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FODM: Community Involvement Programs

Full Moon Hikes

Each month during the full moon, Friends of the Desert Mountains conducts a full moon hike through a wash in the La Quinta Cove area. FODM's goal is to stoke a passion for the environment through recreation programs, like these one. With the help of hike leaders and volunteers, this safe family friendly night time hike focuses on fun and educates people about the desert plants and creatures that call this place home. These hikes are wildly popular.

As you would expect, this hike relies on moonlight to guide people through the mountain wash. However, volunteers carry black lights and flashlights if it's necessary to light up stairs and hilly sections of the hike. For safety reasons, attendees are separated into smaller groups of 10-12 people so they can better enjoy the experience.

Friends of the Desert Mountains full moon hike in the La Quinta Cove area

Starting in the winter of 2020, Dave and I volunteered to help with these community hikes. Since we weren't experienced enough to guide a hike, we acted as sweepers to make sure no one gets lost or separated from the group.

In 2021, the full moon hike program expanded with 'the night before the full moon' hike in Rancho Mirage. Unlike the La Quinta Cove, this is an urban area hike so the highlight is climbing to the pagoda on the top of a hill and overlooking the city lights. It's a different night time experienced but still very popular.

With more experience, in 2022, Dave and I were leading full moon hike in both Rancho Mirage and La Quinta Cove.

In later 2023 or early 2024, the program may further expand to include 'near full moon' hikes in the Coachella communities, of Palm Springs and Indio. Officials from both locations have requested FODMs bring these popular events to their cities.

Monument Night Adventures

Throughout the summer and early fall, FODM sponsors night time hikes with the opportunity to find scorpions and other creatures that change color under black lights. Kids love these night adventure while most adults tolerate the 'opportunity' to encounter a scorpion.

Most years Dave and I aren't around during night adventures but in 2022 we were lucky to be able to participate in one of these events. As a hike leader it felt like I was constantly herding cats, but everyone enjoying hunting with the black lights.

Despite their typical short attention span, kids are always the best scorpion spotters and Dave benefitted when his group spotted these 1-2 inch gems crawling in the night.

Bat Night Adventures

Did you know the National Park Service promotes Bat Week each year to raise awareness about the need for bat conservation. As part of this celebration, the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto National Monument Visitors Center and Friends of the Desert Mountains host a Bat Night Adventures hike in La Quinta Cove.

Over 50 adults and kids attended the event. As dusk approached Dani, the National Monument Manager, gave a brief talk about the important role that bats play in our ecosystem and provided a few interesting facts about the bats that live in the Coachella Valley.

  1. There are over 1,300 species of bats in the world.

  2. Bats represent over 20% of all mammals on the planet.

  3. There are over 20 different bat species found in the Coachella Valley.

  4. Rather they use the membrane of their wings and tail to “basket-catch” prey.

The group set out with black lights, powerful flashlights and bat detectors.

In our case, the detector consisted on an iPad outfitted with an ultrasonic microphone and software. The microphone picks up the ultrasonic sounds that bats emit and the software converts them into a sound that humans can hear.

In the field, this detector picked up the echolocations ultrasonic signals and an algorithm identified the calls as a common Canyon Bat.

During the hour long walk through the wash the group saw and heard at least 20-30 bats flying overhead, most agreed that it was a successful Bat Week event.

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