Sunday, November 30, 2008

Desert Oasis

This week, on our desert getaway, we hiked up Palm Canyon to a natural desert oasis. Groves of palm trees can sometimes grow in areas along earthquake faults, where water can easily find a way to reach the surface. Coyotes eat the seeds and as they travel and visit water stops to drink, they leave fertilized seeds behind. It's an amazing sight to see palm trees and water in the middle of a dry, brown desert. This picture was taken when the oasis first came into view. You can see a group of palm trees in the distance, in the center of the photo...

There were a lot of other great things to see on our way up the canyon. This was one of my favorites, desert lavender. I love the smell of lavender and it was such a surprise to find it in the desert. The plant was different than the lavendar we're use to. It was more like a bush and it was very open, twiggy and dry. The flowers were very similar to what we're use to but the leaves were small, thick and hard. When you rub them and smell your fingers you get a beautiful scent of lavender.

I don't know what this flower is called but it's pretty and the hummingbirds love them. There were a LOT of hummingbirds there and they were mostly black in color.

Here's one of the many kinds of cactus. The colors are beautiful.

Here's a closer shot of the oasis. We learned that the dead frawns are best left on the trees to insulate them from the heat and to help them retain their moisture. There are so many palm trees in Southern California and it's odd to see them with their "skirts" on because people usually trim them off. In the state park, as in nature, they get to keep their clothes on. Sadly, we found out that some visitors think it's fun to set them on fire. We found a few of them with charred trunks and most of their skirts missing.

Here's a picture of some of the wet area around the oasis. There were water ponds, small, trickly water falls, plants, algae, and lots of tiny frogs. My husband and daughter are in the center of the picture. As you can see, some of the boulders are huuuuuuge!...

I've hiked up this canyon several times (I even did it when I was a kid), but it's always amazing to me to see an oasis in the middle of the dry, brown desert.

Something that kept our interest the whole way up the canyon was evidence of a recent flash flood that had gone through and drastically changed the canyon and flooded out half of the campground. There were huge boulders that had fallen from the sides, some were moved by the water and changed the path of the trail, and there were hundreds of tree trunks that had been washed down the canyon. It looked as though the water had reached depths of 15 to 20 feet in some places. It must have been quite a storm.

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