It was day 3 in Palm Springs, and I was already getting cabin fever that morning. Before I left for Palm Springs, I had already decided I would spend a few of those days outside in the wilderness other than beside a chlorinated pool. A lot of my research time was spent looking into the Indian Canyons of Palm Springs. For those who don’t know, Palm Springs is settled within the Californian Coachella Valley amongst dry, desert mountains. It’s between and around those cascades where you can find the most beautiful trails to hike; the Indian Canyon being one of them.
Today, I took on Fern Canyon Trail with my dear mum. The Canyon is open for hikers between the hours of 8 am to 4 pm. Knowing the heat would get the worst of us around 12, we got to the trading post (the trail head) for 8. The Fern Canyon Trail stretches a total of 3 or so miles (~5 km). The trail starts you off heading up into the deserted mountains. Their hilly roles are speckled with barrel cacti, creosote bush, brittlebush and cholla. My mouth started to feel dry looking at them. It was funny to look down to see your runners getting all soiled with dusty sand rather than to what i’m used to — dirt.
There we were, hiking with a sun. Being so high up there was (thank god) a breeze of some sort. This particular trail took you through two kinds of landscapes. The first part (which made up 2/3 of the hike) situated hikers on the ridges of these mountains. We didn’t gain too much elevation (give or take 200 feet).
I think the prettiest view I experienced hiking this trail was getting up high onto the ridge to look down onto the canyon itself. It displays a huge contrast to the rest of the desert terrain because it’s so green and lush looking. Definitely Instagram worthy. Standing beside the Palms made you feel super small and insignificant.
For those who have ever rode “Thunder Mountain” in Disneyland, the rock figures you hike through looked a whole lot like what inspired the “wild west” design for the ride. I felt like “Lara Croft: Canyon Raider.”
Well, what when up of course came down. Descending from the ridge took you into a Palm Canyon. It wasn’t a gorge exactly, but it definitely reminded me of the time I hiked in Italy last spring. between the canyon walls, super old Fan Palms shelter you from the strong sun rays and form boisterous canopies with their dried, dead leaves. My outdoor instinct came on immediately: “I could sooo build a shelter right now with all those leaves.”
As you’re walking through the canyon, look to your right and you’ll see the dried up river bed. When flash floods occur here (and when they do, they’re massive), this canyon is what holds and directs the copious amount of rain water down the mountains and into the valley. Now, it’s home to many lizards like the western whip-tailed and the leopard lizard. They nestle themselves inside hanging dead palm leaves or between rock crevices. I also spotted a red dragonfly – whaat?
As we were approaching the end of the Fern Canyon trail, something I subconsciously expected DID happen. We were almost done the canyon part; the hike was nearly over. I was casually walking by these two huge Palms where their old leaves formed a skirt around their trunks. A perfect hiding spot (**dun dun duunn**). All of a sudden, what I feared the most happened in all of 5 seconds. I heard a rustling to my left, so I turned to see what possible animal it could be. My first thought (and prayer) was that it was just a lizard; one out of multiple I had already seen that day. Well, was I ever wrong. Folks, I turned to my left to only be face-to-face with a 4 foot long Red Diamond Rattlesnake laying 3 feet away from me!! Holy smokes!! I’m getting goosebumps typing this. You should also know, I have currently removed my feet from the ground and onto the chair beside me. Can you tell I’m afraid of snakes? Surprisingly, I took the whole “snaky” situation quite well (haha, I’m so punny). Only a small squeak came out of me.
About a week ago, I finally saw the Film “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon. It’s about a woman, Cheryl Strayed, who decided to hiked the PCT alone. I distinctly remember a scene in the movie where she was put in my exact situation. I laughed at her reaction in the film, but now that I’ve experienced it personally… holy shit did she ever have balls.
Anyways, according to one of the rangers, these Rattlers are pretty used to humans walking these trails. Thank goodness we both minded our own business. He slithered into the crunchy palm leaves and I stepped away backwards for a good few feet. I did however manage to whip out my camera and take this shot of its backend.
After some casual exchanges of the usual swear words from both my mum and I, we nonchalantly made it back to the trading post. My mum bought her obligatory postcard of a rattlesnake while I purposely avoided the postcard rack and checked out the book section. Oh boy, did I ever have the aftermath willies.
It’s safe to say I got my “wild, wild west” outdoor fix that day. I hope you all enjoyed this read and stay tuned for another post on a different hike I’m going to do this week!
Charlotte & Mr. Rattlesnake xo