Friday, May 3, 2002

San Francisco to Sydney - Day 18

Day 18 : Palm Springs

About fifteen minutes from downtown Palm Springs are a set of trails collectively known as the Indian Trails. There are around twenty trails in the set, ranging in difficulty from easy to life-threatening. Debbie and I walked two of the trails today : Victor Trail (2½ miles or 4 kilometres and rated moderately easy), and Andreas Canyon (½ mile or 800 metres and rated easy, with 'some rock scramble').

Palms at Palm Canyon On the Victor Trail, it was hot in the open without being oppressive. Down in the canyon though, the trail passes through palm oases (see the photo at left), and it's amazing how much cooler it is in these spots. The American Indians must have revered the individual who discovered these shady spots in the harsh, hot desert. Whoever named it Palm Canyon, however, couldn't have dug too deep into the naming hat.

Cacti on Victor Trail

At approximately the half-way point of the trail we began to encounter cacti in larger and larger numbers until, at one point, we crested a ridge to see a hill full of cacti of various shapes and sizes. It looked as though we were being ambushed by cacti; I suggested we raise our hands in the air and surrender, but Debbie pointed out that the cacti weren't moving, so we just kept right on walking.

Rattlesnake Sign

Allegedly, Victor Trail is 2½ miles or 4 kilometres long (as I noted above). It seemed longer, much longer, during the three hours we spent on it. It's also in rattlesnake country, as you can see from the photo of the sign at left, but I'm pleased to report that we did not encounter any of these during our three hours on the trail.

As we've now come to expect in California State Parks where such hazards exist, there was a notice with suggestions as to what to do on encountering a rattlesnake. Surprisingly the list did not include screaming whilst running in the opposite direction, so I've learned yet again not to trust my instincts. The notice informed interested readers that not all rattlesnakes rattle. This, I think, is just what we need : venomous creatures with silencers.

Around 1:00pm we completed the Victor Trail, returned to the Trading Post from which we'd started, and stopped for lunch. Afterwards, we drove a short distance to the head of the Andreas Canyon trail.

The word Andreas might sound vaguely familiar. Yes, it's the same Andreas as in San Andreas Fault. This fault line runs quite close to Palm Springs; it's virtually impossible to go anywhere populated in California and be very far away from some fault line or other.

Andreas Canyon The vegetation on the Andreas Canyon trail was, I suppose quite reasonably, very similar to that on the Victor Trail. The Andreas Canyon trail, though, did get a little closer to some rocky outcrops such as those you can see in the photo at left.

Also, both walks crossed over creeks that were well below their normal levels for this time of year. These levels are due to the unusually low levels of precipitation experienced in the area over the recent winter.

Given the similarity in the two trails we'd seen so far, Debbie and I decided not to attempt a third trail. Instead, we're saving ourselves for more hiking in the Joshua Tree National Park tomorrow.



Originally posted by TC

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