From a distance, desert gives way to what appears to be some strange, fat palm trees clustered together in batches. Its a sure indication of water. The Visitor’s Center for Choachella Desert Preserve sits in the middle of this stand of palms.
We elected to hike the McCallum Trail to Mirror Pond. We power walked three miles earlier in the morning and this trail is one of the shorter ones, though none are particularly rugged.
And those fat palms are the same graceful species we see everywhere, except in their natural, un-groomed state, they retain their fibrous, dead fronds like a cloak. Its easy to see how the desert foxes, coyote’s and cougars can find cover in this dense stand of palms.
On hot days, hikers can find respite in this spot trimmed to provide a shaded sanctuary under the palms.
The palms grow so clustered together, they make a solid front to the wind, homes for birds and smaller animals and birdsong greeted us as we approached the pond.
The pond water is constantly replaced, rather displaced by what appears to be a running creek. The center explains that the water is displaced and forced up from underground by the San Andreas Fault.
The amount of fiber these trees produce is overwhelming. The fiber is coarse and strong. One can imagine native populations choosing it for clothing,shelter, building, waterproofing and fuel.
The frond stems are tough, strong and barbed.
Layers of leather looking “shingles” adhere to the trunk where the fronds break off.
The green fronds have fiberous threads and are also tough and unfriendly to the hands.
On the edge of the cluster, the wind keeps the trees “trimmed”. We saw lizards and a rabbit on our hike, but none of the larger mammals in the preserve. Hikers we met who took the 4 mile loop saw a coyote and a wood rat.
It was a beautiful, cool day to hike. If you go, don’t forget to bring water. For more pictures, click my link.