Tuesday, February 11, 2020

In My Back Yard

Civilization ends not far from my home where the mountains and canyons collectively take over from putting greens and turquoise pools. There are a cluster of canyons, long revered in Indian culture and lore, that stretch for miles and miles for as far as the Raven flies. Long ago, the land twisted itself up into mountains, canyons, washes and arroyos. It provided the perfect pallet from which to paint my series of books centered in and around Palm Springs.

Tahquitz Canyon inspired my third novel (Tahquitz Dawn) in the ‘Debris’ trilogy. There’s a century old legend about an evil Indian spirit lurking back in the canyon. That was enough to form the central plot of my story. This land can do that to an over-active imagination.

Skirting the mountains is a wash long favored by riders from the nearby Smoke Tree Stables. The wash is one big playground for hikers, riders, runners, mountain bikers and mountain goats. Add in the seasonal rattlesnakes, lizards, and unnamed rodents; and it’s a menagerie not to be missed.

The South Course of the Indian Canyon Golf Resort skirts the wash and hugs the foothills of these mountains.

The Henderson Trail runs parallel to the wash and leads up to the Shannon Trail, which in turn, climbs up the mountain and connects with the Garstin Trail on top.

For most of each year, the wash is quiet and serene; a great place to get lost inside your head. There’s usually a small muddy creek meandering by. The scrub brush is in full bloom in spring and nesting birds flit about endlessly. The stillness there can be deafening with only a few fleeting sounds floating by. All is peaceful until once or twice a year when the rains come and wash that complacency away with astounding fury and force in just a matter of moments.

Then after the rains, new trails have to be forged on a totally altered landscape. Aside from the occasional washout, the mountain trails remain the same.

Smoke Tree Stables has been in operation since the early '40s. Hollywood actors and celebrities used to play cowboy in the nearby canyons and mountain trails. It’s still a popular mecca today for tourists and local cowboys alike. We took the family there the last time they were in town.

Horse trails become mountain bike meccas. Hikers wander the wash, meandering back and forth as the rutted grounds give way to dry beds. Arroyos cut in the corners and debris lies crumpled up in distorted jumbled piles randomly deposited everywhere.

Fortunately for me, the wash isn’t the only place I’ve found tranquility and peace in this part of my world. As a fellow hiker commented the other day. “It really is one of the best playground for adults in the world.” I’ve also found a host of other newly discovered venues to get lost in around the Coachella Valley.

They are all magnificent escapes just steps away from my home. Places to meet and greet and at the same time go solitary if I want to. Its heaven’s confessional where I reveal my earthly sins; the good ones, the bad ones and the fun times in-between.

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