Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Martinez Canyon, Santa Rosa Mountains: Atop the South Bluff

Many of life's adventures are measured in years: marriage, parenthood, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, a Jr. High School dance.  Some adventures take weeks or months but, for me, these days my adventures are measured in hours.  I just never have enough time to really go exploring in the manner I'd like to.  Of course, it could be worse.  It's Monday and everyone else I know is working or going to school.  I should be grateful for the few hours I have to be outside on a perfect winter day.

I head up Martinez Canyon for the 3rd time this year.  This really is my new favorite place.  There is so much to explore and since I only have a few hours at a time to get up here it could take years to exhaust all the places left to discover.

I brought a pair of hiking poles with me this time because they will really help in the rocky terrain and they also make it much easier to topple the unnecessary route markers that someone put up. 

In the center of this picture is a big bluff that caught my attention the last couple times I came down this canyon.  Today, this is my destination.  I want to see if perhaps there is a trail on top of it. 

I am in luck.  Not only is there a trail leading up to the top of the bluff but it's like an interstate highway as far as Indian trails go.  I am getting really excited. 

And then I got to the top.  The trail just seemed to vanish.  I hunt around for it but just don't seem to be able to find out where it headed.  I don't have much time to stay around and look so I just start traveling cross country.  In doing so hopefully I'll find some evidence of previous habitation.

Although this is not really what I was hoping for.

How is it that these things always seem to find me?  Just once I'd like to go on a hike where I don't get scratched, poked or shish kabobed. The odd thing is that one of my hiking poles flicked this thing up into my leg.  Murphy's Law. 

This is truly amazing.  It looks to me like it's the fossil of a breaching Humpback Whale.

I don't really stumble upon the trail again--I'm sure it's up here somewhere--and I wonder if I'd have just done better to follow the canyon up.

I guess I just had to go a bit farther.  There a pretty significant grinding area near the back of the plateau and more.

This mortar is a good six inches deep.

And oddly, it seems like coyotes used it as a toilet.  Scraping the scat out of the mortar I discover it has some palm seeds in it.  That is a very positive sign.  There have to be palms somewhere up here.  And that means water.

More grinding areas

And more.

With these grinding areas at the top of the bluff there has to be a food source somewhere near by.  I look and see significant greenery on the hillside and suspect there may be a spring.  But I've run out of time and have to start back. 

I look farther up the canyon and can only wonder what's to be found up there.  My missing trail, perhaps?

On my way back I decide to take the wash to the east of the plateau.  It's clear of vegetation and looks like it'll be pretty easy going.

And except for a few rocky sections it is.  Of course, following my little adventure boulder hopping in Joshua Tree, this is a breeze.

I get back to the Jeep with time to spare.  I actually got down about thirty minutes quicker than I imagined I would.  I'll have to remember that for next time.  And,  for me, next time can't come soon enough.  


  1. Hal

    I do enjoy you trips very much.Is there any place to car/truck camp at the trail head?

  2. You could certainly camp at the trailhead but it would be very primitive camping with no facilities at all. There are areas near the trailhead where you could set up a tent or you could sleep in a truck at the parking area. It is a very good idea to have a 4WD, however. It's pretty sandy getting out there.