Gizmo has informed us he’s done with mountains and has moved on to hiking slot canyons.
Today we drove back out to the Painted Canyon in the Mecca Hills. We wanted to try to find the San Andreas fault that is visible in this area. We are not sure we actually found it, but we think we did. The fault goes through here and helped create the Painted Canyon. Our next objective was to find “Big Split Rock” slot canyon. The directions said to park 1/4 mile before the parking lot to the Painted Canyon hike that we took two days ago. This area is dog friendly and has no ladders so we figured it would be a good outing for Gizmo. The online article we read said it could be difficult for big dogs to negotiate the slots but small active dogs would have a blast. We found a place to pull off the side of the road on the right 1/4 mile before the end of the Painted Canyon road (parking lot). We headed into the obvious canyon to the right. The directions we read said to go about 0.3 miles to where the canyon splits. Take the canyon to the left. In this area you will see parallel canyons, again, take the one to the left. We passed a small canyon to our left that we decided we could explore on our return trip. We hiked about 0.5 miles down this slot canyon until the canyon narrowed so much that it was hard to navigate. Gizmo and I probably could have made it if I had crawled under some boulders through a narrow opening but I wasn’t sure John would make it. I have to admit, I am not claustrophobic, but the narrow canyon combined with precariously hanging rocks above my head had me a bit nervous. I could only imagine one of these boulders coming loose and tumbling into the canyon on top of us like in the book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place.” We concluded we were as close to the end of this slot as we were going to get and turned around to come out.
Gizmo had a blast here. He loved scrambling over and around rocks in the narrow slots. That combined with soft beach like sand between his toes and shade provided by the canyon walls made a great off leash hike for him. We spent about 1-hour exploring this and one small side canyon off this one. Gizmo was prancing like a puppy when we headed back to the car. This is one of the best hikes he has had since we left home. He has not enjoyed desert hiking that much because of the lack of shade. He is used to hiking in the woods in New England where you typically only get exposure to direct sunlight at the top. We are returning to this area next week to explore the canyon to the right. It is great to have a place less than 1-hour from our campground where Gizmo can enjoy being outside, off leash, and hike with a bit of shade.