Monthly Archives: November 2014

image

7 Hikes 7 Days~ Day 2: Ladder Canyon, Mecca Hills

If you have just one day of the year to take a hike, Ladder Canyon is an absolute MUST! It’s the perfect gem for an adventurer at heart, a trek certain to make your ticker race with anticipation, excitement and  good ol’ fashioned cardiovascular activity!

image

Heading toward Ladder Canyon on Painted Canyon road

image

Canyon mouth

The geologic formations of the Mecca Hills are some of the most unusual in the world. This thanks to the San Andreas Fault which runs right underneath Painted Canyon, which you will trek through during the loop. This landscape is truly other worldly. My boys say it looks like Tatioone (Star Wars) and we always talk about pod racing through the canyons. Star Wars aside, I can’t look up at the towering cliff-tops without expecting to see Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner whizz by.

image

Towering canyon walls…did you see Wile E. Coyote?

image

Walk this way!

 

image

Heading up to the first ladder

The hike begins in a canyon similar to those seen in Utah with high plateaus that disappear into the blue skies. You will catch the trailhead between several huge boulders marked with a GIANT arrow and quickly find yourself at the base of the first ladder. There are 5 ladders which help hikers scale natural waterfalls. These are dry waterfalls. : )

image

image

Slot canyon

You will explore huge winding slot canyons which only span an arms width, traverse towering sandstone cliffs until you finally find yourself on what feels like the top of the world. From above you see for miles in every direction. From the Salton Sea to Mount San Gorgonio, the vistas are jaw dropping.

image

Small piece of the Salton Sea in the distance

image

Painted Canyon mineral deposits

The last part of the hike takes you through a wash area called Painted Canyon. There you will see amazing mineral deposits which have turned the cliff sides rose, pink, red, purple and green. I’ve actually seen a couple cute, furry tarantulas on this hike before and always spy some ravens riding the thermals.

image

Painted Canyon wash area

image

Desert Willow

image

Tree covered with desert mistletoe

image

Vibrant Palo Verde branch

image

Ocotillo

There are many desert plants  Smoke Trees, Palo Verde,  Desert Mistletoe, Desert Willow, small Beavertail Cactus and towering Ocotillo. All the flora look so lush in contrast to the neutral tone wash. I HEART this hike!

 

of note ~ 6 miles, moderate loop, 450 foot elevation gain, takes approx 4 hours

 

image

7 Hikes 7 Days ~ Day 1: Araby Trail Palm Springs

The first hike of seven just had to be in my hometown, Palm Springs. I have blazed many trails in these mountains just minutes from my house. I grew up playing hide and go seek on the hillsides, shoving pieces of it in my pockets for a grand rock collection and picking handfuls of yellow, rain-scented creosote flowers to sit as centerpieces at our family table. I certainly feel most comfortable on these trails.

Wild Willow!

Wild Willow!

Today I wanted to tackle Araby Trail with my  wild at heart companion, Willow. My dear pup somehow gives me a better sense of adventure. With her at my side, it always feels like play time! Plus she’s the size of a (small) horse and can lend my legs some muscle, if they need it.

image

Willow on the ridge

So there we went snaking up the San Jacinto mountains behind the exclusive Southridge neighborhood.  This hike provides  some of the best views of Bob Hope’s former home you will ever see. You will also see the John Lautner designed Elrod House which was featured as a swank bachelor pad in the 1971 James Bond movie Diamonds are Forever. Sean Connery famously took a dip in the pool there. Willow and I would have loved to join him for a quick cool-off!

Elrod House

Elrod House

Bob Hope's former home

Bob Hope’s former home

Oh the elevation gain…it’s fast and furious with heart-pounding switchbacks a plenty! Pant, pant, pant.  Catch your breath quickly because the views of the valley will take it away again. You can truly see from the windmills to the Indio Hills.  You can spy the hustle and bustle below but hear a pin drop in the mountains. Not much flora and fauna to speak of…some beautiful barrel cactus and creosote.

Creosote bush

Creosote bush

Beautiful view

Beautiful view

At the top, the trail connects to a few others, Berns, Garstin and Henderson and you can take any of those to drop down the backside of the hill, watch the valley disappear and see only endless rolling landscape.

Made it to the top!

Made it to the top!

pant pant pant

pant pant pant

Of note: This hike is about 6 miles and takes 4 hours-ish. Dogs (of course) and horses are welcome.

 

image

My Assignment (do the legwork first then the legwork)

image

A siesta in Carrizo Canyon

I have to begin by saying that my recent assignment from the Greater Palm Springs CVB, is one that I have embraced (bear hug style) with both arms and my soon to be sore legs. I’m wholeheartedly stoked and ready for an adventure (assignment)! After all, my busy (favorite part) (husband, 3 children) personal life, is not the most conducive to early mornings and late evenings on the trails.

image

Something about rock stacks…so whimsical!

image

The I made it to the top moment! Mecca Hills

The assignment of 7 hikes 7 days, came quickly, so much so that I had to scramble to figure out the basics (journalism aside) like what to wear!  A search at the bottom of my drawers for appropriate (cute) attire was 3/4s the battle. It meant a shopping assignment first…oh poor me, wink.  This job (all the parts of it) may sound like a lot of leg work, it is but it’s certainly a job that won’t feel like one!

image

Here I am contemplating the climb

image

About age 5 with my mom in the Indian Canyons

image

About age 7 on a hike/picnic with my dad

I grew up hiking the mountains of the Coachella Valley. The mountains have helped shape my intellect, extreme appreciation of nature and yes, my wild imagination. Growing up here in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s there wasn’t too much going on. For me, the desert mountains had it going on.  My parents would pack a sack of citrus, pb&j and water, we would cross the washes and head up the slopes. My little legs ached, my young heart pounded and I was hooked. Some of my first and best memories were from the tops of the local mountains trying to spy my house and swimming pool down below.

image

This guy…the mysterious genius behind the camera

I have always LOVED hiking so I truly couldn’t wait to head out the door, become reacquainted with my mountains and document my adventure for others to enjoy.

image

Watching the sunrise on Homestead Trail

Happy Trails!