Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Pioneertown Mountains Preserve, Sand to Snow National Monument, CA

Hiked Saturday, May 15. My second day of hiking in the Mojave, in Sand to Snow National Monument, and in a Wildlands Conservancy preserve.

Pioneertown Mountains Preserve is just outside of Yucca Valley. My Waze app had me take what seemed like a longer way, but even that was only about 20 minutes from Yucca Valley. Would have taken me longer to get to the West Entrance of Joshua Tree.

In looking at the map for Pioneertown Mountains Preserve, it seems like there are two loop choices. The first loop at the end of Pipes Canyon Road, has the "Indian Loop," given as six miles plus a 3/4 of a mile spur to Chaparrosa Peak, for 7.5 miles, total. The second loop is the Sawtooth Loop, which starts from near the actual Pioneertown. I did the former and did not see the latter.

I walked it in a clockwise direction, heading first towards Chaparrosa Peak. This trail begins easy, but then makes a steep climb, possibly because they had to build a bypass around a private inholding. Fire burned through this area not too long ago, as there are still lots of standing snags.

The geography looks a lot like Joshua Tree, with the larger boulders and fractured rock piles. But there are very few Joshua trees here. Some Yucca. Some small beavertail cactus. Not a lot of healthy large trees, though.

After the long climb to get out of a canyon, there's a continued climb to Chaparrosa Peak. Expansive views from there, including of San Jacinto.

Once back on the main loop, there's a relatively short but continued climb to get out of the canyon. Then there's a very steep descent down another canyon. A large meadow is visible, beyond the bottom of the canyon. The path of the actual trail is not obvious until you get to the bottom of that canyon when you can see that it makes a shart turn to the right, to exit via a low pass.

These shots are still on the main loop, before the spur to Chaparrosa Peak. The one of San Jacinto is from the peak. There was a peak register there, so I went ahead and wrote in it.
There were some flowers during the steep descent down the canyon, before the junction with the "green" trail on the linked map. But that was only a hint to what was to come.
Down near the Olsen Ruins, the river bottom was thick with large cottonwood and willow trees, and lots of flowering plants near the water of the creek. Not sure if it's a perennial creek or not, but it looked like it would at least a be a seep all year long.

On one straight away, as I could finally see my starting point in sight, there was a well-defined detour, just 20 or 30 yards, leaving the main trail. It led to some faded petroglyphs.

I liked the direct I walked, counter-clockwise. That gave me a rewarding view, where, if I needed to, I could have bailed out and made this a still-respectable six-mile hike.
The climb on the loop after the peak gave more impressive views of the rocky hills around me. The descent through the neighboring canyon was impressive. Then, the surprising green of Pipes Canyon, so shocking against the dry rocky hills. So many flowers in the desert, too.
This is a potentially hot hike, without much shade, once you get away from that green area near the Olsen ruins. Probably not a good summer hike. Great for fall through spring though.
So if I manage to hike the Sawtooth Loop, that will have to wait for fall. That one is given as a 9.5 mile walk, definitely not a good choice if it's really hot.
It's also described as a horse-hike, for riders, although foot hikers are also permitted. As I said, maybe in the fall.
Since this hike, I've taken several more hikes, including another Wildlands Conservancy reserve, and several hikes in my local San Gabriel Mountains. Never getting as much hiking as I like, and definitely not enough time to blog everything, but still a good few months.
I had a doctor's appointment a few weeks back. They drew some blood and worked up a panel. My previous checkup had my A1C and some other indicators trending in the wrong direction. I didn't get to see the actual numbers yet, but the doctor's assistant called and told me the doctor was pleased with the changes he saw.
Managed to get both a bit of hiking since the previous blood test, and a lot more just regular walking while in town. That's been a good thing, healthwise.
My next challege will be the Observatory. Griffith will be opening, soon, and I need to decide how many nights a week I'd like to work, or if I should just enjoy the additional free time, and forego the fun and money. My current inclination is to limit myself to just a day or two a week. That will certainly be the case early, as the first few months, they'll probably only be open Friday-Sunday.

Work used to keep me more active before the pandemic, both during my shift, and during the frequent short hikes before shifts. So there's that to consider too.

In the meantime there are additional hikes to blog. . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment