|The canyon in spring - internet pic!|
|Visitor center to welcome you!|
|Not so welcoming!|
For centuries, the ancestors of the Cahuilla Indians lived in this and the nearby canyons. The constant water supply enabled them to grow crops and raise livestock. A legend says that Tahquitz was the first shaman and had much power, that he used for the good of all people. But over time, Tahquitz began to use his power for selfish reasons and to harm the Cahuilla People. They became angry and banished Tahquitz to this canyon that now bears his name. A variation on the legend says he kidnapped a young woman and eventually struck her dead. He made his home high in the San Jacinto Mountains, in a secret cave below the towering rock known today as Tahquitz Peak. It is said that his spirit still lives in this canyon and that he steals the souls of those who venture too far into his canyon at night as well as being responsible for local earthquakes. As this was an afternoon walk, we hastened down before dusk!
|Fall colour from Californian sycamores|
|The day we visited - a bit grey!|
|Looking back down over Palm Springs set in the desert|
The canyon still shows faint remains of habitation but generally it appears as a natural environment. There are no signs and footpaths are not clearly marked, so you need to be aware of your route. The path does however roughly follow the creek that bisects the canyon. Its a rough path with rocky steps, which leads up into the mountain, crossing the stream at various places. The huge and beautifully coloured rock formations are amazingly impressive. Sadly most of the ancient tribal art that used to be visible, has faded or been destroyed.
All around are cacti and other indigenous plants and towards the top of the path, the landscape becomes lusher with clusters of scrubby California sycamore. This is actually Platanus racemosa and would in the UK be known as a plane tree - one of the confusions of using common names. Being winter there were few wild flowers but we did see the occasional red bloom on chuparosa, Beloperone californica (correction - this should be Justicia californica - thanks Chad) and also Californian fuchsia, Zauschneria californica which is now correctly called Epilobium canum. (Aren't plant name changes annoying!) Amongst all the scrubby bushes, I was delighted to spot a plant of the desert mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum, although not a particularly attractive plant, being smaller and scruffier that our European one. All around, bare areas of the sandy soil are now showing carpets of green seedlings so hopefully with a few more rainy days, we may well get wild flowers this spring.
|Red barrel cactus|
|Dasylirion I think - corrected to Nolina biglovii - a native of California|
|Teddy bear cholla|
|chuparosa - lots more flower in spring|
|Native mistletoe- bit low down for kissing under!|
|Seedlings bring a promise of wild flowers|
|The waterfall last week|
|Internet pic with lake|
Well, we survived the expedition, didn't disturb any rattlesnakes and managed to get back without risking Tahquitz's night-time wrath so maybe another trip in the spring!