The Moon Country Trail is an extension of the McCallum Trail. It’s been a month since the October flash flood so Jeff and I decide to take the 4+ mile hike out and back to observe the water damage and examine the work of our repair efforts.
We head northwest from the Palm House Visitor Center along the boardwalk. White threads spread across the surface of the natural spring. These wisps are the tips of the palm roots.
The salt grass lays across the oasis channel, crushed by the weight of streaming water.
The new boardwalk hovers over the mud. An 80- foot section was built between 2 original sections. Now the boardwalk continues throughout the wetlands of the riparian forest.
The San Andreas Fault is so evident as we leave the palm grove and step out into the Colorado Desert. The hills inch up every year and the green arrowweed, creosote, cheese weed, and indigo thrive in abundance with a water source below. We are walking along the Mission Creek Strand of the Fault.
A plank guides hikers across a newly formed rivulet. To the left is the driveway to Chimney Ranch where the Powell family still owns homesteading property and living quarters. To the right, a boundary of rocks lines the trail to Simone Pond.
Beyond the line of rocks, notice the Little San Bernardino Mountains, the source of the flash flooding that wiped out most of the vegetation in the wash.
In the distance is an RV where David and Athena are staying. They are Preserve Hosts too, returning for their second winter.
David and Athena live about 3/4 mile west of the Palm House Visitor Center. The tree stumps are from cut-down Tamarisks, an invasive tree that sucks up precious water.
Tamarisk logs line the trail of the washed-out wash. Before drying out, the wash was a lake!
A phainopepla rests on a mesquite bush near the mound of red-orange desert mistletoe.
A creosote, confused that it’s springtime, starts blooming with its yellow flowers.
Meanwhile, the alkali goldenbush’s flowers fluff into seeds.
Desert holly… Jeff and I identify as many plants as we can.
On our hike through Moon Country, we stop and head to Vista Point.
Below is McCallum Grove shadowed by the Little San Bernardino Mountains.
And that’s the parking lot for Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve circled below.
We descend Vista Point and continue west along the ridge of the Moon Country Trail. The peak of San Gorgonio Mountain guides us.
As we descend the ridge we see the switchbacks of the Herman’s Hike Trail. And there’s a trail sign.
We know Moon Country is a loop so we continue west as the trail sign indicates.
After awhile, we realize we should have headed back when we came down the ridge. The sign should have read Moon Country Canyon instead. So, no problem… our goal now is to find the end of the box canyon.
With every turn, we think we are at the end only to find out we are wrong. The canyon hills are beautiful and entice us to continue.
Finally, we reach the end and turn around. I guess our 4-mile hike is becoming a 5+-mile hike.
As we connect with the McCallum Trail again, we loop around to the “jack rabbit house”. This pink building is an example of the minimum structure required to be built on homesteaded land.
Also, from this return loop from Moon Country, you get a good view to the entrance to Chimney Ranch, private property owned by the Powell family.
A Cottonwood Tree log…
And we’re back at Palm House. The fronds below blew down from yesterday’s wind storm.