2018 - Trip Report - Living Desert, Eagle Mountain
Living Desert, Eagle Mountain Railroad Trestle, Bradshaw Trail, Whitewater Nature Preserve & Mission Creek Fault Lines
December 11-12, 2018
Leaders: Jerry & Dolly Dupree
We were hoping more of our members would be going on this trip. We had originally signed up five vehicles, but four backed out. The trip was attended by Jerry and Dolly Dupree, Peter and Janet Austin. It turned out to be fantastic weather and a perfect trip. The timing went on schedule and we saw and did everything we wanted to.
We met at the Living Desert in Palm Desert and walked to many of the exhibits and then found we could ride the tram and get off anywhere and take another tram which are at 20 minute intervals. They have an amazing array of animals from every continent, specializing in desert environments.
They are breeding endangered animals that probably would have become extinct without the aid of their program. They continue to add more exhibits and expand their facility. Next year they will add African lions and rhinoceros to their collection. They have giraffes, gazelle, kudus, leopards, jaguars, chee.tahs, wolves, javelina, wart hogs, and other species.
We had lunch at the Living Desert and we had planned dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant but found it closed, so we went to Plan B which was Italian. We stayed at a Holiday Inn in Indio and enjoyed their complimentary breakfast, then headed toward the Salton Sea by way of Mecca and the All American Canal, also known as the “Border Friendship Canal” as it flows along the Mexican Border paralleling I-8. We needed to cross the canal and flood control dike in order to begin the Bradshaw Trail, which required travel north to find a crossing at a siphon and then follow the canal road on the opposite side. We traveled on roads through some canyons and dry river beds. We were concerned about the fact that it rained the previous week and may have given us unpredictable washouts and standing water. It turned out to be perfect as the soft sand that we previously encountered, was a firm driving surface.
The railroad trestle was the half way point and we stopped under it for our lunch break. Dolly and I had military MRE’s, which were excellent. The Eagle Mountain open pit mine is located adjacent to the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park. Kaiser Steel established the mine for the WWII effort and built the longest private railway from the mine to connect with the Union Pacific Railroad and hauled ore to the Kaiser Steel Mill in Fontana. The trestle crossing the river bed and Bradshaw Trail is about 40 feet in height and 600 feet in length. The rails and ties have been removed and it is a matter of time until the trestle will be dismantled.
We turned off the Bradshaw Trail and paralleled the former railroad bed (Summit Road) until we came to I-10 at Red Cloud Road. We drove on I-10 west of Palm Springs and Highway 62 to the Whitewater offramp and headed to the Nature Preserve at the end of the road.
It is a beautiful location which used to be the Whitewater Trout Hatchery. There are three large ponds, a very large grassy camping area, and many hiking trails to various destinations. It is about a mile from the Pacific Crest Trail which runs from the Mexican border to the Canadian Border. It is frequented by back packers, many of whom have hiked the entire length. Some are “section hikers” who have hiked the trail in increments. There is a ranger station which has several exhibits and a very good video presentation. We were there while the leaves were colored a beautiful yellow and falling from the trees. It is just a nice place to walk along the ponds and creek and listen to the birds and the waterfalls.
It was also a great way to end the trip.