Friday, July 23, 2010

Trip report:Big Morongo Canyon Preserve 07/22/2010, video page to come later.

When I woke up this morning, I knew it would be a special day- I just didn’t know to what
degree. After doing laundry first thing, I decided that’s it, I’m getting out of the big city.
So I went home, picked up my canteen fanny pack belt, my trusty digicam and my new
Morongobill desert rat hat, gassed up the Morongomobile, and took off.

The plan was to get to the desert and then make a decision what to do, based primarily
on the temperature. 100 degrees+ head to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, 90 degrees
or so, head up to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Well, it was 91 at the I-10 rest stop
and up to Morongo Valley I went, via Hwy#62.

I had already stopped at Fresh-N-Easy in Buena Park where instead of buying 2- 1 liter
bottles at 79 cents a piece, I got 3 16.9 ounce bottles for 99 cents, because I am cheap,
don’t forget this, it will be important later. Once in Morongo Valley, I made a stop at the little
Morongo Valley market next to the post office, where I got vanilla cream soda and a bag
of yogurt covered peanuts. Remember that also.

I then drove over to the preserve where I had a great conversation with a gentleman named
Randy Partlow, about my age, who gave me some real good information about the trails
and some good advice about not drinking the cream soda. Unfortunately I had already
opened it, he was kind enough to take this photo of me and I took one of him as well.
bigmorongocanyonhike 001

Morongobill above, Randy’s in the next photo below. I really like the hiking staff he had. 

After talking for a few minutes, we shook hands and I told him to check the blog out
as I’d be writing about this hike. Folks, let me just say that “in the country” people
are usually really generous, sharing their knowledge and their time. I was really
pleased to meet Randy and talk with him!bigmorongocanyonhike 002

Well off I went, along the trail, I came across a huge dead tree with a sign saying it was
a “BEE TREE, DO NOT DISTURB.” Trust me I didn’t do anything to bother those bees,
it is a fact that now in the desert, there is a problem with the africanized honey bees.
My policy is, I assume every bee in the desert is one of those aggressive bees and I
give them lots of room.

I also passed a group of children from a daycare center, out in the preserve, maybe for
a nature tour or something, that’s great for them to learn, but watch out when you see
signs like this one which was near them.
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Kind of gives you something to think about, doesn’t it?

Well I continued down the trail a ways. Here are some shots.
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This really is a lovely area.
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Then I came across this monstrosity in Paradise.
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Of course it would be virtually impossible to remove the old car now, I wonder if it was carried down the wash
decades ago in a flash flood.
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A little farther down from here I came across a pool of stagnant water which was just
teeming with life. It looked like their were crawdads in it, the butterflies were flying
around everywhere, lots of little flies buzzing around, birds calling, etc. Here is a video
of this little pool.

One thing I noticed after seeing the signs that said “stay on the trail, ticks” was how
overgrown the trail had become. Many, many times I had to climb under brush or push it
aside, plenty of chances for ticks to climb aboard. Luckily for me, I may have escaped
their clutches, maybe it was too hot for them. Although, they might be hunkered down
and will make their presence known later. One thing Randy told me was he saw two
deer on the trail that morning, deer+ticks=Lyme’s disease so I was concerned.
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Above and below photos show what I was just talking about regarding trail conditions.
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This trail follows a gas pipeline down through the canyon, about four and a half miles,
grown over at times, and sometimes disappears altogether, then it’s wise to just follow
the pipeline signs and markers, and you’ll run into the trail again. Most of the way the
canyon is not that wide, steep bone dry hillsides looking down on a narrow green band,
sometimes like a grassy meadow, others wildly overgrown, where water nears the
surface. I looked in vain for the rushing water I saw on my previous visit, I guess it dried
up in the summer inferno that exists here on a daily basis in the summer.

My understanding of the canyon geology is that the underground aquifer running down from the mountains hits lifted up rock formations forcing the water to the surface, forming
this oasis in the desert.

Folks I took about 30 pictures and filmed 21 videos with my Canon digicam. When my memory card filled up at mile marker 3.5 I went to my cell phone and took a few more
photos and made some voice recordings. It was a very interesting hike. I made a comment
on one of the videos that I had plenty of spring in my steps, my legs and feet felt good-
then about a mile and a half later, I could barely walk.

After around mile 2 or so + or –, the trail turns into a wash in a lot of places. Boy, when it rains in this area, there must be some real water rushing down through here. Those areas with all the rocks and sand, etc are what caused my legs and feet to start giving out, heck
today I can barely walk. But I wouldn’t take anything back, except for the rifle bullet flying
past my head at the end of the hike yesterday. Not a thing.

There was a moment yesterday, when it was truly sublime, that’s the only way to describe it. My location was around mile 2 or so, it had really heated up to around 100 degrees
with no wind and then I walked up to this wonderful shade tree in the canyon, the cooling wind whistled up, I had some of my few remaining ounces of water, at this moment, I could
have died then and felt like I couldn’t find a better place to do it….
 bigmorongocanyonhike 035

After resting a few minutes I moved on, continuing down the grade through the canyon.
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Looking straight ahead at the the area down there where the canyon walls appear to come together, you can see Mt San Jacinto rising up in the distance, a sight which gave me
heart to continue on, as by now I was becoming a little hobbled.

Here are some observations. The preserve is in need of brush clearing along the trail in
many, many places. I made a video where I showed how much dry plant material was
near ground level, one lightning strike at the right location and this canyon will become
an inferno. Make a call for volunteers, I am available on wednesdays and thursdays,hint

As usual, the Morongobill ventured out without any planning, on the fly so to speak, and being cheap, saving money, took too little water, and only averted catastrophe by making
the decision to hike all the way down and hitch-hike back. Luckily I got picked up right away
as I had too little water, energy, or strength left to walk up the Morongo grade on Hwy #62
or to turn around and retrace my steps back up the canyon trail.

But this was just a fantastic experience overall. As a matter of fact, next time I do it, I’ll time
my arrival for the opening of the preserve and beat a lot of the heat. Some people told me
you shouldn’t hike in the desert alone, but no one I know has the days off that I have, and
no one else I know has the interest. So I am on my own.

Yesterday, I was alone, but I never felt alone. I am looking forward to my next visit here or
to some other destination. I will be putting up a followup page with links to my videos, it’ll
probably be a few at a time, as I don’t want to take advantage of the business that has offered me use of their wifi for  posting here.

Folks, if you get a chance, go check out the preserve, here is a link for more information.


P.s. I would also like to think the other Randy I met who gave me a ride all the way up the hill and dropped me off right at my car! Thank you sir!

A late note. I am having real trouble coordinating blogger with live writer and am unsure if this is even going out on the net.

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