Monthly Archives: December 2014

image

7 Hikes 7 Days~Day 7: Mission Creek Preserve, Desert Hot Springs

image

Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Cafe

I figured that for hike #7 (the final of our video series) we deserved a picnic! So I called my friends Jennifer and Christophe at Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Cafe and asked them to surprise me with something delicious. Before heading out I stopped by their beautiful business and grabbed what may quite possibly be the most elegantly and thoughtfully  prepared picnic basket there ever was!

image

Everything is SO cute inside Clementine and the food…DELICIOUS!

image

Clementine owners, Jennifer and Christophe packing our picnic

image

Cottonwood Tree in wetlands

Now to the hike. This 4,760 acre preserve owned by the Wildlands Conservancy, is located in the transition zone between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts.The flora and fauna represents both deserts. Here you will enjoy wetlands along with beautiful eroding painted hills, dry desert and a perennial stream.

image

Cholla cactus

image

Creosote seeds

Several animals roam these parts, deer, bear, bighorn sheep and mountain lions. In the spring, there is typically an explosion of wildflowers. It was a warm fall day when we set out…no water(which is really rare) and not many wildflowers this time of year. The creosote, which is one of my favorite desert plants, looked lush and was full of fluffy seed pods.

image

It looks like fall in the picnic area near the stone cabin

There is a stone house at the end of the main trail with picnic tables inside. For those with a desire for more adventure, the main trail leads on to the Pacific Crest Trail.

image

Anyone care to take a dip?

No, it’s not just a mirage, make sure to stop and check out the remains of an old pool and fireplace, still standing from when the preserve was an old dude ranch for celebrities looking to escape the limelight.

image

Stone shade structures complete with picnic tables inside

Near the parking area there are more picnic opportunities in rustic stone shade structures. Now for the moment I’ve been waiting for…Thank you once again to the fine folks at Clementine for packing our delicious picnic! Let’s eat…

image

Picnic time…finally!

image

I’m more than ready to celebrate the final shoot of #7hikes7days!

image

Cheers to a job well done man behind the camera!

Of note: 3.5 miles easy, time about 2 hours

image

7 Hikes 7 Days~ Day 6: Lost Horse Mine, Joshua Tree National Park

There are so many breathtaking hikes to choose from inside Joshua Tree National Park. I selected Lost Horse Mine today because I liked the story behind it and also because I brought along a couple of dudes who I thought would think it was “boss!”

image

Lost Horse Mine

image

Here are the dudes, they are saying, “Are we there yet?”

My boys, 10 and 5, were pretty excited  about heading to this mysterious spot where old gold miners once prowled. Yet, they weren’t quite  AS excited when they realized there was a 4 mile walk involved.

image

My boys checking out the old mining equiptment

image

A piece of history, Lost Horse Mine

The trail actually retraces the original mining road to the old gold mine. The oral tradition is that in 1893 cowboy Johnny Lang discovered the mine when he went looking for his lost horse. He quickly filed the claim and began mining. Between 1894 and 1931 the mine produced 10,000 ounces of gold and 16,000 ounces of silver.

image

Mine ruins

At the end of the trail there are several rewards, one, the well preserved remains of the huge 10 stamp mill that is Lost Horse Mine and the other, the  breathtaking view from 5,278 feet up.

image

Capture the view, mysterious man behind the camera

image

Beautiful vistas

image

Joshua Tree and my Beau, look at the size difference!

On the trail you’ll see mostly Yucca Trees, Juniper and a few Joshua Trees. If you’re lucky you’ll spy several quail families foraging in the low lying scrub brush and finally (going against all I learned in Journalism school) I have saved the best for last…we spotted this  darling, curious coyote hanging on the side of the main road, hoping for a handout!

image

Coyote cutie

Of note: 4 mile loop, moderate, time about 3-4 hours

image

7 Hikes 7 Days~ Day 5: The Grottos, Mecca Hills

image

The mysterious man in jeans behind the camera

This hike is full of surprises! The landscape is dry, desolate and otherworldly. In just a matter of minutes the climb rewards you with spectacular views of the Salton Sea and the Chocolate Mountains beyond.

image

The decent is fast the landscape barren

You will continue along a barren mocha colored ridge line and every couple of steps, spot creamy white glistening chunks of quartz.

image

Follow the arrows and metal posts through the wash

After traipsing across the bleak ridge trail, you will drop down into a wash and make your way across it before heading into a long winding canyon.

image

image

When a mountain looks like a wave you know you’re on the San Andreas Fault

The cliffs are formed from mud and rocks and it’s easy to see how erosion has worked to create the cave system that you are heading towards.

image

Gorgeous rainbow colored rocks from the hills ahead

Mineral deposits have worked their magic to create rainbow colored canyon walls. The shades of purple, pink, green, amber and rose are so vibrant it’s hard to believe they’re real.

image

A lush palm oasis is the perfect spot for a rest and a snack

Make sure to take a breather in a picture perfect palm oasis along the way.

image

We made it to the Grottos, now you go in first!

Mother nature shocks you around every bend, especially at the end of the long and winding canyon, where you will dead end into a cave system. Fire up the flashlights and step inside the small crevice in the canyon wall. Some of the openings inside require a belly shimmy.

image

The second small opening, get on your belly and head inside

image

Explore the winding cave system…oh is it AMAZING

Get a little dirty, it’s worth it. You can either scramble up rocks and out the other end of the cave or navigate back the way you came. This hike will truly make you feel like you have earned an adventurer badge.

7 miles ~ strenuous takes approx 6 hours

image

7 Hikes 7 Days ~ Day 4: Carrizo Canyon, Palm Desert

Because of bighorn lambing (breeding) season, the Carrizo Canyon Ecological Reserve is only open 3 months out of the year (October, November, December) making it extra special.

image

The trail starts in this lush wash

The trailhead is a 5 minute drive from the bustling El Paseo shopping district but you would never know it once you enter the pristine wilderness. The hike starts through a wide sandy wash filled with healthy Smoke Trees, creosote bush and Desert Willows.

image

The mysterious gent behind the camera

 

image

A verdin nest nestled in desert lavender

image

The mouth of the canyon

Once you enter the mouth of the canyon, look up often, you have a really good chance of spotting a bighorn sheep, we did!  When my husband saw the ram, it already had its eye on us. He’s so regal looking isn’t he? I have to say, all my years of living in the Coachella Valley and hiking, I’ve only seen a bighorn in the wild a couple of times.

image

Evidence that bighorn are near

Even if you don’t see a bighorn on this hike, you will see plenty of evidence that bighorn often roam the canyon floor!

image

Barrel and Cholla cacti line the ridge

image

An oasis of one

image

A siesta in the shade of a California fan palm

Cholla and Barrel cactus line canyon walls and peppered along the tops, some very large Ocotillos. A lone California fan palm is the perfect spot for a rest before moving on to explore the falls.

image

Small waterfall and Ian-diana Jones WATCH OUT FOR THAT ROCK!

All the falls are mostly dry unless we’ve had a pretty good rain. You can scramble the side of the first falls and explore several  others complete with a small palm oasis and cottonwood trees.

Of note: 3 miles , moderate, takes approx 2 hours, no dogs

image

7 Hikes 7 Days~ Day 3: Homestead ‘Cross’ Trail, Palm Desert

image

The cross at the top of the trail

Has the illuminated cross atop the mountains in Palm Desert seemed a bit of a mystery to you? Truth be told, it was to me too until a few years ago. Living here in the Coachella Valley I had obviously seen it for years (I can see it from my backyard) but never took a moment to find out why it was there. I also, until a few years ago, didn’t know that there was a trail leading to the top.

image

A short and steady climb to the top

If you too are unfamiliar with the Homestead ‘Cross’ Trail…finish reading this blog, of course, then stop everything and head up the side of the mountain to experience it for yourself.

A bit of history: a wooden cross  was first put at the peak in 1981 by a College of the Desert Student. It was replaced by the current 16x 30 foot illuminated version in 1996.  The cross is maintained by Saint Margaret’s Church at the base of the mountain.

image

Desert sky at dawn

image

The mysterious man behind the camera

image

Hello sunrise!

For purposes of the 7hikes7days video series, we chose to do this hike at sunrise. The views this time of day are extra special, you can see every curve of the silhouetted mountains, gentle and sharp against a pink glowing sky. Below, swarms of lush palm trees look like blankets of varying  greens.

image

Homestead Trail…I heart you

image

Look for the large pile of heart shaped rocks along the way

This is a spiritual trek for a lot of people and a popular meditation spot as well. Along the way you’ll see a collection of heart shaped rocks, find your own and add it to the mountainside. Once you make it to the top, grab a seat on the generous sized rocks and contemplate the climb or life itself. Attached to the base of the cross is a box containing a notepad and pen, take time to share your thoughts and enjoy the wrap around vistas before heading back down the trail.

image

Grab the notepad from the box on the cross and leave a message

This hike starts at the base of the Homme Adams Park which is an off leash dog park. Dogs are welcome on the trail too but must be leashed.

image

Homme Adams Park, an off-leash area for dogs down below

Of note ~ 3 miles, moderate, elevation gain 700 ft, takes about 1 hour