Thursday, December 31, 2009

Palm Canyon Trading Post to Bullseye Rock


Bullseye Rock is a place in the Indian Canyons that holds an interesting place in the history of the Cahuilla Indians. It was known as the You coo hal ya me?, The place of many brains. The story goes that the Indians of Palm Springs had a dispute with the Indians of Seven Palms and a raiding party was formed. The Palm Springs warriors slaughtered their foes and carried their heads back in nets to Bullseye Rock. Here, their heads were rolled down the rock and dashed to bits. It is easy to see how this could have been done. There's a little trough running down the face of Bullseye Rock and a head would probably roll down it quite nicely.

Starting at the Trading Post, the trail to Bullseye Rock has a sign now. Sort of. Bullseye Rock is not listed on any sign but it is in the vicinity of Indian Potrero, an old village site.

You go through the Palm Canyon Oasis and its over 3000 palms including the Rainbow Palm.

The trail goes straight through the palms and then ascends up out of the canyon and onto the ridge.

From there, the hike goes overland and offers great views of the San Jacinto Mountains to the west and Santa Rosa Mountain (seen here in the background) to the south.

After about a mile, you come to another sign near Dry Wash. Off to the right there are some non descript looking rocks that are very significant in the history of the Cahuilla people.

This area of rocks was basically the maternity ward for the Indians of this region. The rocks in the foreground that are pock marked are covered with cupules. These little petroglyphs are placed here to represent and significant event, probably a birth or a pregnancy.

There are dozens of them.

Here's a closer look.

After leaving the birthing rocks, I continue on to Indian Potrero. Potrero is a Spanish word meaning meadow or pasture. It is easy to see why this area got its name. This nice little flat is littered with mesquite bushes, a major food source for the Indians.

It doesn't take much looking around before I find a bedrock mortar. This one is filled with water and I place my pole basket near it so you can get an idea of its size.

A little more searching around brings me to this rock shelter. There is a significant amount of pitch on the top of this shelter so it's obvious it was used for a long time.

There are two large bedrock mortars here and a mano. A smaller mortar is just out of view.

A couple more bedrock mortars are nearby.

On the way to Bullseye Rock, I find a couple small pottery sherds.

This is Bullseye Rock. If you enlarge the picture and look close you can see the groove that a head would roll nicely down. Beyond the rock is Bullseye Flat and beyond that, Mad Women Spring. I won't be going there today but will save that for another trip. The Canyons are closing early today and I got a late start. Bullseye Flat has more Indian areas of significance and there's an old line shack with provisions at Mad Women Spring. They'll have to wait for another day, another year. I'd love to do a backpack trip here and do some real exploring.

The Cahuilla had names for all kinds of places, streams, rocks, geologic features. I wonder what they would have called this leaning rock?

On my way back I find more pot sherds without really even looking for them.

There are also some more areas where rocks were used as a kitchen.

It has been quite a hike and quite a year. I plan on doing an overview of my favorite hikes and pictures of the year in the coming days.

It has been an incredible experience to hike every day this year. I have discovered places I would have never known existed and now have leads on more places to explore in the future. While I will not be hiking every day in the coming years, I will not be giving up blogging or hiking. What I intend to do is concentrate more on quality instead of quantity. I also want to add video and other multimedia components. Keep coming back and if you have a favorite hike or picture, post a comment or send me an email.

Thanks for your love and support. Have a great 2010.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

With Hope Unwavering


Way back in January when I started this endeavor I went and hiked up the hill behind Saint Francis of Assisi Church here in La Quinta. There's a cross at the top of the hill and I thought that would be fun to hike up to. I was wrong. The hillside was mostly loose rocks and not fun at all. The view was good but that was about all. On top of that, I lost my keys. I went back a few times to try and find them but no luck. I figured I'd try one more time.

Find the original story here.

I'm looking up the chute that I have to climb and I feel like I've returned to a bad dream. These rocks are not made for climbing. They are loose and unstable, not fun.

The climbing goes quickly and I get to where I have to traverse to the cross. I won't be going down this way and I'm glad.

I traverse over to the cross and climb the final slope to the top. This is terrible climbing with loose rocks on top of loose dirt. I have to commend whoever it was that hauled a cross up here.

The view, however, is wonderful.

I hear a screech from the north and see a couple of Red Tail Hawks dancing on the breeze.

I watch them for several minutes until they disappear into the heavens.

I know my keys are somewhere on this face but I am not looking forward to the climb down.

I did come better prepared this time, though. I brought a collapsible ski pole to help my balance on the way down. I also say a prayer as well, just in case.

I hike down the face and get to the cross just above the church parking lot and while I saw old cans and tatters of mylar balloons there are no keys. I leave to hike down to the parking lot and wonder if it's really worth another trip up here. I get to where I'm about fifteen feet above the parking lot and realize I'm off route. I start to move over to get back on course and...

Oh My God! It's a miracle! I cannot believe what I am seeing but it is my keys. They are here in plain view and I cannot believe that I nor anyone else ever spotted them. They have been sitting here, exposed to the elements, for almost a full year. Even more unbelievable is when I get home the keyless remote still opens The Wife's minivan.

I have just one day left and I will have succeeded in hiking every day for this entire year. It's been an incredible experience and one I don't plan on doing this hike. When you've done what you've set out to do, why do it again?

That doesn't mean I don't have plans for next year and beyond. Stay tuned for what's next. Hiking every day for a year is only the beginning.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Midnight Rambler


Work and hiking sometimes do not mix. In fact, they seldom do. But today they were especially opposed to one another. I had two choices when it came to hiking today: wake up before the sun (again) and greet the day or wait until after work and wander around in the moonlight. After yesterday's debacle I figured the latter would be the best--no, the only--choice. There was no way I was waking up early this morning.

It's a couple of days until the full moon. For the hiker, it is even better than the full moon because the moon is much higher in the sky earlier than on the night that the moon is at 100%. The moonlight is so intense that I don't even bother to bring a headlamp.

I considered going to Palm Desert, Palm Springs and the Tramway but settled on hiking near home in La Quinta. I don't have a spare tire so I really didn't want to drive very far.

The moonlight is so bright it illuminates everything around. I can make out the shapes of mountains miles away. Unfortunately, my camera cannot capture that image so I have one of this palm tree instead.

Not only is the trail lit by the moon, it also sort of looks like it.

In the moonlight, plants all look fairly similar because you can make out shapes but not really detail. So, rule one is don't touch anything. You might think it's a harmless Desert Lavender but instead it's a Pencil Cholla. These hurt.

The only plant that is easy to differentiate is the Ocotillo. There's nothing else that looks like this. And don't touch these either. They have HUGE spines.

I caught Kahlua stalking something but it was only her own shadow. When I took this picture it went away.

There's a certain magic to walking in the moonlight whether in the mountains, at the beach or in the desert. The darkness adds to the feeling of solitude and requires that you move slower than in the daylight. There's an opportunity to drink in more wildness than during the day. And since the full moon isn't for two more days, you have a chance to get out and experience it yourself. Take an hour and walk around the closest trail to your home in only the moonlight. You'll come home a different person. I do every time.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Old Mines East of Hayfield


It is a good thing that I am near the end of my yearlong adventure. If I'd had any day like today earlier in my endeavor I doubt very seriously that I'd have gotten this far.

My hike started out well enough. I headed east of Interstate 10 and got off on the Red Cloud Mine exit. I went north and started exploring the mountains in the southeastern corner of Joshua Tree National Park. It wasn't until after the hike that things went downhill.

Driving along the road I see this sign. They don't ever put these where there's nothing to protect so this is a good indicator that something of interest is nearby.

I head up the wash west of the sign and see this large pile of tailings on the hill.

Hiking up to the top of the pile I see a tunnel going back quite a ways. I would follow it to the end but the only light I brought is a very small LED headlamp and it doesn't offer quite enough light for me to feel comfortable. Also, who'd call for help if this thing caves in?

I hike around for about another hour and don't find much to report until I come to this. It looks like this just might be some old Indian rock shelter.

A pottery sherd lying near the entrance makes this seem very promising.

There is a large amount of tarry pitch on the roof of the main room of the shelter.

This must have been in use for a long time because there are several rooms and each one is covered with pitch. This is Grandma's room.

And this room belonged to the kiddies.

After leaving the rock shelter and traversing along the hillside I come upon this tree that looks like someone cut off the end of all the branches.

I quickly discover why: someone lived here.

They also mined here. There are lots of tailings around this hillside.

This mine goes down rather than into the hill so I don't want to get too close.

There is a tunnel but I'm faced with the same not enough light problem so I won't be going in.

And this one is just a tad too small.

Up the hill there are lots more tailings so let's see what's up there.

There's a whole superstructure that was set up in order to tap a vein but I won't be doing any exploring here.

The whole mountaintop is being supported by a bunch of old timbers. Now that looks real safe. So I looked around a little more and hiked back to the Jeep. That's when the fun began.

I stopped to take a picture of this sunset and got a flat. Somehow the key that removes my spare got lost--I'm terrible with keys--and so I had to drive miles on a flat in order to get to a place where a tow truck could meet me. The wife drove out to Chiriaco Summit to rescue me but Russ, the tow truck guy, managed to get the lock off of the spare and I was able to drive home, getting there about four hours after finishing my hike.

Now I've got to get a new tire and these things aren't cheap. I just hope the rim's OK.