Mojave Desert - True Facts, Legends, & Lies

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Lone Pine Canyon

About This Canyon

Lone Pine Canyon is a young, or new, canyon formed by the San Andreas fault which separates the Southern California and Mojave Desert regions. The fault runs pretty much down the center of the long canyon, follows the edge of the foothills across the ridge in the distance and passes to the left of San Jacinto Mountain furthest away in the shot. At the base of San Jacinto Mountain lies Palm Springs.

Visibility in this photo is about 60 miles. The high mountain to the left is the 10,000 ft. ridge and Mount San Gorgonio in the San Bernardino National Forest. San Gorgonio sits on the North American continental plate while San Jacinto sits upon the Pacific plate. San Jacinto will someday, millions of years from now, move west along the transverse range and sit to the right of where I’m now standing- The Lone Pine Canyon saddle.

One hundred and fifty years ago Mormon settlers came to the canyon and found a single pinyon pine tree about half way up along the way. Near the pine is where they built the rock shelter where they lived until called back to Zion to go to war with the United States. The lonely pine still stands today in better condition than the fallen pile of rubble that once was the stone cabin.

Lawman Wyatt Earp’s sister and her husband (Almon Clyde) lived in the canyon later on and planted apple trees. The orchard still produces sweet apples that when in season, may be bought from the rancher that now owns the place- Sometimes not. The orchard is high upon a terrace on the side of the mountain, so a thief would have to first brave late summer rattlesnakes in the brush before dodging buckshot.

The odd-looking spire in the foreground is a Lord’s candle yucca. The flame is gone, but will/may ignite again in several years, if the rain is right. The big bush front and center is a rubber rabbitbush. Note that this shrub is the only thing a rabbit will not eat. Rubber rabbits don’t eat, ’cause they’re rubber. During World War II experiments were made to attempt to extract the rubber from the plant.

To the right, and out of the shot, is Slover Canyon. This canyon at the head of the Lone Pine canyon is where the last grizzly bear in southern California was killed by Isaac Slover, and interestingly enough, where the last grizzly bear killed Isaac Slover. That being a whole other canyon is a whole other story, which I’ll save for a time when I get a decent shot.

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