Tracking Wild Donkeys in Southern California … Quite the Challenge!
I set out to find some wild donkeys on our own Colorado Desert here in Southern California. I have seen wild them just outside of Blue Diamond (on the outskirts of Las Vegas, but never here. We have seen their tracks and droppings over the past few years. They had chewed on a bales of hay placed just outside our camp (used for archery). Yet, I have yet to come across any of these critters on our local desert.Today I set out to find some.
After riding a few miles south along the Coachella Canal I came across trail cut deeply through a mud bank dirt by donkey hooves. I immediately turned east (away from the canal) and followed the tracks across a dry wash bed.
After about 30 yards the trail made a U-turn and crossed back over the wash.
I thought maybe they had were headed to the canal for water … but a hundred yards shy of the canal they just stopped. An area the size of a trampoline was all torn up, as if the donkeys had all stopped and dug with their hooves. Did they have a party there? A group discussion? Maybe an orgy?
Looking carefully around the area I noticed a light path of hoof tracks heading south from the party area.
This path turned, crossed the wash again, and headed east. Several times I had to veer around piles of donkey droppings.
Just a couple hundred yards farther the wild donkeys I was following appeared to be joined by others.
I tracked this path for at least a mile before it branched into several less traveled trails. Picking the one with the most tracks I continued on. Another mile or so and the weak tracks I was tracing were joined by others and I was back on a main line. But, less than a mile farther I came to another dirt bowl. The turf was all torn up. I noticed nothing which would give me a reason for their digging … no special grasses, no pieces tasty roots, no signs of water, no bee’s honey, nothing!
Only one lightly traveled path left this dirt bowl to the east, so I followed. But not more than two hundred yards later all hoof prints vanished! I don’t know where these donkeys could have gone. After riding in widening circles (like I have read about in cowboy movies) I spied no donkey tracks!
I decided to ride back to the canal and start over.
Interactive Map for Tracking Wild Donkeys
- Click the big blue “P” for driving directions to the trailhead.
- Click Tracks or Icons for More Specific Information.
This time I changed my approach. From the canal I headed off toward the northeast. When I came across donkey tracks I always followed them east … toward the Chocolate Mountains. When the tracks petered out I headed north. Followed tracks east, head north. Follow tracks east, go north.
My plan was to follow all tracks as far as the mountains, then make one last dash down the alluvial toward camp.
While taking this approach I came across some interesting sights in addition to wild donkey tracks.
My Garmin 800 Edge (gps) told me sundown would be at 4:57 this day. So, I decided I would head for camp at 4:15 whether I spotted any donkeys or made the edge of the mountains. I accomplished neither!
Racing Back to Camp
I find riding down crusted-over sand washes a blast. I rode hard and made camp by 5:05, just as darkness was setting in.
After riding 27+ miles I still had not met up with any wild donkeys. I followed countess traffic trails, circled around several heaps of donkey dung, found holes they had dug for some weird reason … but once again, never spotted a single animal. I know they are out there, but where?
The following link can give you all the stats for this ride … just click on the box below.