Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Spring Cleaning


After two days of hiking in the San Jacinto Mountains, I was back in the desert today. Since yesterday's hike was about 15 miles long, I decided I'd take it easy today and go do one of my favorite easy desert hikes, the McCallum Palms Trail at the Coachella Valley Nature Preserve.

I notice the new summer hours with the Preserve opening now at 6 a.m. That's nice to know since I'll probably be hiking here during the summer. It's very unlikely I'll ever be coming at 6 a.m. but it's nice to know.

As I pull into the parking lot, I notice that there is a big pile of palm fronds on the left side. Looks like they've been doing a little spring cleaning around here.

It also looks like they've been doing a little maintenance on the walkways as well.

Although this job still has a ways to go.

Considering how many flowers were here earlier in the year, there is an almost complete dearth of flowers. The only flowers I notice are these Arrowweed blooms.

As I come upon the McCallum Grove, it looks like they've been doing a little spring cleaning here as well.

They really took the weed whacker to these reeds.

Thankfully, they left enough so this dragonfly has a place to land. Despite the warmer weather, I have probably seen more wildlife today than on any of my other excursions here. There were also a lot of flies, bees and other insects.

I saw tons of lizards although they are tough to photograph. They bolt as soon as I get close but, occasionally, I can catch one sunning itself on a rock.

I catch this little cottontail just before he vanishing into a brier batch.

About the only critter I don't see is the one that they warn you about at the entrance. I have yet to see a rattler this year but I have no doubt I will be seeing one before the year is out. I don't mind seeing a rattler. It's the ones I don't see that worry me.

Usually when I've come here the parking lot has been filled with cars. This time, there were four. I guess the snowbirds have gone home. But if you're an early bird this is a great place to come to hike. Or, if you're like me and NOT an early bird, the summer also holds forth the possibility of seeing more wildlife and fewer people than any other time of year. Just make sure you have ample water and keep those hikes short. And, like the sign says, keep an eye for rattlers.

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