Executive Charter—Rugged Rivers of Boulders
Story and Photos by Mike Russell
Our thanks to Silver State Helicopters LLC
Helicopter Pilot: Travis Taylor
In our latest Executive Charter flight our pilot flew us to Chiriaco Summit,
which is the site of the General Patton Memorial Museum, 30 miles east on Indio just off of the I-10 freeway.
A quick study of the area showed that the rugged mountains to the north of the
Chiriaco Summit Airport are known as the Little San Bernardino Mountains.
They are at the southern edge of Joshua Tree National Park and range from 4,000 - 5,000 ft. in elevation.
which is said to be a favorite of rock climbers. The area we flew in appeared to be a succession of huge boulder piles.
We chose to fly up a canyon known as Munsen Canyon where we found a number of small groves of large adult palms growing. These trees survive on subterranean water. An extremely short rainy season is the only water received. They do quite well considering. Numerous insects, birds and rodents find shelter and food on or near these palms.
|Chiriaco Summit - click image||Munsen Canyon- click image|
|A .kmz file is viewable in Google Earth.
Save the .kmz file to your computer
(right click) Munsen_Canyon.kmz
Hikers must carry ample water supplies even for short tours of the area in the summer, or anytime in fact. Hiking here in the summer is not recommended. Daytime temperatures frequently reach 117 degrees or more. Winter season also can be threatening. Daytime temperatures vary from the 60’s to 70’s; however, nighttime levels can dive to near freezing or below according to altitude. The Munsen Canyon area is covered with Creosote bushes, Palo Verde trees, and is home to coyotes, jack rabbits, Desert Tortoises, Big Horn Sheep, Kangaroo Rats, a bird called Phainopepla, Buckwheat (see inset), and forests of Joshua Trees (relative of the Lily) as well as a host of wildflowers that are of great beauty in spring and early summer. The Joshua Tree National Park is in the high desert called the Mojave Desert (pronounced: mo-hauv-e). Just below in the Coachella Valley a lower land area is known as the Sonoran Desert. Munsen Canyon is right near the southern dividing line of the two distinctively different desert areas.
Scenery from the higher elevations can give the charter passenger stunning views of the lower canyons and plateaus of the region. Although it may appear to be an area of desolation, wildlife does abound.
Stunning Desert View - Yucca Sunrise
The helicopter can climb up the canyons like no fixed-wing aircraft can. This, I feel, is the way to view the desert mountains the easy way. The rugged area prevents landings and flying in the area requires elevation minimums. Our long-range camera lens gave us astonishing views of the massive accumulations of odd shaped rocks as the afternoon sun was heading for the western horizon.
At the edge of Chiriaco Airport grows a variety of buckwheat that blooms on
or near Veterans Day, November 11th some years. It also grows in the region.
This specimen is 12 inches high and about 18-20 inches wide.
From this low angle it looks like a miniature tree.
Buckwheat 12 inches high - 20 inches wide
Our Executive Charter was Piloted by Travis Taylor.
Silver State Helicopter Pilot - Travis Taylor