It’s fame has been overshadowed recently by subduction zone faults under oceans that create mega-quakes followed by a tsunami.
But the San Andreas fault in California has long been one of the most feared, revered and certainly one of the most studied faults in the United States. And if you’re brave enough, you can hike on it.
Here I am at what’s called the Coachella Valley Preserve with my one year old nephew. You just gotta love his shirt. “Ladies Man!” Hey, it was a hand-me-down from the Sussman kids!
But in this picture some amazing things are captured. We’re standing on bone dry desert sands not far from Palm Desert, California. Behind the camera is a barren landscape of sand, rocks and a lizard or two.
But in this picture you can see a sudden stand of well watered palm trees.
It’s a true oasis of free flowing water in the desert. And it’s thanks to the San Andreas fault that runs right through the trees! Geologists say the fault bent and twisted enough rock below the desert that it blocked water flowing underneath, forcing it to bubble to the surface. It was so strange to hear this bubbling water and know that we were walking right on the fault line.
If you travel to the Palm Springs – Palm Desert area you should consider this side trip. It’s free and just a few miles outside of town. And not only is there the 1.4 mile easy loop right on the San Andreas Fault, but there are about 25 miles of additional trails in a true desert landscape.
Just remember to bring your camera and plenty of water. Because you won’t want to drink the stuff bubbling to the surface. For more on a 3-d mapping effort underway and what’s expected of the San Andreas Fault, check out the Salton Seismic Imaging Project.
By the way, the visitor center for this experience is just five miles or so from the nearest In-N-Out Burger at the I-10/Monterey exit. We stopped and had lunch there on the way back to our hotel. A great way to celebrate a hike on one of the world’s most famous faults!