Past the Coyote Den

Yesterday was such a lovely day — cool temperatures, warm sun — that I decided to ramble in the desert. A friend who’d seen one of my previous posts told me about a place where water, perhaps from the Mojave River, had made its way to the surface, and I wanted to see this miracle. Supposedly, a few cactus grow around the guzzler, so I figured I shouldn’t have trouble finding a spot of green in all that taupe. Since I didn’t like the sound of her directions — go past the coyote den, and then leave the trail and climb a snake-infested hill — I decided the best thing was to ascend the highest hill and search for anything growing.


All I found were a few scrawny creosote bushes and gorgeous views.


And boulders. Lots of boulders.

I started to descend one hill, then stopped and looked around, enjoying the solitude, and I saw a sign that stunned me.

Can’t read the sign? Here is a blow-up.


Active firing range? Yikes. I knew the gun club was far below me — I’d been there a couple of times to participate in their Women on Target program, and besides, I could often hear the pop of guns when I was out roaming the desert — but I didn’t know it could be dangerous so high up. I scurried on down the path away from the sign and up to another hilltop where I had a good view of the desert across the street from where I’ve been staying. Although the knoll looks like an elongated pyramid from this view, from where I sit at the moment, it looks like a lot of rocks and jagged peaks.


Since the hardest part of my recent hikes have been the mile-long return trip on city streets, I decided to pick my way around a gated community (the houses the far left of the pyramid photo toward the bottom), across the pyramid, and then down. There wasn’t a path as such — mostly I had to make my own trail through bushes and over rocks. (Not something I would ever do in snake season!) But I did manage to escape that long tarmac trek. When I exited the desert I simply walked across the street and up the driveway.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

4 Responses to “Past the Coyote Den”

  1. Dymoon Says:

    snakes… you went into snake country… brave girl… or is it too cold for them to be out and about… still…. knowing it is their lair, I’d be cautious. but then, if you wear high rugged boots? is that safer?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      From the spring through late fall, there are a lot of Mojave green rattlers in the area, so I make sure to stay on wide paths and to keep my eyes and ears attuned to them. Even though it’s still mostly warm, the rattlesnakes seem to be in hibernation. Someone told me today that if you see lizards, there are probably snakes too, and there haven’t been any lizards that I can see. Whew. And no — I don’t wear high rugged boots. I never even used to wear hiking shoes, but since I am afraid of rebreaking my arm, I make sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes to keep from slipping on the scree.

      • Dymoon Says:

        one can find lightweight hiking boots these days… good investment.. tread carefully, will admit, the landscapes you are showing look very inviting.

  2. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    Didn’t think a coyote would have a den, thought that was just for lions, I’d have thought a lair, but there you go American English different from Australian, and English, English
    See all that desolate desert and rocks and stuff then suddenly civilization; well sort of 😀
    Thanks Pat good post.

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