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Climbing Alongside the San Andreas Fault in Southern California – Journey Dudes


Southern California is filled with superb climbing alternatives, however maybe few are as attention-grabbing as those who run alongside the San Andreas fault within the Colorado Desert of the Coachella Valley.

Considered one of my favourite hikes alongside the fault is Pushawalla Palms Loop.

This hike gives completely different and superb landscapes that have been shaped by earthquakes and tectonic plate motion alongside the fault.

Fast Primer on the San Andreas Fault Community

Scientists have discovered that the Earth’s crust is fractured right into a sequence of “plates” which have been transferring very slowly over the Earth’s floor for hundreds of thousands of years. Two of those transferring plates, the Pacific Plate and North American Plate meet in western California; the boundary between them is the San Andreas fault. This fault varieties a steady slim break within the Earth’s crust that extends over 1,000 km from northern California southward to the Mexico border. Normally, these plates slowly collide, separate and grind previous one another at a charge of about 50 mm per 12 months. Nonetheless someday the plates lock in place till the stress created by the plates overcomes the power of the rock. At that time, the rocks fracture alongside the fault and seismic waves radiate in all instructions, inflicting the Earth to vibrate and shake. An earthquake happens because the plates transfer ft or tens of ft in simply seconds.

Since this state of affairs has been repeated again and again over 40 million years, it’s simple to grasp that land on both facet of the fault have slid in reverse instructions over 450 km for the reason that plates first got here in touch with one another. Over the millennia, these quakes have pulverized rocks, modified the movement of rivers, floor down mountains, and created new mountains, hills, canyons, and valleys. Right here’s a close-up view of the San Andreas fault space. The pink line marks the San Andreas fault, and the small black circle exhibits the placement of the hike.

Common Desert Climbing Security

Although this can be a comparatively brief hike, keep in mind you might be in a desert atmosphere. Being ready will enhance the possibility that you’ve an pleasing tour.

Listed below are just a few fundamental security ideas if you’re new to abandon climbing:

  • Begin early. Don’t hike through the hottest a part of the day.
  • Know the climate forecast. You don’t wish to be climbing within the desert throughout a thunderstorm resulting from flash flood issues.
  • Keep hydrated; drink plenty of water. Common rule of thumb is 4-6 liters/individual/day
  • Know the indicators of warmth stress.
  • Cowl your pores and skin. Costume appropriately in mild weight unfastened becoming garments, hat, and correct sneakers/boots.
  • Look ahead to vegetation and wildlife and preserve your distance. Bear in mind that is rattlesnake territory. Additionally, eradicating cactus needles isn’t nice and one thing you wish to keep away from.
  • Carry a path map. Take into account downloading an app comparable to AllTrails or MapMyRun and even higher a GPS app to trace your path.
  • Bonus Suggestion: Maintain further water and snacks in your automobile. Even scorching water is best than driving dwelling thirsty after a protracted desert hike.

Pushawalla Palms Loop Path: 5 miles

Pushawalla Palms Loop is a well-marked path positioned throughout the 17,000-acre Coachella Valley Protect Space close to Thousand Palms, California. The trailhead is positioned lower than 15 miles from Palm Springs on Thousand Palms Canyon Rd. There’s loads of parking on the primary street however be ready for crowds on weekends. The trailhead is open year-round and there are not any charges or permits required.

The trailhead is the place to begin for a number of space hikes, so make sure that to comply with the Pushawalla Palms path indicators. For the primary 0.5 km, the trail winds its manner by a dry stream mattress know as a wash. Throughout the temporary fall and winter wet season, washes like this present drainage channels for surrounding hills and mountains. These rains assist to disperse wildflowers seeds which root within the sandy soil because the water slowly evaporates. Come spring when the grounds warms, the seeds sprout and the path is lined with purple, yellow, and white wildflowers. This isn’t the picture most individuals have of the desert. The wildflowers draw giant crowds within the Spring, however luckily, most individuals solely hike a brief portion of the path to view the wildflowers.

After strolling by the wash, the path begins climbing Bee Rock Mesa. This mesa and the encircling hills are wedged between two faults which have squeezed and uplifted the rocks and gravel to create this straight line of sharply outlined hills alongside the fault.

The path winds its manner alongside the ridge of the mesa. Though this isn’t a knife edge, watch out since there’s a 90-100 meter drop off on both facet of the path. Take pleasure in your stroll on the mesa; take within the sweeping views realizing that 3+ miles immediately beneath your ft is the San Andreas fault.

After climbing 1.6 km, the Horseshoe Palm grove seems on the right-hand facet of the path on the base of the hill. This lengthy string of palm bushes extends over 1.5 km. These palms flourish in the midst of the desert as a result of the fault beneath us has pulverized the bedrock permitting groundwater to seep near the floor and nourish these bushes. It’s not unusual to see a straight line of palm bushes or different vegetation rising alongside sections of the San Andreas fault.

The trail follows the ridgeline for two.5 km. By now the gang could have considerably thinned out with most individuals returning to their automobiles. Sadly, these individuals assume the wildflowers within the wash are the most effective a part of this path – they’re so flawed.

Over the following 1.25 km, the path begins a gradual descent to the ground of the Pushawalla Canyon. A bit of the path has been closely eroded by latest rainstorms. This isn’t a tough space to navigate nevertheless it does require extra cautious footing.

After 3.2 km of climbing, you emerge on the ground of Pushawalla Canyon and are nearly instantly surrounded by a lush inexperienced atmosphere. In each instructions, for so far as the attention can see, there are the Pushawalla Palms. Why is it referred to as Pushawalla? Legend has it that Pushawalla was the title of an area Native American who lived to be over 100 years outdated. Allegedly he died when a summer season cloudburst flooded the canyon he was in and swept him away. The canyon the place he was discovered is named Pushawalla Canyon.

The California Fan Palms are the one palm tree native to the USA. The telltale signal of the California Fan Palm is the “skirt” of outdated lifeless palm fronds that cascade downwards round its trunk (relatively than dropping off like different palms). Watch out strolling across the fallen palm fronds. They’re usually utilized by rattlesnakes for canopy and shade; snakebites have been reported within the Pushawalla Palms space. It’s price repeating, respect desert wildlife.

You may discover Pushawalla Canyon in each instructions. Underground fissures brought on by the San Andreas faults present groundwater within the canyon a simple path to the floor. You’ll discover a small stream flowing on the bottom. The stream usually mysteriously disappears into the sand after which reappears additional down on the path. Be on the look-out for rabbits, coyotes, and all types of birds who’re drawn to the water.

Usually it feels extra like you might be strolling by wetlands with tall grasses and vegetation encroaching on the path. It’s unusual that this stunning desert oasis was created by faults and earthquakes that we usually solely affiliate with injury and destruction.

After exploring the palm oasis, it was time to move again. There are a number of choices you may wish to discover. For our return we selected to climb out of the canyon by way of the rock gully that we had used to descent from the ridge after which comply with a path to the bottom of the hills. Strolling on the desert flooring supplies a brand new perspective of the terrain. As we handed the Horseshoe Palm grove, we had a transparent view of a number of individuals climbing on the ridge path above us.

As we hiked additional away from the hills, the vegetation turned sparser. However keep in mind, the attention-grabbing factor concerning the desert is that it hides its magnificence so properly.

In case you are climbing within the late winter or spring make sure you transfer slowly and look rigorously. You will see that a wide range of small and enormous flowering vegetation and possibly even a lizard or two alongside the path.

After climbing on the desert flooring for barely greater than 1 km, we climbed again as much as the ridge and made our method to the automobile.

For this hike we logged 10 km, however varied maps point out typical lengths starting from 6-8 km. Our extra mileage was resulting from our in depth exploration of Pushawalla Canyon. Even with a cease for lunch and photographs, we accomplished the hike in 3.3 hours. Within the satellite tv for pc picture beneath, the pink dot marks the trailhead, and the inexperienced dot marks the intersection the place we rejoined the ridge from the desert flooring on our return route.

Climbing alongside the San Andreas Fault within the Coachella Valley isn’t about discovering the “big crack within the floor”. Tens of millions of years of abrasion have piled upwards of three miles of gravel and rock particles on prime of the fault. Though the fault is buried, you already know now that it’s simply seen by following the strip of inexperienced vegetation that runs in a straight line in opposition to an in any other case naked sequence of hills and brown desert washes. Hopefully, this data will encourage you to discover the San Andres Fault and Pushawalla Palms in your subsequent go to.

Extra Sources

Thousand Palms Oasis Protect

Locations to Keep

There are numerous resorts, boutique resorts and Airbnbs to remain at within the Larger Palm Springs space. Besides through the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in April, acquiring a reserving shouldn’t be an issue.

Locations to Eat

As a result of the Larger Palm Springs space is such a vacationer draw. There are eateries to satisfy any want.

Listed below are just a few of our favourite spots to get pleasure from an after-hike dinners:



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