Sunday, December 20, 2009

Magnesia Falls Mine and Bighorn Sheep


Magnesia Falls Canyon in Rancho Mirage is only open three months of the year, from October through December. It is really a shame because the canyon is a special place and spring is the best time to visit it.

Lots of people hike the canyon but I'm sure very few of them know there's a trail that leaves the canyon and heads up to a mining site. It's not a large mine, only some trenches and one pit short shaft about fifteen feet deep. I also think there's got to be a trail that leads to Cathedral City from the canyon. I haven't been able to follow it all the way but I know it's there. I'll find it yet.

After the hike in along a flood control ditch, you get to the fun stuff.

Climbing this big dry fall is much easier than it looks.

Someone has been up here and done a little work since I was here last. Either that or the rain just washed this clean and it looks new.

I hike up the canyon until I get to a big mesquite thicket. This is the site of Magnesia Spring. One thing I've learned from years of hiking in the desert is that where there is mesquite, there were sure to be have been Indians. It was a main food source for them.

I don't have to look far until I find some evidence of Indian activity.

With a little more exploration, I find a trail. I thought I saw this the last time I was in the canyon but it's nice to be sure.

I gain the ridge and see a couple of hikers in the canyon below.

The trail is mostly easy to follow but there are a few sections where I have to backtrack.

I notice from above some diggings in the earth and discover the mining area. I'd been here about twenty years ago but did not remember exactly how to get here.

I don't know what was mined up here but the earth has a different look to it.

There are several large trenches and this one vertical shaft about ten or fifteen feet deep.

I leave the mining area and start to head over in the direction of Cathedral City, hoping to find a distinct trail. What I find are several trails.

Some of which I'm sure were made by this guy.

He stands as if he is sizing me up for a while and then moves and crosses the slope below me.

He finds a good vantage point and stops again to check me out.

He's not really in a hurry to get anywhere which is good because it gives me time to get a few more pictures. One of these days I'm going to have to get a better camera, though.

It is amazing how well his body color matches that of the surrounding landscape. There have been times I have tried to point Bighorn out to groups of hikers where they couldn't be seen until they moved. They can be very well camouflaged.

I know some of the trails were made by the Bighorn but I doubt that they made this.

The trail I'm following, though, is heading more toward the Thunderbird Cove area in Rancho Mirage and not into Cathedral City as I'd hoped.

I'm going to have to do some more exploring in order to find the route that I want.

But it will have to be another day since the sun is already behind the hill and I've got a long way to go to get back and down the dry falls before dark.

Thankfully, I make it. Climbing up this fall during the day isn't too bad but I don't know how climbing down in the dark would be. I'm happy I don't have to find out.


darlene said...

holy moly!! you saw a bighorn! outstanding pictures. this was an awesome post. thanks thanks thanks. imonna miss your blog so much hal. you are an inspiration.

pranarun said...

Hey Hal,

Great post & photos.
I came across a ram on Dunn Rd. several years ago, he didn't pay me too much mind, until I got a bit closer, there so cool.
What you may be able to find in this area is some kind of route that might connect with the Cindy Whitehead tr. (former local mt. biker who had an event up there).
It use to leave SE upper part of Cat Cyn & climb abruptly to the south, can they were going to connect it with Art Smith, I helped cover it up w/ BLM & other "environs" since it wasn't approved & went through sensitive Bighorn areas.

Happy Holidays,

scott 2