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.

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