the weather gets cooler, we'll be in these hills a lot. There are tons of canyons and adventures awaiting.

Before we leave, we decide to take a short little stroll down one of them. Notch Canyon I'm guessing this one is called.

The canyon is quite rocky but passable.

The walls are steep and crumbly. I considered coming down this way from the top of Notch Hill but am glad I didn't.

This is a very interesting landscape and one that deserves more exploration.

Today, however, the moon will not provide sufficient light to venture further so we head back.

We get back to the Jeep just a few minutes after I need to pull my headlamp out of my pack. The stars are starting to shine.
As are the lights of the valley below. Locked gates cannot diminish adventure or discovery; there are just too many wonderful places to explore. All it takes is the right frame of mind, although a Jeep and a dog sure do help.

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