Thursday, February 18, 2016

New desert monuments created

Just wanted to send out a public thank you to President Obama and Senator Feinstein
for the creation of these 3 new national monuments. I am not going to rehash the details
which are readily available all over the net, nor the history that led to this executive

I prefer to talk about the one that appeals to me the most, the Castle Mountains one.

This will be the first on my visit list. Access can be made one of two ways via dirt roads, unless
you prefer to just hike cross country. You can either come in via Walking Box Road on the Nevada
side of the border or from Hart Mine Road on the California side.

From a reading of the drycyclist’s trip reports, my understanding is that there might be some issues
with the dirt roads coming in once you venture off from Walking Box Road. So the odds are good
that I might decide to come in instead from Hart Mine Road. Either way, once you get to parking areas,
there is still probably at least a 3 mile hike one way to get to the individual monoliths.

That is my goal, to actually hike among those monoliths.

I can’t wait. I have asked for Monday through Friday off, the first week of March. February 29 Monday
through that Friday. Now that is plenty of time to get up there and do that hike, which will be a solo one.

Solo that is unless someone would like to join me. I will be staying at either the Goldstrike in Jean
or one of the hotel casinos in Primm at the state line. Since my girlfriend may be coming we most
likely will be at Primm, her preference. She does not hike btw.

If any of my readers would like to join me, please comment below with your email and I will get back
to you.

William McDonald

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sand skiing near Palm Springs

Sans skis of course.

When I was coming down that impossibly steep and sandy slope Tuesday using my trekking poles, it occurred to me that I should try my hand at skiing down. In my naivete, I thought that I was the first to come up with such an outlandish idea, wrong! But it was sure fun regardless of whether I was the first or not.

This post is about the repeat hike that I made from the week before, this time with pictures and videos. Scratch the embedded video part as the new Open Live Writer has a problem with Youtube and Vimeo embeds. But I will put my Youtube Channel link in for you to head over and check them out if you wish. Also feel free to leave a comment and like or not like the video as you wish.

By the way, I have asked for assistance from the Blogger Help community with the video issue and hope that it can be resolved.

Some of you know that I have made several hikes out by the windmill area of Palm Springs over the years, mainly trying to hike up the ridgeline. Most of these hikes were made when I was, no other way to put it, huge.
Yours truly before my weightloss out in the socal desert.

Since I began my weightloss and avoiding diabetes regimen, I have went back to the area and hiked again. These last two hikes were very enjoyable, despite discovering that the recent rains in the area made the trail on the ridgeline disappear and the soil surface less stable. I can only imagine the damage done to the nearby Pacific Crest Trail as well.

First, here is the location and directions to the area if you are looking for a challenging and fun hike. Also see the screenshot and check out the link to my Viewranger hike info.

Using Interstate 10, you can exit at either Field Road or Haugen-Lehman Road, but it is closer to just get off at HL which is the last exit before the Hwy 111 turnoff to Palm Springs. Go right if you arrive from the west, left if from the east. You will just drive and park off the frontage road(on the Mt San Jacinto side)at the very first large highway billboard. It is okay to park there just don’t park next to the sign in case the workers need access to it. I always put a note on my car that I am hiking in the area with my name and cell number just in case a law enforcement officer decides to stop and check on the situation. Yes, I have been called by the Highway Patrol while hiking!

After parking, cross over the two railroad tracks to the dirt road on the other side and go left, following the road across the wash to the ridgeline. Or you can go crosscountry heading toward the end windmill up next to the mountainside and the road that heads up the switchback toward the left side of that ridge. Trust me, you can’t get lost and do not trespass onto the windmill property as they have an electric fence and security patrolling.
Park to the left as the sign is on the right side. Be very careful, watch for trains and watch your footing on that gravel. You could also follow the tracks going left as the downslope lessens that way on the other side of the tracks. The dirt road is very close on the opposite side of the tracks, follow it across the wash to the ridge and then head toward the mountain until you get to the switchback road against the mountain.

If you do choose to head crosscountry watch out for gopher holes which can cause a sprained ankle. The good news is your cell works here even up on the mountain ridge. Just follow the windmills! This is an interesting hike with photo opportunities around and check out the animal tracks in the wash. The recent rains have scoured the wash pretty good as well as that switchback road up the ridge. Do not try to drive even your tricked out Jeep up that road. I will post photos of the heavy damage that the road took recently. Remember, you have been warned not to drive up the road.
The view once you get to the switchback road. It looks good even for cars here but don’t do it. Here is why.
Up at the top of the picture is where only a dirt bike will be able to continue. Even Big Foot couldn’t go any farther!

No place to turn around, don’t you wish you had listened when Morongobill said don’t drive up?
The view after you get around the baddest spot and right before you top out onto the plateau.
The view from the plateau looking toward the way you came, note that dirt road crossing the ridge, you will hike right to left across it later if you follow this hike as outlined here.
After your little rest break, you will head up this Jeep trail. Be careful.
You were down there. See what I mean about having to be careful?
Now the fun really begins. Don’t put your skis on just yet however. You are about to go 500+ feet straight down the mountainside!
You also have the option of going toward the mountain and up the ridgeline. I found out though that the rains had made the trail almost impossible to follow and the soil felt unstable so I didn’t follow it this time as I did the week before. Instead I followed the road down the mountain.
The view further down where the dirt road becomes deep and soft sand. This time I chose to leave the road and walk on the left side of the road, right down the steep mountainside. Come on, if a formerly huge 61 year year old can do it, so can you! Just be careful!
Looking back uphill.
View once you get to the sandy part. It gets even steeper further downhill. At this point I got off the
road onto the left side and started going downhill. Remember if you don’t have trekking poles or a
sturdy hiking staff to plant your feet sideways to help slow your descent. Do the same on this sandy
road if you stay on it. It is a long way to the bottom, especially if you start rolling downhill!
View to the right.

My battery died filming video with this camera so from now on all photos were made using my cell and will have handshake issues  and lack the sharpness of the ones so far.

Let’s talk about the safe way to descend from the ridge on this very sandy surface. If you do not have a hiking staff or trekking poles along, I suggest that you go downhill placing your feet sideways,planting your feet carefully each time. Be careful as the sand could actually stop one or both feet in mid-fall which could result in a sprained ankle or worse. If you have the gear, you
should be able to work in a more normal manner, again being vigilant. Note, this applies whether you stay on or get off the road here. If you venture off the road, remember to aim for natural breaks such as creosote bush clumps which will stop you if you start rolling downhill! Now let’s get to the pics where you could start sand skiing! Technically I guess I really wasn’t skiing without the skis and only used my hiking shoes, but I was skiing none the less and it was a real hoot! I never felt like I was in any danger and never felt out of control.
I don’t know who or what made those tracks but it appears that they were going uphill.
This is the steep part that I mentioned earlier.
Looking uphill, those tracks appear to have been made by an animal of some sort.
Here I chickened out and quit skiing and started the sideways thing with my feet.
Almost at the bottom.

Once you reach the bottom then you turn left on the dirt road and start following it along the backside of the ridge you were just hiking and skiing on. It is easy and there is no chance of getting lost. After about a third of a mile you will come to some rocks where you can sit down and take a well deserved rest break as I am doing in this photo.

I continued further along the dirt road and came to a point where I could either go cross-country to go around the very lowest point of the ridge and from there cross the wash to make my way back to the car or I could go left and cross the ridge very dirt road as pointed out earlier, the road you could see down the ridgeline in the photo from the plateau.
To the left is the ridge and at the top is the plateau mentioned earlier. Let me add that once I tried going straight down this ridge in the photo and lost control and by a miracle caught ahold of a dead juniper tree limb as I went by, it didn’t break off, and my descent came to a screeching halt, enabling me to resume a controlled pace down the steep and rocky terrain without any injury whatsoever.
The view from the saddle of the dirt road both ways.
The Morongomobile is parked straight ahead to the right of the sign. From this point, I just headed cross-country toward the sign. Piece of cake after what I and hopefully you will have gone through to get to this point.
The Morongomobile right where I parked it. The billboard is out of the photo, stage left!

This completes the hike. I certainly hope that you try it and the sand skiing part, even if only with your hiking shoes on. My strong advice is that you carry trekking poles or a hiking staff if you go off that dirt road downhill. The trekking poles would be ideal. Skis are optionalOpen-mouthed smile

Here is the screenshot from my Viewranger page. The link is below also. To see the maps, choose from the many options. The options also include the topo which I used here. Note the elevation loss and gain and where 500 feet of that loss came from. Hint: where you need the skis.

My Youtube Channel:

Morongobill's Youtube Channel

I did put up one video which you can view here at this link:

Plus two others going down the slope from a week earlier:

Hope to see you out on the trail. Email me if you are in the area, I am off Tuesday and Wednesday. Let’s go hiking!

Morongobill aka William C McDonald