A ”Wild” Hike

To Car Wreck Canyon and Back Again

Spring Blooms in December!

We start in the wash below Pushawalla Ridge and find it alive with colorful wildflowers blooming.

Below spindly Spanish Needle buds start to pop open in a natural arrangement of rocks, creosote, and primrose leaves… priceless!

Sandpaper Bush so aptly named for its unmistakable rough texture…

The fragrance tells all! Desert Lavender blooms pale but it’s smell vibrantly bursts out loud…

Lavendar and Desert Trumpet strike a beautiful pose.

This Desert Trumpet shows off from head to toe… tiny yellow flowers, skinny green stems, thicker red spines, swells of carbon dioxide, and a bouquet of lacy leaves.

Glancing up, I capture this surreal view of a dead palm and some desert mistletoe against a winter sky.

Purple Phacelia brighten the day.

Desert daisies rock!

But wait, there’s more!

Curly pods of Cat’s Claw…

Surrounded by the Indio Hills, the valley is awash with wildflowers.

The trail leads us up and out of the wash and onto a plateau.

Yellow creosote flowers fade into white fuzzy pom-poms.

We follow the trail signs and head down, in a  counter-clockwise loop, to  Pushawalla Palms and “Car-Wreck Canyon.”

Water still trickles through the grove of palms. But here’s where it gets interesting… Notice how the clear runoff suddenly turns orange.

Nestled in its own private canyon, Pushawalla Palms is off the beaten path.

We even encounter a dead coyote.

As we leave the palm groves a bright green bush with yellow flowers captures my attention.

I quickly identify this shrub as creosote with its yellow flowers. However, upon closer inspection, Jeff points out the pine tree-like leaves. Later we learn that, indeed, this is not a creosote bush but a Pygmy Cedar.

And here’s the old rusted car…

Someday we’ll follow the canyon instead of taking the loop.

As we climb back up onto the plateau a new flower greets us.

Usually the desert wildflowers don’t start blooming until March. What a fantastic time to be in the Southern California desert!

Through the Wash and Over the Ridge

To Hidden Palms We Go… (first)

The trail that crosses Pushawalla Ridge is quite scenic, especially once you start heading down into the canyon where the hidden palm grove thrives. Flowers are starting to bloom everywhere! Jeff and I keep discovering new ones to identify and old favorites to recall…

Phacelia

Standing tall amongst cryptantha, or popcorn flower, phacelia bursts into purple.

LAVENDER

Don’t let the pale flowers fool you. Just crush a few in your hand and smell the fragrant essence of calmness.

We descend into the grove of hidden palms aka washingtonia filifera aka California fan palms. The “skirts” are a giveaway.

We follow the wash out of  Hidden Palms and pick up the Horseshoe Palms Trail that meanders through another wash and around this linear grove of palm trees.

Pygmy cedar

What? A fir-tree like bush in the desert? Is it some kind of pine tree with yellow flowers? The pygmy cedar is a member of the aster family. The species form is similar to a creosote bush… small, greenish, and hemispherical with yellow flowers in the spring. (calscape.org)

Indigo

This thorny wisp of a bush splattered with deep purple flowers gives off an ethereal vibe.

Primrose

This brown-eyed primrose is blooming along with cryptantha and possibly pincushion or desert dandelion. We’ll talk later…

The grove of Horsheshoe Palms is tucked along the south side of Pushawalla Ridge.

As we meander through the wash I turn around and take this picture of a flowering indigo bush with Mt. San Jacinto in the background.

When you crush the deep purple petals they smell like, as Harlan says, basil on steroids.

Looking down, we notice ants carrying small bits of petals to their ant hill. Maybe they like the smell too!

Desert sunflower

A single stem stands tall with one radiant flower unfolded and the promise of more to come. Bright pink verbenas hug the sand.

Desert star

This low growing mat-like plant usually blooms in the spring.

We arrive at the palm log fence overlooking Pushawalla Palms.

Pushawalla Palms lead up and out of Car Wreck Canyon that loops onto a plateau on the north side of Pushawalla Ridge. Or, you can stay in the wash and continue hiking into Pushawalla Canyon where it dead ends.

But we are not hiking down into Pushawalla Palms today anyway. We head toward the Ridge instead, which still requires an uphill hike.

Desert holly

This blooming plant greets us along the way up to the plateau where we connect with Pushawalla Ridge. Did you know there are male and female holly plants? The female has reddish buds that pop out berries. The male plant, well, if you crush the blooms in your hand, they turn into a grainy dust.

We head back on the Pushawalla Ridge.

Mt. San Jacinto smiles down on us.

Can you tell we really love it here?

Pushawalla Trail

Across the Street…

We cross Thousand Palms Canyon Road and head to the Pushawalla ridge.

At the top we look over at Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve. Squaw Hill is in the left foreground and evidence of the San Andreas Fault is marked by the notable greenery on the right and the more barren land on the left. Also note the hills pushing upward on the left, separating the Mission Creek Strand of the fault line from the Banning Strand.

We head east along the top of the ridge.

A barrel cactus stands alone in front of the Little San Bernardino Mountains of Joshua Tree National Park.

The Hidden Palms reveal themselves from above.

After a mile or so we descend from Pushawalla ridge and follow the trail to Pushawalla Palms. Circled below is a white “mark” on the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. This is the location of Keyes View from Joshua Tree National Park.

The southwest side of Keyes View ridge drops nearly a mile in elevation into the Coachella Valley. The San Andreas Fault, stretching 700 miles from the Gulf of California to the Mendocino Coast north of San Francisco runs through the valley and can be seen below. (nps.org)

Yes, Keyes View looks down upon us, Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve. It is so much fun to point out that white spot on the ridge from our parking lot. Sometimes we tell visitors to give us a call when they arrive there so that we can come out and wave to them!

The trail circles around a plateau heading toward Pushawalla Palms.

And then… Seriously… this is the “trail”?

We scramble down the rocks and into a canyon and find the old rusted Model T car wreck.

The canyon leading to or out of Pushawalla Palms is commonly called Car Wreck Canyon. No one knows the story of how the automobile got there and if, indeed, it is a Model T.

We pass the car wreck and continue along a wash toward Pushawalla Palms.

We pass through the palm grove and ascend along a rise, before heading down again into a canyon wash.

Water is still trickling off the Little San Bernardino Mountains from the October 13th flash flood.

Below is a great picture of the palm tree roots. Notice how the straw-like tendrils reach toward the water source.

We pass a trail sign for Horseshoe Palms and continue walking through the canyon, looking for a sign directing us back to Pushawalla ridge.

But that doesn’t happen.

So, we retrace our steps and head back to the sign for Horseshoe Palms.

The palm fruit hanging from the fronds of the palm tree below, looks like a pair of earrings to me.

Once again we scramble rocks to climb out of the canyon and find the trail that takes us back toward the ridge of Pushawalla.

Instead of returning along the ridge, we opt for the lower trail along the wash. Unfortunately, we take a false trail and yet again scramble down more rocks where we find a couple of hikers breezing by on the real trail.

Fortunately, we hook up with the proper wash trail as we head back to the Preserve and I capture close-ups of barrel cactus.

Next time we hit this trail, Jeff and I will start in the wash and return on the ridge, just to find out where the actual wash trail begins!