Opening Day: Desert Season

Desert Season. That’s my informal label for the months of the year we ride certain areas & trail systems. In the summer, when most southern Californians seek shelter by the way of air conditioning, we ride in the cedars & pines. Come Fall, when the leaves come down & we light the fireplace, we tend to ride in lower climes; in the chaparral & the desert. I’ve come to prefer this over living in a more temperate climate (San Diego comes to mind) because we get to visit different, fresh, destinations year round.

Here’s the scoop: Mt San Jacinto (our home) is ranked 17th in the list of Ultra-Prominent mountain peaks in the United States. This prominence at least partially explains our stellar riding diversity, with an elevation range of -100ft to about 8,000ft, all within a 1 hour driving radius. And truth be told, we’ve been to all those places sans car too. Yeah, it’s great. Don’t tell anyone.

Indian Summer come & gone, we made the call to check out the desert. It’s been 6-7 months.
We headed to Pinyon (30 minute drive) to start the Palm Canyon trail.
The sky was clear, the air cool enough to be described as “chilly.” It’s been a long time since we’ve welcomed the warming effects of our friend the Sun, rather than hiding from it. It was nice to be on good terms again.


I made a last minute decision to leave the camera in the car. I broke the point-and-shoot on a ride and have since felt nervous about hauling the SLR along on singletrack. It was a perfect day for picture taking, maybe I should’ve rolled the dice.
Thanks to Nick for providing pics. All except the above shot of the aforementioned, very dapper, Nick.

We left the Pinyon trailhead around 7am, with low morning sun casting long shadows on the Cactus, Pinyons, Ribbonwood, and Octotillos.

The trail condition was fast & firm, thanks to the steady rains we’ve had lately. The small wash at Lunch Rock had flowing water. The many palm oases we saw on the way down looked very healthy.

We cruised down canyon with the greatest of ease, as the horizon expanded in front of us.

From a purely technical perspective, the desert offers a change of pace. Logs give way to rocks. Trees give way to cactus. I pondered a hike to a place called Mad Woman Spring.


The lower we dropped, the chunkier the trail became. I decided to ride fast & take chances the closer we got to town.

We arrived at our final destination, the Vons in Cathedral City, around noon, on the fast side of our schedule. We relaxed in the cool grass waiting for Nick’s better half to arrive, a bit slap happy & giddy from a great ride.
I’m pondering more desert rides & hikes.

2 thoughts on “Opening Day: Desert Season

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