Posts Tagged: weather

Season’s Reflections

As yet another season comes to an end here at Pathfinder Ranch we take a moment to reflect back on this fall’s accomplishments. By the end of this week we will have seen almost 2,400 students. We started the season with sunshine and some thunderstorms, and will be ending with rain and cold. Through it all staff and students alike have kept positive and enthusiastic attitudes.

We were lucky enough to make it through this busy fall with minimal illness for Ranch residents including our horses, farm and nature center animals. Unfortunately, some of our free range chickens were taken away by local coyotes, but we’re hopeful for new Silkie chicks in the next few weeks! Hopefully our January and February schools will get a chance to see newly hatched chicks!

One of our most exciting additions to the Ranch is the High Tunnel. It is currently home to many seeds and starter plants that will weather the winter inside, and give us a head start on next spring’s garden plans. It has also proven an excellent shelter from the much needed rain showers over the past few weeks.

Overall this season has been full of improvements, growth and excitement. Here’s looking forward to an equally amazing spring!

Students enjoying a geology class in the National Forest.

Students enjoying a geology class in the National Forest.

Rainy Days!

What a week here at Pathfinder Ranch! The rain came down hard this week, but that didn’t stop us from having a blast! The kids threw on ponchos and loved playing games and even hiking in the rain. Our students got to spend some great one on one time with the horses including feeding, grooming, and saddling on their own! We also got to take advantage of our great Nature Center, where Gwar the ball python got lots of love from excited kids.

Canyon is handling Gwar as he finishes taking care of the animals.

Canyon is handling Gwar as he finishes taking care of the animals.

Although the rain makes it a little more difficult to get outside and play, we all breathed a sigh of relief knowing that we are finally getting some much needed rain here in California. The below average precipitation over the past decade has led to some serious situations such as drinking water shortages, salmon habitat destruction, farm shut downs, and increased prices for crops and livestock. A study on tree rings recently discovered that we are in the worst drought that California has experienced for 1200 years!

The storm dropped a steady amount of rain most of the week.

The storm dropped a steady amount of rain most of the week.

Our washes are filled with water after several months of being bone dry.

Our washes are filled with water after several months of being bone dry.

So, when we get a good rain storm like this, does that mean the drought is over?? Unfortunately not… Though our washes are full of rain water, and our trees are sucking up moisture for now, we must still remain aware of water conservation! Keep those showers short, and don’t forget to turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. At home you can also save water by washing only full loads of laundry, not washing cars as often, watering plants early or later in the day, and using drip system irrigation for gardens and plants. Think of other ways you can help save water! Here at Pathfinder, our leftover drinking water from meals is used to mop the floor, we are limited to 3 minute showers, and all of our unused water from hikes goes to our garden and farm animals! There are lots of ways that you can continue helping out with water conservation at home and at school. And of course, it never hurts to do a little rain dance…

Season of Thanks

Time is flying by here at the Ranch; we can’t believe it is coming up on the end of our fall season! We are having such a great season, and since Thanksgiving is a few days away, we figure, why not look back at all we have to be thankful for!?

First, we are thankful for the rain that the Ranch got this past week! You know we will take any rain or snow we can get, but the fact that it came over night and didn’t force any of our classes inside was even better! Plus, who doesn’t like waking up to the fresh smell of rain and ribbonwood?

We are also thankful for the cool fall temperatures and the beautiful leaf colors all over the Ranch! One of the most beautiful views to see the changing leaves is on the horse trail. What an amazing sight!

Some students are enjoying the fall colors and beautiful landscape during their horseback ride!

Some students are enjoying the fall colors and beautiful landscape during their horseback ride!

Our new Silkies are fitting in well with the other chickens at our farm!

Our new Silkies are fitting in well with the other chickens at our farm!


We have had a few new additions to Betsy’s Farm! We now have three Silkie chickens and two Silkie roosters. They are loving their new life at the Ranch and are a great addition to our farm. The students love watching them and getting the chance to pet them while out at the farm!




Pathfinder is also thankful for our friends and supporters! In case you missed it, we had an amazing time at the Food Truck FriendRaiser on November 16th at The Living Desert! We saw so many old friends and made a lot of new ones, too, all while listening to great music, eating delicious food and enjoying The Living Desert exhibits!

Last, but certainly not least, we are thankful for all of the students, teachers, and chaperones that have been up here at the Ranch this season and all those who are still to come. We love sharing this gorgeous place with you and teaching more about the world we live in!

And what post about the Thanksgiving season would be complete without a recipe for you to share at your table this holiday season!? Hope you love pumpkin as much as our Naturalists!

Pumpkin Swirl Bread:



  • 2 pkgs (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz.) solid pack pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups all- purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ½ cup chopped dates


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 8×4-in. loaf pans. In a small bowl, beat filling ingredients until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, beat sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil and water until well blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, pie spice, soda, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves; gradually beat into pumpkin mixture. Stir in walnuts, raisins and dates.
  • Pour half of the batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Spoon filling over batter. Cover filling completely with remaining batter.
  • Bake 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in bread portion comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Wrap in foil; refrigerate until serving.
  • Just before serving, if desired, in a small bowl, mix confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough milk to reach a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over bread; sprinkle with walnuts.

Yield: 3 loaves (16 slices each).

California’s Drought

Water Shortage And How You Can Make a Difference!


As summer approaches, we at Pathfinder Ranch turn our attention to the concern of water shortage and how we can conserve this precious resource. In Garner Valley and in the surrounding mountains, there has been a lack of regular rainfall and snow this winter and spring. What this means for Pathfinder Ranch is that we must take certain steps in order to conserve what precious water we do have. Students staying here at Pathfinder Ranch help us conserve water by taking three minute showers, not dumping water from their bottles onto the ground, and not letting water run excessively from sinks and faucets.

When it comes to conserving water, everyone in California making small adjustments in their own lives can have a big impact on our water usage throughout the state. There are many ways in which we can conserve water each and every day. Here are some ways that you can make a difference conserving water at home:

  • Keep one glass for water and reuse it throughout the day, or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
  • Instead of just letting the water run while you’re washing dishes, try filling up two basins, one for washing and one for rinsing. You can also use the water you’ve collected to help water the house/garden plants rather than dumping it down the drain afterwards.
  • Time your shower to keep it under 5 minutes. If your bathroom has low flow shower heads you’re using between 1 and 2 gallons per minute. So, if you cut your showers from 10 minutes to 5 minutes, you’re saving up to 10 gallons per shower!
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and you could save up to 4 gallons a minute.
  • Check all of your faucets, shower heads, and hose handles for any leaks.
  • When doing laundry, make sure to match the water level to the size of the load. Try to only do full loads to save on electricity as well.
  • You can also collect water from your roof by installing gutters and downspouts that have pipes leading to large plants/trees/bushes. Or even better, install a cistern or large collection container to store this water for the drier summer months. This water could be used later to water your plants or wash your family’s car.

Most importantly, make sure to spread the word to family and friends that we all need to conserve water. We can’t survive without water, so make sure to use this valuable resource wisely and do your part to help conserve water!

Pathfinder Additions

Hello there! Just like the recent weather changes from hail flurries one week to highs in the 70s the next, Pathfinder Ranch has also been constantly changing with new additions and improvements happening every day.

One of the additions that we are most excited about is our brand new climbing wall structure and zip line! The climbing wall structure has been getting lots of use from our school groups. The students love trying the new routes and obstacles on the different walls. There are now three sides that have been named after places here in California that our Naturalists like to hike and/or rock climb– Taquitz, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite.

Here's a student climbing the Joshua Tree wall!

Here’s a student climbing the Joshua Tree wall!

Climbers going up two of the three sides on our new climbing wall structure!

Climbers going up two of the three sides on our new climbing wall structure!








Along with the climbing wall we have added two new zip lines! Although the zip lines are not ready for this spring’s school groups, we are planning on having them ready for Adventure Camp (June 23-28) this summer. Come and join us for six days of climbing, hiking, explorations, and other fun adventures. Don’t forget about our summer camp (spots are filling quickly so email or call our office for openings), and the fun we’ll be having with all of these amazing additions!

Our albino kingsnake, Cleopatra, is getting some quality attention from the staff.

Our albino kingsnake, Cleopatra, is getting some quality attention from the staff.


We also have a new living addition, Cleopatra (Albino Kingsnake), to our Nature Center.  She is doing well adjusting to her new home. She is still very young and is getting used to all of the love the Naturalists are giving her. We can’t get enough of little Cleo!


We have our fingers crossed that turkey chicks will hatch and add to our flock at the farm! Our mama turkey, Jenny, is currently sitting on the eggs she laid. The eggs are slightly larger than chicken eggs, are brown in color and have dark brown specks. Stay tuned via Facebook and our blog to see if the eggs hatch into cute baby turkey chicks!

Here's "Jenny," our female turkey who laid these eggs.

Here’s “Jenny,” our female turkey who laid these eggs.

So many turkey eggs...hopefully they hatch!

So many turkey eggs…hopefully they hatch!










Hope spring finds all of you well and excited for summer!

See you down the trail,

Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists

Thorns, Roses and Buds with Grass Peeking Through

Ethnobotany at Pathfinder Ranch

Sunshine and her Ethnobotany students discuss some of the ways the Cahuilla used plants

Every Friday when we meet for our staff meeting we start out by sharing our thorns*, roses, and buds.  The thorns are our rough points from the previous days.  Our roses tell about the highlights and moments where we laughed.  We save the buds for last.  The buds tell about what we’re looking forward to down the road.

Geology Course at Pathfinder Ranch

Dandelion leads the way as her Geology class rocks out!

One of my buds recently has been the arrival of the wet season.  The idea of me being excited about rainy and snowy weather would likely raise an eyebrow or two among the other outdoor education staff here at the ranch.  After all, I’m usually one of the first to opt out of any scenario where I might end up cold and wet.  Still, it’s a bud nonetheless.

Mallard at Pathfinder Ranch Lake

This migrating male Mallard decided to take a break at our lake.

Why?  It’s because the precipitation now and in the coming months will ensure that there will be life throughout the valley and mountains later in the year.  Without the rains we would miss our Desert Sand Verbenas, Goldfields, and Miner’s Lettuce.  Should the snows pass us by the frogs and toads would have no vernal springs for their tadpoles.  I’m also pretty sure Dandelion and Dragonfly would be really disappointed if they didn’t get to go sledding at least once this winter.

In the past couple of weeks we’ve run the gamut of weather at the ranch.  We’ve hiked in t-shirts in the sunshine, woken up to a fresh blanket of snow over the ground, seen ice on the lake, and endured three-day stretch of gloom and drizzle.  As cold as it’s been at times there has even been a sighting or two of lizards.  Lizards!  In January!  The grass is starting to peek through the sand down in the wash, too.  Winter can be so weird here.  I like it!  What’s your favorite season of the year?

OTR (On The Road):  If you’re looking for someplace to go enjoy the wet season I’d recommend checking out Tahquitz Canyon down in Palm Springs.  We visited there recently to learn more about the cultural history of the area and about the local plants.  It’s a great place to learn about the Cahuilla even if it’s your first encounter with their culture and traditions.  The 2-mile roundtrip hike up to the huge waterfall at the end of the canyon trail will make the trip totally worthwhile!  Be aware that there is an entrance fee that goes toward taking care of the canyon and sustaining the Agua Caliente band of the Cahuilla.

That’s all for now from the ranch.  I hope you are enjoying the weather wherever you are!

Your favorite naturalist ever,
Mountain Goat

“All seasons have something to offer.” – Jeannette Walls

* Did you know roses don’t actually have thorns?  They have prickles instead.  Thorns are really modified branches or stems; prickles are a bit like nature’s equivalent of having spiked hair.