Tag Archives: Wilderness

Ladders and Painted Canyons Loop Hike

MECCA HILLS WILDERNESS

Activity: Day Hike

4.5 miles, 820′ elevation gain, 2.5 hour duration, rated Moderate

Date: 1-29-23

I did this hike with fellow outdoorsman Loren, whom I refer to as the “Trail Boss”, because of his Off-Roading expertise. Not long ago we had an Off-Roading trip in Anza-Borrego, not too far from where this hike is, with a group of friends and he planned it all out and kept everyone on the straight and narrow. Well, none of the canyons we drove were straight but they were narrow, lol.

Ladders Canyon and Painted Canyon Loop Hike is not unique in the beauty found in some of our South West Canyons, but it is certainly at least on par with some of the best. What is unique, I have discovered, is the Ladders Canyon portion. It is literally a canyon full of ladders. Without the ladders you would need to be a rock climber to do this hike as it is well passed scrambling, although there is still a bit of that as well.

The adventure begins with 5 miles of driving on dirt- ending up in a wash. When you exit the asphalt there is a sign saying “4 Wheel Vehicles Only”. It was nothing at all for my 4Runner TRD Pro, but we did see a few regular cars bouncing along slowly on the bumpy road taking a beating on the washboard track.

We arrived at the trailhead mid morning and I guess we were not the only ones that heard that this was one of the Best Hikes in Southern California. Of course I will say that I am spoiled as I try to do my hiking during the week, but in this case that was not an option for my workaday friend.

As soon as we reached the first ladder there was a bottle neck of people. We were informed that was nothing compared to the 50 or more stopped-up a little further ahead. So we regrouped and decided to take the loop counter clockwise. This meant that we would do the ladder portion last going down the ladders instead of up. Seemed like a fine trade off.

Bottleneck at the first couple ladders forced us to rethink our endeavour.

During the counter clockwise route we first walked in a wash, a mixture of packed sand, and pea gravel. The Painted Canyon walls were stunningly beautiful and throughly rugged. The trail led up top to a view of the desolate surrounding desert hills, far off snow capped mountains and we could peer over the side down onto the canyon trek we had completed earlier.

This ladder ended with a rope assist and scramble to the next level.

We scampered up to a high spot on a hill overlooking the trail for a break. Not so much because we needed one, but it was nice to stop and take in the surroundings. Our reason for the pitstop was over the far hill hikers appeared like army ants swarming the trail. Apparently that bottle neck of outdoor enthusiasts had made their way to the mid point of the outing, so it was a good time to take a few steps off the trail.

In this area there seemed to be more than one route, we even got off course for a bit before rechecking our GPS trek and then doing a little cross country traverse down a rather steep, stoney hillside to get back on track. Between the start, where we turned back away from the crowd, and getting off course we added about a mile to our day, no biggy.

Most of the trail is pretty easy. Going down into the slot canyon portion was a bit more rugged, heed caution in this area. Watch your step as it is steep with some loose footing. After this point we got into the slot, wow was that cool. Love slot canyons and this was a good one to be sure! Narrow, winding and the rock changed in it’s texture and color. It was pretty amazing.

We were now in the last quarter of the hike and it was ladder time. A series of ladders are maintained by the Coachella Valley Hiking Club, I understand. That is very nice of them. The ladders are in okay shape, perhaps a bit rickety, so certainly look them over including the placement. I saw a couple of people that needed to take a breath before tackling them, but they really aren’t that bad. It was pretty fun as the only ladder I remember being on during a hike was at Arizona Hot Springs where it was quite rickety and slippery down a waterfall of hot water. Most of the ladders are just like you placed them against your house. One leads down into a tight hole, and another required a rope to assist you with a bit of a scramble as a means to reach the next level. All very doable, so not to worry.

Ladders Canyon and Painted Canyon Loop Hike was tremendous. We throughly enjoyed it. Keep in mind that it is pretty popular so if you can adjust your time to that different then most folks that would probably be preferable.

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“Nature can bring things back into perspective and that is important…
No essential. At least every so often it is crucial to get out
and un-shoulder some of that burden that accumulates as part of life.”
– Roger Jenkins, Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Thanks for joining Trail Boss Loren and myself as we found ourselves ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ on ladders in a painted canyon. There are more adventures to be had. Stay with us by doing some or all of the following: LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. The menu above is chock filled with ideas and inspiration for your own adventure into Nature, something that we all need to balance out our busy lives. Each location or activity is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. If you like the hat and shirt that I am wearing I have a full line of top quality Adventure Wear with the PBTA Logo and Mantra at SHOP APPAREL for your purchasing pleasure.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Icehouse Canyon to Timber Mt

SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS

SAN BERNADINO MOUNTAINS

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST

CUCAMONGA WILDERNESS

Activity: Day Hike, Peak Bagging

9.5 miles, elevation change 3336’, 7 hour duration, rated Hard

Date: 11-18-20

This is a special area and a special hike. Things you need to know to start with is that you will need to come early. Although the parking area is a good size it will fill up on the weekends, as the Icehouse Canyon Trail is a starting point for numerous hikes. You will need an Adventure Pass for parking. A Wilderness Permit is required and you can get the permit right at the trailhead.

The adventure begins with a mild walk through a shady canyon, the sound of the babbling brook sets the mind at ease. The area is filled with a mixture of oak, conifer, and deciduous trees. As I ambled along the easy path there were a couple cabins and ruins of others lost to either fire or flood in years gone by. The chilly air was fragrant with the scent of fallen decaying leaves that carpeted the forest floor. The surrounding ridge was alight with a golden glow as the morning sun has just reached it upon rising over the mountain. After a couple miles the trek picks up the pace from mild to difficult through switchback trail the remainder of the hike to Icehouse Saddle.

I have a post on my blog ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ Hiking and Backpacking 101 regarding Layering Your Clothing. This outing was an excellent example. My early hike began in cold temperatures, but by the time I headed up the steep switchbacks I was stripping off outer layers, but as I got higher I was more exposed to the high winds and I needed to layer up once again.

In late November there were portions of the trail covered in snow and ice. Not quite enough to need micro spikes as trekking poles and a little careful footwork would allow you to traverse these spots. If however you were going on to Ontario Peak or Cucamonga Peak, which would take you to more shaded parts of the mountains, they were still covered with snow from an earlier storm.

I had planned to just hike to the Icehouse Saddle, however once there I decided that there wasn’t much of a view at this wide spot that was heavily forested with fir, and I wasn’t quite ready for my adventure to come to an end. The Saddle is where five trails come together and I decided forge on to Timber Mountain.

As I approached the summit of Timber Mountain I had a wonderful panorama of the mountains to including Mt Baldy. I also enjoyed splendid views of the canyon as the wind whipped up through them chapping my lips. A magnificent area and a great hike to be sure. I will be back for some of the other hikes in this area.

When I saw the mountains the weight lifted and my restless spirt calmed… I knew I was where I belong.”

What a day! It pretty much checked all the boxes as far as ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. The fresh mountain air, stretching the legs, getting the heart pumping, gaining altitude attitude, getting away from it all, natural scenic beauty and panoramic views, the adventure of a hard hike, add a little snow and ice for a little extra something, solo time to reflect, soul soaring to be sure. I certainly feel a little more balance seep into my life after such an outing in nature, but it is not about the destination. It’s not about bagging that Peak and standing atop that summit posing with that sign, but the trek up and down that mountain, and to looking forward to that next adventure. Speaking of next adventure- stick with me there is more to come because it’s what? A journey, a pursuit for additional chances to balance that ledger of the everyday hetic, chaotic, sometimes mundane, work-a-day life with bold experiences in the great outdoors. Stick with me by doing each and everyone of these things: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. You can join the movement, wave the flag, and carry the banner by adorning yourself in ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ wear. Just go to SHOP APPAREL where you can find the long sleeve high performance shirt and beanie pictured in my summit shot and oh so much more. If you need ideas or inspiration on your own pursuit then go to the menu above where you will find the spots that PBTA travels to seeking that inner peace and to revel in nature. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

Wright Mountain via Acorn Trail

SHEEP MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS

WRIGHTWOOD, CA

Activity: Hiking, Peak Bagging

8.7 miles, altitude 8505′, 2365′ elevation change, 5+ hours duration, rated Hard

Date: 11-06-20

This hike begins at the top of a neighborhood in Wrightwood. There is a small parking area, from there you will walk through a portion of the neighborhood to the trailhead. While hiking on the Acorn Trail you will be trekking along a section of the Pacific Crest Trail.

The hike wanders through a beautiful pine forest decorated with some falls color to complement the evergreens. Wonderful views along the way and near the top. It is a steep trail up to the summit which stands at 8,505 feet above sea level. Near the summit there is no trail either follow your GPS or just head up, up, up through the woods. There is a clearing with an American Flag on a cliff where in the past there was a large landslide. This is not the summit, but has sweet views of nearby mountains and the valley below. The actual summit is the high point of the wooded area. Wright Mountain is a great hike and I highly recommend it.

I met a new Trail Friend and we hiked the mountain together, an Assistant Professor at a nearby Loma Linda University. My understanding of his class is that he teaches Nursing Students compassion, understanding, faith, and caring toward their patients. Very nice guy and an avid hiker and lover of nature. He confided in me while we gazed out over the valley below something very personal to him. He explained that this hike was a celebration, it was exactly 1 year ago on this day that he lost a special person to him, his father-in-law. Here is the crazy part, his father-in-law’s name is the same as mine, Roger, not exactly a common name, now-a-days.

Here is Wright Mt in the distance and the Asst. Professor on the summit of Wright Mt.

A short distance from the summit is a clearing with an American Flag where we met these two old timers, well experience on the mountain. But this guy seated on the old stump spooked me. The stump is sticking out over a cliff with a stiff breeze blowing toward the edge. Some years ago a large expanse of land gave way in a landslide right where he sits.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Natures peace will blow into you as sunshine flows into the trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away for you like the leaves of Autumn.” – John Muir

Thanks for joining me and my new trail friend the Asst. Prof from Loma Linda Univ. Fantastic day and it was nice to have someone to hike with. It was a windy day that would bring in a storm that night that dumped a several feet of snow where I stand. Please leave a COMMENT, LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW. I am wearing PBTA wear in the picture, get yours at SHOP APPAREL. The Menu above has inspirational hikes that are categorized by location, each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.

Happy Trails-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure