For the past couple years, the Bump and Grind Hike in the Palm Desert area has been one of my favorite desert hikes. Each season, it offers an opportunity to test and improve my hiking skills and endurance along its 3-mile-trail. This time, we decided to hit the trail early in the morning, around 9 AM, just as a few early birds were wrapping up their trek. As always, the Bump and Grind Trail proved to be a challenging journey, rated as moderate to intense.
The initial part of the hike has always been a tough one, especially as we’re getting back into the swing of the hiking season. My wife, ever the family motivator, has an uncanny ability to push us beyond our originally planned limits. A quick glance at the trail shows signs of wear and tear, with sections still missing from the impact of Hurricane Hilary, which wreaked havoc on the trail back in August.
Once past the treacherous areas, the path becomes more forgiving. The dirt trail, peppered with rocks, allows for a smoother pace. The ascent begins gradually, with the sun slowly warming us up. With no shade in sight, all we can spot are small green shrubs scattered along the rocky path and in the distance.
The Half Way Point
The first part of the climb twists and turns, and progress can be slow due to the remnants of washed-out trail sections. I had to assist my wife in navigating these precarious spots as they were not safe to cross without care. Loose and eroded rocks heavily surround the trail. The grinding portion of the hike is the most demanding. It’s a straight climb that requires a lot of leg work and strength. You can see the struggle on the faces of those climbing up, as well as those making their descent. The combination of dirt and rocky terrain is unforgiving, and some hikers might slip along the way. Meanwhile, there are runners on the trail that leave us in awe, motivating us to aspire to that level of fitness one day.
After the strenuous effort, and with sweat drenching us from head to toe, we finally reach the trail’s peak. We’ve hiked 1.25 miles up the Bump and Grind Trail in less than 45 minutes. It’s not our best time, but it’s early in the season. Our kids are elated and run around with excitement because the challenging climb is behind us. Now, all we have left is the fun part of the trail, which is wider and less rocky but covered in slippery dirt. Evidence of the recent passage of Hurricane Hilary is everywhere, with most of the trail in poor condition and some shortcuts obliterated. Massive cracks and washed-out areas remind us of California‘s fault lines. We proceed with caution over these treacherous sections, while our kids are lost in conversation, discussing the dragons they’ve been reading about in a book series.
Descending takes us about another 45 minutes, covering about 1.75 miles back to the trailhead. The descent is gradual but long, and it’s a bustling route with many hikers opting for this side, as it’s easier to climb up and hike down. Shade is still nonexistent, and the sun starts to blaze overhead, but a constant breeze along the downhill portion keeps us from overheating until we reach the trail’s base. By this point, we’ve collectively consumed over a gallon of water. Surprisingly, despite our past wildlife sightings, this time we hardly notice any creatures – not even a lizard or a bird. It must be the season for them.
In the end, we complete the entire 3-mile hike in less than 90 minutes, and it’s a gratifying accomplishment. We decide to reward ourselves with a well-deserved treat.