1-3-2014 It has something to do with the light

Desert Hot Springs 62 degrees F this evening and high thin clouds with a sliver of a moon

Whitewater Canyon Hike (10)I guess because I grew up in Southern California there is something about the color of the light that touches me down deep.  I certainly wouldn’t want to live here all the time, but when I visit, memories surface and I feel as though I am in very familiar territory.  I slip back into feelings and impressions I had when I was a kid, nameless, the memories are nothing solid, but the sensations are interesting to experience.  Wordless, really, and yet I keep trying to put it into words somehow.

It felt that way early this morning, as Mo and I swam in the hot springs pool at 5am, watching the stars and the many airplanes in the dark sky going in all directions.  We had the place to ourselves until 6:30, a surprise, because usually there are early risers slipping into the hot water long before daylight.  The water in the adult pool in the lower part of the park where we like to stay was a comfortable 95 degrees or so, and the hot spa was 104F.  Hot enough to soak out any left over aches and pains left from sitting around too much in the rig.

Whitewater Canyon Hike (9)As much as we enjoy coming to Catalina Spa and RV Resort, it is getting to be a bit more difficult.  The park is a membership only kind of place, and while they honor our Passport America card, they now limit our stay to only 2 nights. Otherwise the rate is 65 bucks a day, more than either of us wants to spend, no matter how nice the pools are.  The new rules will let us stay here for 4 days for a mere $45, if we spend an hour listening to a spiel for purchasing a Coast to Coast membership, and this would be our home park.

Whitewater Canyon Loop TrailWe are a bit too rambling for that sort of thing, though, and our road trips include state parks, national parks, boondocking, and lots of other kinds of camping than a Coast to Coast membership would provide.  Not a good use of money.  So who knows if we will come back again.  Today we went over to Sam’s Family Spa, a place that Nina seems to love, but it seemed a lot bigger and busier and the pools aren’t open all night as they are here.  That is my favorite thing.  I love slipping into a silent hot pool in the middle of the night and swimming under the stars.

Later this morning, when we emerged from the Tracker at the Whitewater Preserve ranger station, that light thing hit me again really hard.  Adding to the light was the fragrance of sycamore trees and cottonwoods along the riverbed that almost made me feel that I was 9 years old again.  My daddy used to take me on hikes into the San Gabriel Mountains that looked and felt very much like these mountains around us at the base of the Mt San Gorgonio Wilderness.

Whitewater Canyon Loop TrailNina and Rick have both talked about hiking Whitewater Preserve with their dogs.  Finding dog friendly hikes in Southern California is only second in difficulty to finding dog friendly beaches in Florida.  I was happy to have a new idea for something for us to do that would be fun on our only full day here in Desert Hot Springs.Mo on the Whitewater Canyon Loop Trail

The hike was a perfect Southern California hike on a perfect SoCal day: warm, a light breeze, and brilliant, brilliant sunshine illuminating everything around us.  I stopped in at the ranger station first to get a handle on the trails and a young man at the desk gave me a thorough and very practiced talk on where to go and what to follow.

switchbacks on the Whitewater Canyon Loop TrailWhat I didn’t realize was that we would be hiking along a very small portion of the Pacific Crest Trail,  the PCT, subject of a great book I just read called “Wild”.  The PCT meanders along the Cascade crest not far from our home in Rocky Point, and Mo and I have hiked bits and pieces of it when we climbed McLoughlin and hiked in the Sky Lakes Wilderness.  The cute little guy behind the desk said, “Gee, you could walk home from here!”.  Hmmm…maybe not.

The 3.5 mile loop that we hiked today was definitely enough. I am a bit soft from an autumn full of quilting and not enough snow shoveling.  The switchbacks weren’t too difficult on the way up and neither of us were huffing and puffing too terribly, but the knees definitely need a bit of work to handle those downhills.  Thank goodness for hiking poles I guess.

Whitewater Canyon Loop TrailWe spent about two hours actually hiking and some more time just sitting by the bubbling water letting Abby play before we ambled back to the parking lot.  There are lots of hikes in the area,  a couple of easier ones, and several more strenuous 8 mile one way hikes that followed the PCT for a great distance. 

With a light breakfast and no lunch in our bellies, I was glad that we needed to slip into Palm Springs to buy a missing printer cable on the way home.  I just knew there had to be ice cream somewhere in downtown Palm Springs, and with a little bit of help from google we found Lappert’s Ice Cream.  My oh My!  I had some kind of Kona coffee thing with fancy chocolate in it.  The place had lots of Hawaiian themed goodies, and something called Donkey Balls.  Hmmm….I did ask about that, and they are macadamia nuts coated in chocolate.  Just like the ones from Maui, although I didn’t know they were called donkey balls. 

Who takes a Segway into the mountains?

only in Southern CaliforniaWe were happy to get home in late afternoon.  Dealing with Palm Springs traffic and people isn’t exactly fun, although seeing Palm Springs in the daytime was kind of nice.  Most of the time when we are here we only go there in the evening for the street fair.  Once back home we settled in to do money stuff, and Mo was very happy to have our little working Canon printer along so she could print out needed documents. 

I said, heck with that, I am going for another swim!  With only two days to enjoy the pools I don’t want to miss a minute.  I walked a bit more distance to the upper pool, supposedly the nicer one.  It was a bit cooler and a bit bigger, but there were a lot more folks around, since it was getting close to time for the “all you can eat” spaghetti supper. With just an ice cream lunch, it started smelling pretty good and I walked back home to start of the Weber and made some yummy pork chops and rice with a salad.  Much better than spaghetti from a community pot I think.

I swam last night when we arrived, at 5am this morning, and again this evening.  I will be in the pool again tomorrow before dawn as well, you can bet on it.  We are heading to Gila Bend and Tucson tomorrow, still not sure whether we will stop in Gila Bend for the night or just press on to Tucson.  All depends on how we feel.  Gila Bend FamCamp isn’t that great and Tucson is fabulous, but who knows.

Google Earth image of our hike on the Whitewater Canyon LoopWHITEWATER

Got an email tonight from Texas warning of possible weather trouble in the vicinity of Fort Davis, so spent a bit of time re-checking routes and weather and fuel stops.  Nope.  Don’t want that low fuel thing to get us when nights could be in the teens as we get into Texas in a few days.  When I planned this trip, I knew that the weather could do anything and everything between Oregon and Florida, so hopefully we are ready for whatever comes our way.


Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

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