Travel Guide

Mountain climbing Alongside the San Andreas Fault in Southern California

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Southern California is filled with wonderful mountaineering alternatives, however maybe few are as attention-grabbing as those who run alongside the San Andreas fault within the Colorado Desert of the Coachella Valley.

One in all my favourite hikes alongside the fault is Pushawalla Palms Loop.

This hike presents completely different and wonderful landscapes that had been fashioned by earthquakes and tectonic plate motion alongside the fault.

Fast Primer on the San Andreas Fault Community

Scientists have discovered that the Earth’s crust is fractured right into a sequence of “plates” which have been shifting very slowly over the Earth’s floor for thousands and thousands of years. Two of those shifting plates, the Pacific Plate and North American Plate meet in western California; the boundary between them is the San Andreas fault. This fault varieties a steady slender break within the Earth’s crust that extends over 1,000 km from northern California southward to the Mexico border. Often, these plates slowly collide, separate and grind previous one another at a fee of about 50 mm per 12 months. Nevertheless someday the plates lock in place till the stress created by the plates overcomes the energy of the rock. At that time, the rocks fracture alongside the fault and seismic waves radiate in all instructions, inflicting the Earth to vibrate and shake. An earthquake happens because the plates transfer ft or tens of ft in simply seconds.

Since this state of affairs has been repeated again and again over 40 million years, it’s simple to grasp that land on both aspect of the fault have slid in reverse instructions over 450 km because the plates first got here in touch with one another. Over the millennia, these quakes have pulverized rocks, modified the circulate of rivers, floor down mountains, and created new mountains, hills, canyons, and valleys. Right here’s a close-up view of the San Andreas fault space. The crimson line marks the San Andreas fault, and the small black circle reveals the placement of the hike.

Common Desert Mountain climbing Security

Although this can be a comparatively quick hike, keep in mind you’re in a desert surroundings. Being ready will improve the possibility that you’ve got an pleasurable tour.

Listed here are a number of primary security ideas if you’re new to abandon mountaineering:

  • Begin early. Don’t hike in the course of the hottest a part of the day.
  • Know the climate forecast. You don’t wish to be mountaineering within the desert throughout a thunderstorm because of flash flood considerations.
  • Keep hydrated; drink loads of water. Common rule of thumb is 4-6 liters/individual/day
  • Know the indicators of warmth stress.
  • Cowl your pores and skin. Costume appropriately in mild weight free becoming garments, hat, and correct sneakers/boots.
  • Look ahead to vegetation and wildlife and hold your distance. Bear in mind that is rattlesnake territory. Additionally, eradicating cactus needles isn’t nice and one thing you wish to keep away from.
  • Carry a path map. Contemplate downloading an app corresponding to AllTrails or MapMyRun and even higher a GPS app to trace your path.
  • Bonus Suggestion: Preserve additional water and snacks in your automobile. Even sizzling water is best than driving residence thirsty after an extended desert hike.

Pushawalla Palms Loop Path: 5 miles

Pushawalla Palms Loop is a well-marked path positioned inside the 17,000-acre Coachella Valley Protect Space close to Thousand Palms, California. The trailhead is positioned lower than 15 miles from Palm Springs on Thousand Palms Canyon Rd. There’s loads of parking on the primary street however be ready for crowds on weekends. The trailhead is open year-round and there aren’t any charges or permits required.

The trailhead is the start line for a number of space hikes, so make certain to comply with the Pushawalla Palms path indicators. For the primary 0.5 km, the trail winds its manner by way of a dry stream mattress know as a wash. Through the temporary fall and winter wet season, washes like this present drainage channels for surrounding hills and mountains. These rains assist to disperse wildflowers seeds which root within the sandy soil because the water slowly evaporates. Come spring when the grounds warms, the seeds sprout and the path is lined with purple, yellow, and white wildflowers. This isn’t the picture most individuals have of the desert. The wildflowers draw massive crowds within the Spring, however fortuitously, most individuals solely hike a brief portion of the path to view the wildflowers.

After strolling by way of the wash, the path begins climbing Bee Rock Mesa. This mesa and the encircling hills are wedged between two faults which have squeezed and uplifted the rocks and gravel to create this straight line of sharply outlined hills alongside the fault.

The path winds its manner alongside the ridge of the mesa. Though this isn’t a knife edge, watch out since there’s a 90-100 meter drop off on both aspect of the path. Get pleasure from your stroll on the mesa; take within the sweeping views understanding that 3+ miles straight beneath your ft is the San Andreas fault.

After mountaineering 1.6 km, the Horseshoe Palm grove seems on the right-hand aspect of the path on the base of the hill. This lengthy string of palm bushes extends over 1.5 km. These palms flourish in the midst of the desert as a result of the fault beneath us has pulverized the bedrock permitting groundwater to seep near the floor and nourish these bushes. It’s not unusual to see a straight line of palm bushes or different vegetation rising alongside sections of the San Andreas fault.

The trail follows the ridgeline for two.5 km. By now the gang could have considerably thinned out with most individuals returning to their vehicles. Sadly, these folks assume the wildflowers within the wash are the most effective a part of this path – they’re so flawed.

Over the following 1.25 km, the path begins a gradual descent to the ground of the Pushawalla Canyon. A piece of the path has been closely eroded by latest rainstorms. This isn’t a tough space to navigate however it does require extra cautious footing.

After 3.2 km of mountaineering, you emerge on the ground of Pushawalla Canyon and are virtually instantly surrounded by a lush inexperienced surroundings. In each instructions, for so far as the attention can see, there are the Pushawalla Palms. Why is it referred to as Pushawalla? Legend has it that Pushawalla was the identify of an area Native American who lived to be over 100 years outdated. Allegedly he died when a summer season cloudburst flooded the canyon he was in and swept him away. The canyon the place he was discovered known as Pushawalla Canyon.

The California Fan Palms are the one palm tree native to the US. The telltale signal of the California Fan Palm is the “skirt” of outdated lifeless palm fronds that cascade downwards round its trunk (slightly than dropping off like different palms). Watch out strolling across the fallen palm fronds. They’re typically utilized by rattlesnakes for canopy and shade; snakebites have been reported within the Pushawalla Palms space. It’s price repeating, respect desert wildlife.

You possibly can discover Pushawalla Canyon in each instructions. Underground fissures attributable to the San Andreas faults present groundwater within the canyon a simple path to the floor. You’ll discover a small stream flowing on the bottom. The stream typically mysteriously disappears into the sand after which reappears additional down on the path. Be on the look-out for rabbits, coyotes, and all types of birds who’re drawn to the water.

Typically it feels extra like you’re strolling by way of wetlands with tall grasses and vegetation encroaching on the path. It’s unusual that this lovely desert oasis was created by faults and earthquakes that we usually solely affiliate with harm and destruction.

After exploring the palm oasis, it was time to go again. There are a number of choices you would possibly wish to discover. For our return we selected to climb out of the canyon by way of the rock gully that we had used to descent from the ridge after which comply with a path to the bottom of the hills. Strolling on the desert flooring offers a brand new perspective of the terrain. As we handed the Horseshoe Palm grove, we had a transparent view of a number of folks mountaineering on the ridge path above us.

As we hiked additional away from the hills, the vegetation grew to become sparser. However keep in mind, the attention-grabbing factor in regards to the desert is that it hides its magnificence so properly.

If you’re mountaineering within the late winter or spring make sure you transfer slowly and look fastidiously. You will see that a wide range of small and enormous flowering vegetation and possibly even a lizard or two alongside the path.

After mountaineering on the desert flooring for barely greater than 1 km, we climbed again as much as the ridge and made our approach to the automobile.

For this hike we logged 10 km, however numerous maps point out typical lengths starting from 6-Eight km. Our extra mileage was because of our intensive exploration of Pushawalla Canyon. Even with a cease for lunch and pictures, we accomplished the hike in 3.Three hours. Within the satellite tv for pc picture beneath, the crimson dot marks the trailhead, and the inexperienced dot marks the intersection the place we rejoined the ridge from the desert flooring on our return route.

Mountain climbing alongside the San Andreas Fault within the Coachella Valley shouldn’t be about discovering the “large crack within the floor”. Tens of millions of years of abrasion have piled upwards of three miles of gravel and rock particles on prime of the fault. Though the fault is buried, now that it’s simply seen by following the strip of inexperienced vegetation that runs in a straight line in opposition to an in any other case naked sequence of hills and brown desert washes. Hopefully, this data will encourage you to discover the San Andres Fault and Pushawalla Palms in your subsequent go to.

Further Sources

Thousand Palms Oasis Protect

Locations to Keep

There are numerous resorts, boutique resorts and Airbnbs to remain at within the Larger Palm Springs space. Besides in the course of the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in April, acquiring a reserving shouldn’t be an issue.

Locations to Eat

As a result of the Larger Palm Springs space is such a vacationer draw. There are eateries to fulfill any want.

Listed here are a number of of our favourite spots to take pleasure in an after-hike dinners:





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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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