Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sheep Canyon Trail

 I live in the most amazing place.  Literally within minutes I can leave my house and get into the wilderness, a completely different world.  I drive past country clubs, farms and ranches to get to places where people once lived on nothing but what they could hunt or gather. Most modern men could not survive out there for but a few days but the Cahuilla Indians lived here for generations.  To many people, the desert is a lifeless wasteland, full of nothing but venomous creatures that sting, bite or kill and evil plants that inflict a multitude of lacerations.  Sometimes it's those things to me but more often it's a place of wonder, inspiration and tranquility.  There is no better place on earth.

I head out to Sheep Canyon to do a little exploring.  I only have a few hours and I think I really need a few months to fully explore this whole area.

There's plenty of water flowing in the canyon.  And people say this is a desert.

On the left of the canyon is a campsite that I'm sure was used by the Indians as well as more recent visitors.

This is one of the more interesting spots I know of in these mountains.  The rocks here are like concrete. I'm sure there are other sections like this but this is the only one that I've personally found.

I really like this rock and the shade it provides.  I wonder what it would take to get it moved to my yard?

The shaded area made for a very good kitchen. A few of many bedrock mortars on this slab.

The geology of this canyon is fascinating.

There are many layers and different types of rock.

And, as I said, water is plentiful.

I get to a place where I am actually able to leave the canyon so I opt to explore above.

Beavertail cactus blooms

Click to enlarge

I get to a nice flat spot above the canyon, an area that seems like it would make a terrific campsite but find nothing of interest.

A little more exploring leads me to what seems to be a trail.

It is a trail and a pretty good one at that.

It leads to another nice little flat area and this rock circle. 

The trail then leads uphill.

I prefer the travel up here to what's below.  It looks like the canyon gets a little more chocked with brush.  When I come back I'm going to have to wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt.  Gloves would probably be advisable, too.

The trail leads up to some expansive views of the Coachella Valley and the Salton Sea.

It traverses around this little hill but I'm out of time and need to get back.  But even a couple hours of adventure does wonders to restore one's soul.

This is a recurring theme on many of my hikes lately.  Restoring one's soul can sometimes take a toll upon one's body.

I take a different route down and come upon some more evidence of those who lived here long ago.

Yet another mortar.

I look to see if I can go down this canyon but it looks nasty.  Loose dirt, steep dropoffs and more plants that poke.  I'll try another route.

This one is not much better.  It is one of the worst hillsides I've traversed in, well, a couple weeks.  In the canyon bottom, you can see that white concrete-like slab.

After precariously downclimbing yet another hillside of crap I get to some flat, albeit rocky, ground.  All I have to do is walk directly to that little hill in the upper left of the picture.  That's where my Jeep is parked. It looks like a straight easy shot.

Of course, nothing out here is easy.  It's just a little hundred foot deep sheer canyon in the way.  Piece of cake.  If traveling out here in the desert were easy, everyone would be doing it but then instead of hours of solitude in a breathtakingly beautiful setting I'd be assaulted with crowds and noise.  No thanks.  I like it just the way it is.

1 comment:

  1. I visited this canyon years ago (1996?) and had lunch under that rock, perhaps my orange peels are still there?

    I recently tried to get back to where we parked years ago which was basically all the way back there at the base of the hills, practically at the mouth of the canyon. To my dismay, all roads that are not gated off have been bulldozed and blocked with piles of rocks and dirt.