DAY TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY NINE
Dead Indian Canyon is a wonderful little paradise in South Palm Desert. The hike is not hard but it's fun due to some rock hopping involved and the potential of finding running water in the canyon. The palm oasis in the canyon is a terrific destination for a family hike or just a morning or afternoon jaunt. When I first moved to the desert, way back in the mid 80s, people could drive way back into the canyon and hippies used to come back here and party a lot. Today, it's not possible to drive very far into the canyon so not too much partying goes on these days.
When I went to the trailhead. I fully expected to be hiking on the Art Smith Trail. The last time I went to Dead Indian Canyon, the canyon was closed and there was not signage indicating when, or if, it would be opening again.
The gate is open and evidently will be until December 31. The best time of the year to hike here is in the Spring but unfortunately that's the time it's closed. It's seems silly to me because in the Spring the Bighorn have ample forage and water throughout the Santa Rosas and if they needed to close the canyon at all, the Fall would be the season the Sheep most need to be here undisturbed.
According to legend, the canyon and oasis get its name from some early visitors who heard weird sounds at night and assumed it was from an Indian spirit. I've heard weird sounds at night here but I always just assumed it was the wind in the palm fronds.
The fun part of this hike begins when the wash ends and the rocks begin. I love this type of rock hopping.
This collared lizard settles down for the evening with a rock pillow.
The oasis is in very good shape although there is not surface water visible. Years ago this oasis always had water and the water sometimes ran down the canyon. In recent years, though, water has been sparse and the last time I saw water in this canyon was the wet winter we had about four or five years ago.
I don't head into the palms or to the dry waterfall beyond them. It's getting late and I don't want to scramble down those rocks in the dark. As much as I like rock hopping I don't relish the idea of doing it in the dark.
On the way out of the canyon I see three sheep high on the canyon walls. My good camera hasn't been repaired yet so I can't get a real close shot. But that's OK because the sheep have been here for years and will continue to live in the cliffs around this oasis.
And another thing hasn't changed after all these years: hippies still come here, too.