“In the first place you can’t see anything from a car; you’ve got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the…cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you’ll see something, maybe” – Edward Abbey
The desert is not a place I immediately fell in love with. Being born and raised on the East Coast I’ve always felt uncomfortable in such dry, arid conditions. I like trees to bash into, water to drink and humidity that I can suck out of the air not cactus, thorns and the omnipresent specter of impending dehydration! But on an early spring day like this past weekend when the temperatures are not extreme enough to fry eggs on the rocks and the prospect of wildflowers in bloom is in the air, the desert begins to make sense to me. It made enough sense for me to saddle up my trusty water carrying Fargo and head out to one of my favorite spots in the high desert: Palm Canyon.
Palm Canyon begins around the 4000 ft mark on the shoulders of Santa Rosa Mt and drains a huge area of scrub and mountainside down into the low desert near Palm Springs. I generally avoid the lowest portions of this ride and head up toward the summit of Santa Rosa, but since the snow can still be deep up there at this time of year I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather that was in the forecast and head down-canyon to ride some new trails. Once within the bowels of the desert I looped back on a dirt road that I had seen on the map but never ridden. Yes, I’m always scouting for ever longer routes to ride, and I think that I’ve found a great new loop.
Well, most of the trails were new to me. Last winter I had decided to ride up from Palm Springs on my way to Anza Borrego and found some of the trail to be rather, ummm “inhospitable”. It seems that most of the trail traffic runs down the canyon (it’s a popular shuttle ride for the more gravity challenged of the biking world) and the trails are brushed in a direction that makes them more akin to a medieval torture device than a fun bike ride.
Yes, the desert jealously guards its secrets. But if you continue to push forward you begin to see… or maybe you just find yourself dehydrated and anemic the next day. Anyway, here’s a barrage of images earned during a great day in the desert. I spent a total of 8 hours out there and did not see another soul the entire time which is special in a state as crowded as California can be. In fact, some of the trails showed no recent signs or tracks of human activity only coyotes, cattle and bobcat. I think the photos sum up my day perfectly.