I’ve been hiking a lot lately. Spring has arrived this year with a particular vividness. Wild flowers and cactus are blooming in profusion. The azure sky is dotted with billowy clouds scudding eastward. Snow mantels the high peaks. The temperature in the mid to high 70’s degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for hitting the trails.
All you need is a good pair of hiking boots, comfortable loose fitting clothing and a hat. I use a hiking pole-holiday gift from my son-mostly for show and swagger but it occasionally comes in handy on a steep incline. Bottled water is a must. Three bottles for two hours on the trail is what I need so a small backpack helps unless you don’t mind your pockets bulging with bottles.
Plan ahead. Get Philip Ferranti’s book 140 Great Hikes in and Near Palm Springs (Big Earth Publishing) and select a trail that is appropriate for your physical condition. The levels of difficulty are described as Easy, Moderate and Strenuous. If you are fit and exercise regularly you are ready for Strenuous. If not Easy and Moderate hikes are for you. I have not yet attempted a Strenuous hike and I exercise regularly with a personal trainer and am in good shape for a sixty plus guy. Easy is basically a walk and there are a lot, described in detail, in Philip’s book. Two of Philips’ favorites are the Big Split Rock Slot Canyon Walkabout in the Mecca Hills and the Pacific Crest Trail Ridge Loop in the Whitewater Preserve in Whitewater Canyon.
I can’t get enough of Tahquitz Canyon, part of the The Indian Canyons owned and expertly managed by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Tahquitz is accessed just south of downtown Palm Springs. There’s an entrance fee but it’s worth it and if you stay at a Rancho Mirage resort you get a TOP SPOT Discount Card that provides $2.50 off the regular $12.50 adult admission price. It’s an easy walk to the falls. For me they are the cathedral experience of the desert. You might chat with a friend as you amble to the cascade but once there I promise you’ll lower your voice and speak in a hushed tone. Folks lounge on the boulders at the foot of the falls and gaze at the sculptural elegance of one giant white bolder emerging from the dark pool at the base of the falls. Silent and evocative-Isamu Noguchi would have been awed at by the PERFECTION!