Thursday, December 30, 2010

Goodbye My Love

In n Out Burger has killed every diet I've ever tried to be on.  I don't know how this one will go but I had to make a run to In n Out just to say goodbye.  I bet people wondered why I was weeping when I got my order.  

A Double Double, Animals Fries and a drink was my last meal.  It'll be a while before we meet again but that doesn't mean I won't be thinking about you.  You'll always be in my heart, or at least my arteries.  I'm gonna miss you.

Love, Hal

Monday, December 27, 2010

Almost Ready

Being a glutton is hard work.  It wears you out.

I've tried to say yes to all second helpings, indulge in whatever desserts are available, have fries with everything.  I'm sick of it.  My clothes are all tight, my gut is protruding and I'm always tired, even when I'm asleep.  I'm ready for this age of overindulgence to end.

Today I was tempted to have a salad but managed to overcome the impulse.  My willpower won't hold out much longer, though.  I'm about to get mean and lean.  Grouchy and fat just doesn't fit me.

I hope you're ready.  I am.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I feel fatter than ever and am so looking forward to a new year of weight loss and hiking.  Enjoy the holiday festivities; I know I will.  

January 1: First weigh in with weekly updates.  All hikes will be updated soon after their completion.  Looking forward to a great year.

Wishing you all the best.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Searching For Something

I figure there has to be a trail from South Palm Desert up to Pinyon Flat.  I just don't know where it is.  I'd heard of a trail up Seven Level Hill (now covered by Highway 74) and this seems feasible but I think there may be something else.  I park at the Art Smith Trailhead and start hiking toward Dead Indian Canyon.  It doesn't take me long until I find some promising.  

I've hiked by this hill a thousand times and never bothered to look at it too closely but hiding behind a bush is what appears to be a trail.

Further up the ridge, the trail becomes even more apparent.  It then comes upon a section where somebody actually bulldozed a road of some sort but I try to stay on the trail as much as possible.

I lose it as the ridge starts to flatten out and go through this potential Cholla minefield.

I come upon a spot where someone did some exploratory digging.

Or maybe they were leveling out a foundation for a cabin.  It certainly offers a nice view.

Not too far from the cabin foundation I find a campsite.

Too bad I didn't bring any hamburgers and hot dogs.

I drop into Grapevine Canyon, which is below the campsite and find something I haven't seen since I got up on the ridge, footprints.  

The Indians would not have used this wash as a way to travel.  They generally traveled outside these places so their trails would not wash out but it's still fun for me to explore so I'll see what I can find.

I find a Palm Tree, which means there is subsurface water here.

There is also a far amount of mesquite.  Another sign of water and something Indians would have been aware of due to it being one of their food staples.  I think I'll just hop out of the wash here and see if I can find sign of a trail.

I don't have any luck finding a trail but I do find another area of digging.  What on earth was someone doing up here?

Whatever they were doing they, they had enough spare to time build this shrine.  I guess they didn't find much worth that was worth anything.

Or maybe they left because they didn't like the Cholla.

Down a little lower I find another dig and this one is the largest I've found.  But why would someone come up here, do all this digging and then leave?

Maybe they ran out of beverages.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Wait?

I've shared with a few friends my plan to hike, run and diet myself back into shape and they've asked me, "Why wait to start until the first of the year?".  It makes sense to start my challenge early because I'm already starting to get out on the trail more and it wouldn't hurt to lose a few pounds--or fifty.

There's one reason I'm not starting now.  My wife.  She makes so many holiday goodies it would be beyond my ability to refrain.  

These bags of peanut brittle are just some of the things she makes during the Christmas season.  There are also cookies, cupcakes, homemade almond roc, fudge, caramel corn and a host of other wonderful treats that the love of my life cooks up in the kitchen.  I don't want to start dieting and then quit so I'm waiting to start until temptation fades.  After Christmas is over she's get out of the holiday mood and I'll be safe.  I hope.

Until then, I'm feasting.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Getting Burned at Willis Palms

Almost everyone I know is a flake.  Saturday morning I was planning to met some people from work and take a hike out to Ladder Canyon.  It's a fun little hike that's very good for beginners.  Everyone I've taken out there is absolutely amazed by the geology and that a place like that exists so nearby.  It's great fun for me to take someone new.  There was only one problem: no one showed up.  No one even called.  Oh well, their loss.

Instead of going to Ladder Canyon, I decided to drive over to the Coachella Valley Preserve and check on a Palm Oasis fire that they had a couple weeks ago.  None of the news reports was very specific about the location of the fire.  I guess none of the reporters are familiar with the area or bothered to ask any questions.  Pretty typical with the Desert Sun.  I was very disappointed by what I found.

Before I got to the Preserve I had hoped it was not one of the major oases that has burned.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.  Eighty percent of the Willis Palms Oasis is now destroyed.

The eastern portion of the palms are still intact and there are some mesquite remaining but everything else it toast.

Little life remains.

Beneath the burnt exterior, though, most of these palms have a chance to recover.

Burnt trees

The Black Rainbow

Will they recover?

As long as the crown of the palm retains life there is a great chance most of these trees will come back.  If you go to a lot of oases around the desert you will find a large percentage have burnt trunks.  The only part of the palm that is actually living is the crown.  As long as it is OK the palm will come back.

There's hope here.  Just a couple weeks after a huge fire destroyed the majority of this significant grove, new life appears from beneath the ashes.  I'll be back to check on the progress of the regrowth here. I just won't count on anyone else showing up when I do.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

West of the Martinez Landslide

Went out to do a bit more exploring in the area of the Martinez Landslide.  This area is very interesting to me for several reasons.  One, it's fairly close to my house, only about a fifteen minute drive.  Two, it's very seldom visited.  While other hiking areas in the desert are like a parade of people, I never see anyone else in this area and seldom even see human footprints.  And lastly, there's an incredible potential for discovery in this area.  The Torrez Martinez Indian Reservation is near here and the Desert Cahuilla have lived in this area for hundreds of years.  I have already found four trails out here and there are sure to be more.  My time is limited to a couple hours so I won't be able to get far but hopefully I'll be able to find something interesting.

I start hiking southeast from my parking area on an old Indian trail that I discovered last year.

It's obvious that people have been here before but this is not the type of discovery that I'm hoping to make.

Ocotillo are blooming and beautiful.

I'm heading up toward this canyon which is west of the Martinez Landslide.

To drop into the canyon which I hope to go up is steep, loose and rocky. I have to be extremely cautious going down this stuff.

I successful negotiate the hillside of death and make it into the canyon.  It's pretty easy going now.

Unlike any of the canyons in more accessible areas this canyon is devoid of any footprints.

There's a section of rock that is calcified so that indicates that water frequently comes through here although none is flowing today.

This is very exciting to me!  It's a mesquite.  That means two things.  One, there's water beneath the surface because mesquite needs a steady supply of water to survive.  Two, it means the Indians probably came here.  Mesquite was a major food source for the Cahuilla.

The canyon is quite chocked with brush and I find a little trail that leaves the canyon and skirts this mess of skin flaying vegetation.

I also find what looks like a sleeping circle on the side of the canyon.  In  a very short time I've discovered  some interesting things that make me want to return when I have more time.

Just as I'm about to turn back I find something else interesting, a date palm.  I had hoped to find a native Palm Oasis but this is a positive sign.  It means there's enough water in the canyon to support a palm and there may be native palms further up the canyon.

On my hike back I see some pottery sherds along the trail.

Another positive sign that I'm in a place with a wealth of fascinating finds yet to be discovered.