Mastodons, Mammoths, and Big Horn Sheep

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December 19th, 2013

In our attempt to dodge the precipitation that was scheduled all over Southern California we covered a lot of ground and biomes.  We found some interesting places, both natural and man made.

– Riverside south of the 60 freeway: A real life lean-to under a tree in the middle of an open field, with a car pulled along side

-Hemet, Gilman Springs Road east of Highway 79: “Golden Era Productions”, better known as Scientology’s retreat and training center

-Hemet: The Western Center for Archaeology and Paleontology, a pretty cool museum featuring items that were unearthed during the construction of Diamond Valley Lake, including Native American artifacts, recent settlers’ tools, a mastodon, and a mammoth skeleton.  The layout is spectacular, with moveable outlines of California that show the coastline through Earth’s various geologic eras, and the actual mastodon bones embedded in the floor below transparent viewing tiles.

– Mountain Center to Lake Hemet- Snow.  Lots and lots of snow.

– Highway 74 Palms to Pines Highway Overlook- Wind.  Lots and lots of wind.

– Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountians National Monument, Art Smith Trail- Just before dusk, we explored this trail, named after one of Palm Desert’s most active trail creators.  The trail begins in a wash with lots of wild cucumber and cholla.  After a short distance you enter a steep cliffed canyon with dark rock walls narrowing on each side.  After we passed one lone California Fan Palm, our water thirsty native palm that indicates that water is close to the surface, we decided it was time to turn back before it got dark.  As we turned around, a bighorn sheep toppled a line of rocks hundreds of feet down the cliff face to the trail right in front of us.  Luckily, he seemed to have fled, and didn’t topple any more missiles our way.