Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jeanette's Hike in the Painted Canyon

Following this sandy road, north east of Mecca and into the Orocopia  Mountain area, was the starting point of our hike into the Painted Canyon and the canyon ladder area.

(Click once, or twice, on any photo for a close up view) 

An idea of the terrain we would face during our hike.
Soon to stop to begin our hike.
Directions  to Painted Canyon from Desert Hot Springs:
East  on  I -10 to Indio....South on  S-86.... and east to Mecca. 

Rick in the lead, followed by John and I.
Our hike started at 10:30am. Blue skies overhead and a slight breeze with temperatures in the low 70s. What a great day for my first desert hike. Rick Rick & Paulette's RV Travels John RV Life On Wheels and I stood at the entrance to Painted Canyon. 
I feel really small, compared to the size of these boulders.  The entrance is just behind me.
Now, what direction to take?  Was it the rock wall with crevices to the left or the open canyon floor to the right?

Rocks placed as 'arrows' for directions.
Rick was here a few days ago  and although he only hiked part way, he did have an idea as to which direction to take. He pointed in the direction to the opening in the rocks was straight ahead. This can feel intimidating to the inexperienced hikers, such as I.
John, with camera in hand.  Impressive natural sculpting of these rock walls.
Whoa!...John has completed this climb up the ladder - Rick is below waiting his turn.
With narrow passages, twists , turns and an occasional glimpse of blue skies high above our heads, we came across some wooden and aluminum ladders. With varying lengths - from 5 feet to 14 feet - some were secure and others were just resting against the rock walls.  Those were part of our roadway up.
Result of thousands of years of erosion.
Rick in the lead, followed by John....and yes, I'm bringing up the rear while taking photos.
At the base of some of the narrow passages, the subject of the recent earthquake in New Zealand came up for discussion. That subject quickly turned to more humorous banter. After all, the Painted Canyon trail is along the San Andreas Fault. This would clearly be an area to avoid during an earthquake.  Yikes!!!!
Barely shoulder width.

Some areas in the passages of the canyon were  only shoulder width.

This is not a place one would want to be in when a flash flood hits. One would want to head for high ground - and quickly too.  Then again, who would want to be hiking in a rain storm?  Not me.

It was  most interesting to see the various layers, different rock formations and varied colors. Some of these formations reminded me of black and white liquorice candy and others of ice cream flavors piled high. These photos hardly do justice to the visual appeal of this place.

Amazing array of colours!

A real assortment of colours and formations.
 Must have been close to lunch time..... if these rock formations reminded me of food. 

The first summit during our climb. John at the lookout.
Rick joined in with  camera in hand.  Check out the beauty of that horizon.
Hey, I made it here too.  John took this photo as proof.
The Salton Sea can be seen from a long distance in the horizon.
I’m told that on a clear day (in the photo above), this is a spectacular view and one can  see as far down as Mexico. However, it  was not clear enough today. There was a haze in the distance.
Much needed lunch break.  We stopped here, at the very highest point in our hike.
 Rocks piled in the shape of an arrow - found along the path -  indicate the direction to take.  Good idea, I say!
Some crafty hikers must have come up with the idea of using natural stones to mark the trail.
My thoughts wonder on occasion and did conjure images that this directional sign could also be a burial plot for some poor soul from yesteryear.  You just never know!

Ocotillo cactus was starting to green up. Note the red flower tips peaking through. 
John and Rick walking by the Ocotillo.
It's an amazing plant.
To my surprise, I saw the purple lupine plants (seen below)!   We have these plants in the lower mainland of British Columbia.  

Lupines are native to Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Inukshuk! The photo below is for Ginette, our daughter. Before our departure this January, she gave me an inukshuk pendant as a good luck charm for safe travel during our RV'ing adventures.
....and a well earned photo break, however brief.
It was a 200 foot drop during our descent onto the canyon floor from the plateau. This terrain is clearly made for a billy goat. But we made it down safely.

The canyon walls below reveal a wonderful array of painted murals. One could just imagine a painters brush strokes and a pallet of colors. 

John takes a more close up view.
Looking at these sculptured rock formations one can fathom the effect of millions of years of wind, rain, erosion and earth movement.

As you can tell by my photos, I was usually bringing up the rear. It was not because I could not keep up, but because of the numerous distractions  and my curiosity to  examine the rocks, leaves, flowers, and to take all of these photos.

I have an aversion to snakes so I’m glad I had no surprises from the slithering  creatures.  Believe me when I say that if I sighted a snake, I would have been at the head of the pack and back at the truck before my hiking partners were even close to making their descent into the canyon.
I believe those holes in the rock could well house wintering snakes.  Yikes!!!!  But it is too cold for them at this time of the year.  Good thing too!!!!
 Because of John's ‘hikers GPS’ we had some pretty impressive stats about our route;  
  • Hike....3 hours                 
  • Distance....5.2 miles              
  • Elevation.....1350feet

What a wonderful day spent at the Painted Canyon.

Special thanks to Rick  Rick & Paulette's RV Travels   and John RV Life On Wheels  for inviting me to join them on this wonderful day. I really enjoyed the hike, the countryside and their companionship.
Rick, me and John. 
Thanks for dropping in.


  1. Looks like a great hike. I would love to do it. Such great scenery. Glad Rick got to do it and after all the comments on his blog, not alone.

  2. Great blog, Jeanette and terrific pictures to go along with it. I'm amazed at all the details you managed to provide us, I obviously missed some things up front! It was good to read about our hike from another perspective too, so thanks for this post.

    Have a safe drive today on your trip home and I hope to see you and Rene again in the near future.

  3. Good for you in taking the iniative to get yourself out on a nature hike like that to see things that so many people do not make the effort to see. The southwest is a beautiful land with so much natural splendor & it's always so nice to see new people coming out to discover it. Don't stop there, keep your hiking boots by the door & get yourself out on another trail. This land is yours to discover:))

  4. way to go Jeannette!..what a fabulous day you had with the 'boys'!!!..nice post and thanks for sharing your perspective! got some great photos!!!

  5. Third time's the charm. I enjoyed this version as much as the previous versions by Rick and John. The guys may have led your merry band of hikers, but now we know that it was your Inukshuk that guided you all out of that canyon. That one photograph (after the one where John has just climbed up the ladder) reminds me of the narrow, twisty turns of Maligne Canyon ... sans the water of course.

  6. Great post Jeannette! Brings back good memories of a great day. Will probably do it again next year... as long as the "big one" hasn't hit by then!

  7. That would be such a great hike, loved your pictures :)

  8. I read the other accounts of this wonderful hike, and yours is the tops!
    Great pictures and descriptions.
    I hope you have more happy trails, Penny, TX

  9. Great post, Jeannette! So sorry I didn't go on the hike. I would have if I had known you were going. Next year hopefully we will meet. Safe travels! Judy from rvlifeonwheels