Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wednesday Walking

And walking.  And walking.

Technically the Palm Canyon trail is only about 1.5 miles each way.  Make that two miles each way when adding the extra from the RV campground to the trail head.  Coupled with the daily dog-walking, my FitBit got really excited.

That was my best day since I first put it on my arm on November 30th.

A beautiful day: a few clouds in the sky, not too warm.  The sign at the trail bottom recommended a gallon of water per hiker.   That must have been for summer months as two liters each was more than we needed to carry.  Due to the amount carried, we left Tom's real camera at home and had only our phones for pictures.  Next time we will do that differently.

Desert varnish: the red and black colors in the rock are caused by a micro-organism.

We hoped to get photos of the elusive Bighorn Sheep, but this time it was not to be.   They can generally only be seen if they move on the hills.

Cat's claw and honey mesquite along the trail.

Even a few small aspens as we climbed higher.

Many large rocks have fallen or washed down over the years.

This rock landed on top of a palm trunk, the later most likely washed down during the September 2004 flash flood.

About 1/2 mile from the oasis . . . water!

As we head up the creek toward the oasis.

A young palm amid the rocks.

 These sentries promise more around the next bend.

The main grove. 

Signs ask you not to climb over the barriers in hopes that the young trees will have a chance to grow.   A large percentage of the grove was lost in the 2004 flood.  Of course there were some younger people on the other side of the barriers.  To be fair, I believe that they had missed the main trail and rock-scrambled above the grove then and circled back down.

A desert waterfall.

Almost home.

I regret that we did not take this hike until our time here was almost gone.  It's now on our checklist as an annual event.

Weekend Wandering

Our latest rambles took us from the primitive camp you see near the top right of the map, along the Salado Wash to see a couple of palm oases.  From there the jeep took us through the Basin Wash and across the Cut Across trail to Buttes Pass Road.

At the 17 Palm Oasis you can clearly see how the palms are growing in a straight line from north to south along what is a fault.   There are now more than 17 palms if you count the youngsters.

A magnificent view of the badlands from a rise above the oasis.

The Salton Sea in the distance.

The 5 Palm Oasis is more like 4 palms and one dead guy who fell down the hill.

The Basin Wash tested Tom's driving skills.  We were glad to not meet other traffic on a few of the blind turns.

Font's Point as seen from Cut Across Road.

Below: Buttes Pass Road.  We stopped and explored a couple of side canyons on foot.   It felt like being in an old western movie.  There should have been outlaws or Indians hiding in the rocks of the box canyons.

We stopped for lunch on a side road to Hawk Canyon that we took on a whim.  It was an incredible geologic find.  I was able to find this thesis written by Cal Poly student Jeffrey Pepin.  What we noticed first was that the north side of the canyon wall was composed of old granite while the south side was sandstone.

The rock colors are actual.  Red.  Blue.  Green.

This green mound was covered with small white thin stones.  Fossilized shells?

The chute of an ancient and long-dry waterfall at the primitive campsite in the canyon.

The sign below it "No Wool Gathering" amused us.  It could have been a reference to the bighorn sheep in the area (borrego is spanish for lamb) but I'm pretty sure it used to say "No Wood Gathering" before someone had his way with it.

 Other visitors had left ice from their cooler in the campfire ring.  Everything in the desert is thirsty and constantly searching for water, including the bees.

An interesting find set aside by a previous visitor: wood that is completely fossilized on only one side.


After leaving Hawk Canyon, we went as far as the parking area at the top of The Slot.  We will leave further exploration, whether by jeep or on foot, for another day.