Mecca Via Ropes & Ladders

My Favorite Niece (MFN) Tara invited me to join her hiking group on an easy hike out in the low desert near the Salton Sea. I was ambivalent about making the two-hour drive to get there, especially because she warned me that the dogs couldn’t go because the trail included some ladders. But, it was a dreary, overcast day here and I knew the desert would probably be warm and sunny and if I stayed home, I would just waste the day on cleaning the house.

Her hiking buddy, Gilbert, drove and the two-hour journey passed pleasantly with interesting conversation. The other hiker in our vehicle was a Frenchman, Jean Pierre, who went by his initials, J.P. because Americans can’t seem to pronounce his name. We met four other women at the trail head, exchanged introductions, and headed up a broad, gravel wash in search of Ladder Canyon.

Trail Marker for Ladder Canyon

Some reviewers of this hike had complained that the trails were poorly marked. We had no trouble finding this trail marker which pointed to the trail. The trail, however, was a little more obscure.

The entrance to Ladder Canyon

Ladder Canyon quickly slotted up and it became obvious how it got its name.

Jean Pierre showed us how the French descend a ladder
A view of San Jacinto Peak and San Gorgonio Peak in the distance
One of the many dramatically colored rocks
Snow white rocks
The easy walk down canyon

We thought the hike was over when we discovered Rope Canyon just before we reached the parking area. Scrawled on a rock at the entrance was a warning: “Danger!” That was all we needed to entice us to scramble up the canyon which immediately became so narrow that we had to take our packs off to squeeze through. Chock rocks of various sizes blocked our path, forcing us to either crawl under or scramble over. Thinking of Aaron Ralston’s ordeal of getting trapped by a chock rock that shifted under his weight, pinning his arm to the cliff, I was very careful about placing my trust in these unpredictable boulders.

Karen quickly gained confidence as she ascended the rope
My bright orange pack made a nice color splash
Kim scampers up like a spider…
while the rest of us await our turn
Tanya beams back at us
Making our way back down Ladder Canyon

Everyone made it through with nothing more than a little scrape and tired legs and all agreed it was probably the most fun hike we’d ever done.

2 thoughts on “Mecca Via Ropes & Ladders

    1. You might be surprised at how confidence building a trail like this is. The rope canyon was a little scary because none of us knew if we were going to have to go back the way we came and many of the rope climbs would have been really exciting to descend. Thankfully, it popped us out on top of the ridge and we were able to descend on the ladder trail.

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