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Should I stay or should I go?

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If you are looking for a challenging yet serene hike without traveling far from the heart of Palm Desert, the Hop-a-Long Cassidy trail, at the south end is your best bet.  It is a peaceful stretch with grueling switchbacks and daunting ledges which lies between the Art Smith trail and the infamous Cross trail (near Stone Eagle Golf course).  This trail is, by no means, for the faint of heart and it absolutely warrants you bringing plenty of water especially on warmer days.  Far too many rescues have taken place on ill-prepared travelers of this trail.  Every time I hike this, I shake my head in disbelief to recall the few times I traversed this beast on my mountain bike.   i’ll equate it to either being horribly foolish or dangerously self-confident!   This is one I never have to ride again.

My most recent solo hike (not recommended, by the way) had me questioning my own sanity.  After traveling up and over the first few sets of switchbacks and along the steep, narrow ledges, I began dropping into the canyon paving the way to the final set of killer switchbacks.  I spotted a herd of bighorn sheep ahead and I stopped to watch them for a few minutes.   They had positioned themselves across the trail I needed to travel.  I began to consider turning back and returning via the Art Smith trail where I had begun.  i waited a bit longer and decided making noise may scare them off and send them scattering.  Nope.  My noise only made them curious.  They were now staring up at me.   I picked up some large rocks and launched them, sending them skipping down the mountain, close enough to hopefully scare them but far enough not to threaten their safety.  No luck.  They continued to stare.

I scratched my head.  It was a fairly warm day and I knew turning back would be just as grueling as traversing the switchbacks and heading out.  I made several more attempts to scare the sheep off of the trail but they weren’t having any part of it.  So I did what any rational hiker would do and began moving toward the herd.   Now mind you, if they were to charge, I would have no where to go and there’s not a chance ANYBODY would be able to hear my screams for help.  I was too deep into this.  As I got to the turn in the trail, I made an about-face and turned back toward my starting point.   This was going to have to wait for another time.    Just then I heard a rumbling.  Something had spooked the sheep and they scattered from the trail.   I watched with a steady eye as they made there way up the steep canyon wall and then I made my move and began jogging down the trail and across he stretch they had previously occupied.  I didn’t stop running until I reached the sandy wash and knew I was a good distance from the sheep.

And, by the way, YES!  I am afraid of bighorn sheep as I have been chased by a ram on more than one occassion. . . .and I have witnesses.   But that’s a story for another time.

For more information on the Hop-a-long trail and for safe hiking tips in the desert, click for the links.   Be safe and be smart!

 

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This Magical Desert

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Take a quick look at my instagram or my facebook page and there is NO question that I LOVE this desert and all the adventure and exploring it has to offer.

I often think back to the days when I had first moved here to the Palm Springs area from my lifelong hometown near Detroit, Michigan.  We had just survived another humid summer dodging mosquitos the size of hummingbirds and watching the rainstorms all weekend long give way to bright and sunny Monday mornings.  You could almost count on it every week.   But here I was, driving down Highway 111 staring up with the sun in my eyes at these mountains wondering how long it would take somebody to walk to the top of each ridge.  I remember thinking how I couldn’t wait to meet somebody who might be willing to get up there with me and show me the way.

In all honesty, I still look up at the mountains with that same yearning.   At almost any given time, I’d prefer to be making my way up the mountain simply to enjoy the peacefulness and the view.   I just feel as though I truly come alive on the trails.

Over the next several weeks my plan is to share some of my adventures with you.  Funny, and sometimes frightening, stories from the trails along with some of my favorite views.  Check back soon.  I’ll be back with some good dirt. 😉