Due the circumstances regarding this field trip, please note that the writing style of this summary will differ slightly compared to that on my previous Kelso Dunes field trip summary, which you gave a 25/25. Thank you.
At 7:45am, on Saturday, December 11, my mother and I headed out from 29 Palms Marine Base to meet Professor Bridenbecker and the rest of my Geology class at the Oasis parking lot in the Coachella Valley Preserve. We had just made it to the mountain pass between Morongo and the I-10 when I decided that since time was closing in on 9am and since we wouldn't make it to the parking lot on time, then it would be best to get a hold of Professor Bridenbecker to find out which trail we should take once we got there. We left a message on his cell phone's voicemail.
We arrived at the Oasis parking lot around 9:20am and found a sign near the visitor center that stated, "San Andreas Fault," with an arrow pointing left to an obvious trail. Figuring that this was the trail that my Geology class had taken, we followed it for 10 minutes until it looped back to the visitor center. Talking to Mickey, a Coachella Valley Preserve volunteer, we received information clarifying that my Geology class did meet in the parking lot, stayed there for 10-15 minutes as Professor Bridenbecker talked, and the headed out on a trail. When we asked which trail my class had taken, Mickey suggested that they took the McCallum Trail. Trusting that this information was valid and hoping that we'd meet up with my class if we kept a fast pace, my mother and I headed out on the McCallum Trail. Little did we know, the trail markers on this preserve didn't have the same aspects and notes of information as those in any other National Park we've visited. Due to this, we additionally followed Moon Country trail that led us unknowingly up Herman's Hike and Willis Palms Loop.
Blah blah information from USGS Inland Empire's online article on "Mission Creek Fault," from my own observations, and from the "Self Guided Trail Guide" that I picked up from the visitor center only after our long hike blah blah...
After the "adventure" through almost half of Coachella Valley Preserve's hiking trails, I only have a few personal things to say without getting carried away.
One, it would have been NICE to receive some sort of message from Professor Bridenbecker after we had called, texted and left messages several times. Even if Professor Bridenbecker had finished the class's official field trip through, what I can only guess was, Hidden Palms Loop or Pushwalla Trail, which were the ONLY trails my mom and I didn't go one because we never even saw the entrance to those trails until we came back to our car from the visitor center, it would have been VERY HELPFUL if we heard from Professor Bridenbecker. This would have saved us a lot of wasted time and effort hoping to find the class along the trails we had traveled.
Two, this preserve is highly underfunded. Many trail markers are so outdated that they have the wrong phone number on them. Additionally, unlike most National Park trail markers, these do not signal the name of the trail, how long the trail is, when the trail should end, and how far away the visitor center is. Trails often become ambiguous and reappear on the Willis Palms Loop. Perhaps if more attention and increase in public attraction towards Coachella Valley Preserve, then perhaps the increase of visitors and their donations will provide funds to attend to these issues.
Lastly, hopeful thinking is a strong fuel for willpower. It can prompt and push people to move forward toward a goal, no matter how unlikely and unachievable it may seem. However, hopeful thinking is best when not wasted on finding a class on a hiking field trip when you're already late.