Thursday, March 5, 2009

Horsethief Creek

Beautiful blue sky. Imagine the sound of a strong wind.  I'm glad I brought a long-sleeved shirt. The hike is along the Cactus Spring Trail, part of the Santa Rosa Wilderness (crossing into the San Bernardino National Forest). The trailhead is at 4,000 feet (it was 62 degrees when I got out of the car) and descends about 400 feet along a rocky, roller-coaster trail. Bighorn sheep inhabit this area. I kept my eyes on the hills (when I wasn't watching my feet) but I didn't see one. They have a reputation for being extremely shy.
A little ways from the trailhead I came upon this box. Signing in constitutes my wilderness permit.
I'm the last signature on the page. Not much traffic on this trail. I was the only hiker yesterday. That's fine with me. I prefer the less frequently traveled trails.
Along with a lot of water in my CamelBak pack, I carry two laminated folders. One has pictures of Southwestern desert plants and flowers. The other is an introduction to tracks and signs of familiar North American species. It includes drawings of animals and their foot prints, signs of animals (like chewed nuts or scratch marks on trees) and drawings of scat. I saw lots of little lizards. One desert squirrel, a tiny bunny, some birds, and some bugs. This is a paddle cactus (Prickly Pear). They were all around this trail. (Hint: Cactus Spring Trail.)
The Agave (Century Plant) were plentiful. Many were blooming, too. Early in the hike I passed an abandoned, dolomite mine. Rusty old equipment decaying in the sun. Just before the end of the trail are the remains of an old corral made of dried manzanita. I imagined the horses that were kept there near the water at Horsethief Creek.
I always take a photo when I reach the end of the trail. Proof that I made it? This is Horsethief Creek. Cottonwood and sycamore trees line the creek bed. It's about 2.5 miles from the trailhead.  I stopped, sat on a large rock, ate my apple, and felt proud of myself for reaching my destination.
I think the shadows on these dried branches are wonderful, almost mystical. The colors are interesting, too.
This Manzanita has the most beautiful red bark.
Back at the car I took off my heavy hiking boots, put flip flops on, and headed back home. The views from the side of the road were awesome. 
The colors are amazing - pinks and purple and blue.
The snow is still on the peaks.
It was a great hike and a beautiful day. This is a gorgeous part of the country to explore. When I'm out in the quiet and solitude of the wilderness it's hard to believe that civilization is just a few miles away.  


  1. Sounds like a wonderful day. A trail, a camera, critters,an apple and ones self.

  2. Sounds amazing Susan. You figured this whole thing out good job! :) It looks so beautiful.