Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Valley of The Shadow of Death


Hiking in the desert in the summer can be deadly. Three people have died on the Lykken Trail in Palm Springs so I gave a great deal of thought to going there this afternoon. All three hikers died due to the heat on the trail and we know two were descending during the heat of the day. I would not repeat their mistake.

There were large thunderclouds over Mount San Jacinto but they didn't bring any rain. Without any rain to cool things down the temperature at the start of my hike was 105ยบ. But by late afternoon the trail is completely in the shadow of Mount San Jacinto.

The trail climbs up a series of switchbacks and it is a popular trail so it is easy to follow.

There are also numbers and white dots painted on the the rocks that have been there for as many years as I have been hiking this trail.

The switchbacks continue up the hill and there are a few sections where people have cut them. Cutting switchbacks is a major cause of trail erosion and should be discouraged.

After hiking a ways up the trail I come to a trail sign. That's one weird thing I've found about trails out here. There are several where you have to hike a mile or more before you come to a trail sign of any kind.

Of course, it might be a good thing this sign is not at the beginning of the trail. They spelled the name of the trail wrong. It's Lykken, not Lyken.

If it weren't enough to have three deaths this summer, we also have a reminder of someone else's death.

There's a large rock pile at the intersection of the Lykken Trail and the Museum Trail.

It's at this point that the Skyline Trail starts its climb up San Jacinto.

The warning is probably a little exaggerated as far as the time goes--it's never taken me longer than six hours--but it correct in regards to water. There is none nor is there any shade. Due to that, it is necessary to carry between 4-6 quarts of water just to make it. And once you start, there's no going back as the hiker deaths have shown us this summer.

The trail continues on past Tachevah Canyon, aka Dry Falls, but I won't be going there today.

The Museum Trail leads down to some picnic tables and a great view overlooking Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.

A view from near the picnic tables.

By waiting til the sun is behind the mountain limits the amount of time I can spend on the trail so I've got to get back to the trailhead before dark. I don't think this moon is going to help me at night.

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