Apart from the fabulous sunsets one of the things I really love about the desert in the winter is hiking and when the conditions are right it’s one of the best solo adventures you can have. I do some of my best thinking while I hike (as does pooch, no doubt) so it always puts us at ease with the world….and gives me fodder for blog posts.
Well conditions finally got right. After almost 10 days of sizzling hot weather here in Desert Hot Springs the temps finally broke a couple of days ago. It was not an easy transition. The desert is a moody gal and made her summer exit in grand style by knocking us around in with a massive wind-storm before finally, begrudgingly, letting the winter climb in.
So yesterday morning the sunrise dawned to a brand new world. Cool valley temps (50 °F =10 °C), brilliant blue skies and not a gust of wind in sight. As soon as I opened that window Polly and I looked at each other and knew it was time to go hiking. There are actually a ton of really cool hikes to do around Desert Hot Springs. Unfortunately many of the better known spots, such as the Indian Canyons are barred to dogs which obviously makes them a no-go for us, but lots of the mountains are crisscrossed with hidden trails plus there are county preserves (Mission Creek & Whitewater Trail) which are pooch-friendly.
But one of my fav spots is a ~6-mile round-trip to Flag Mountain right here from the RV park. I discovered it last year from some Canadian RV neighbours and it’s become one of my absolute favorite hikes in the area. Not only is it well hidden, but it’s strenuous enough to give you a good workout and leads to a fabulous view of the entire valley from the top.
So Pooch and I headed out to conquer the trail with a spring in our step and the warm morning glow of the desert sun at our backs. We had the entire mountain to ourselves and took our fine time getting to the top. The valley of Desert Hot Springs and the surrounding cities stretch for miles providing a seemingly endless flat landscape dominated by the lovely 10,834 foot San Jacinto Mountain in the background. It’s a glorious feeling -> hiking in the still winter air, breathing in the dry scents and watching the horizon drop beneath us.
When we finally got to the top we were elated and spent. The summit flag had seen a year of unrelenting desert winds and was a mere ghost of her former glory, but it was still exciting to see her mark the top. And despite my hopeless sense of direction we made it the entire way (and back) with nary a miss-step on the trail (well, there was that ONE side-trail I accidentally took in a completely contrary direction on the way home, but these are but minor details).
A great morning, a fine hike and the beginning of my beloved desert winter. Life is good today!
P.S. For directions to Flag Mountain see my post from last year HERE. For those w/ a GPS the mountain part of the hike starts at approx. 33.935785,-116.434275 (you can walk thro’ the desert from Sam’s Spa right to the start of the hike).