Friday, September 15, 2023

The Promised Land (Climbing Wall) - 9/14/23

The Climbing Wall known as The Promised Land

The wall is found in the alcove on the left.

Approaching the wash on Trail

The hike's cast of Characters (plus me!)
So, four of us arrived at the Willow Springs Picnic Area off the scenic loop of Red Rock Canyon NCA at MM7 around 7am. This area happens to be the coolest place off the scenic loop as we felt the southwest breeze come streaming through the Rocky Gap Road canyon. Hence, this is a good place to start a hike when everywhere else is either closed, crowded or plain too hot. 
    A couple of years ago, Rita and I decided to explore a seldom used old abandoned road that runs up between Rocky Gap Road and the La Madre Springs Road. Using Google Earth, it was clear that there might be an interesting alcove up into the cliffs there. What we found has become a fun new scramble hike to a little known climbing wall called The Promised Land. The route up to the base of the cliff starts about 3/4 of a mile up Rocky Gap Road from the parking area. We made a right turn between two white sandstone boulders onto a trail that connected with that old road. A left turn sent us up the gentle hill until we came to a fork. We took the right fork onto a trail that follows along the ridge to the left, up and over to skim a hill, then down along a trail until it shows you a good place to dip into the wash. The trail is well marked if you allow it to lead you. It has been recently well-maintained. Nice.

Snoopy's Nose at Sunrise

Climbing the wash Trail

Sean, Mike and Rita on the Rocks

Rita makes the final Climb
Once we were in the wash, the trail turns to the left and a constant class 2 scramble ensues. Take note of the fallen tree that you pass as soon as you begin the wash trail so that you will recognize where to exit the wash on the way back. The trail up the wash is clear with only a couple of easily answered question marks along the way. Suffice it to say that the trail stays in the wash on one side or another all the way up. A few landmarks include a big flat rock we call Janet's Rock since this is where Janet sat and waited for us to return one time; Twin Boulders, where the trail sidles between them; and, the Goat Sections, where the easiest way to climb up to the next level is to step along on top of narrow smaller boulders or rock ridges.

The Promised Land climbing Wall

View down from the Climbing Wall

The Descent Rope

At the base of the Wall
As the wash enters into the canyon with the climbing wall, you might see the cave up on the right. We have visited the alcove a few times in the past but decided to skip it on this hike. It is a somewhat brushy approach. Passing the cave, the wash comes to a dead end where a tributary comes in from the left and a trail climbs out to the right. Ignore the trail! Turn left into the secondary wash and very soon, there is a cairned turn to the right. This is the way to the climbing wall! Follow the trail and the remainder of the main wash climbing up the hill. We arrived at the base of the cliff for a break. To our east side, we saw that a climbers' descent rope is hanging and appears at this time to be useful. The view from the cliff base out to the White Rock Hills is beautiful. We rested for a few minutes then, oops, noticed a dark cloud peeking up over the La Madre ridgeline. Hmm. We thought that maybe we should get going even though no rain had been forecasted for this area.

Descending the wash Trail

Rita watches the sky at Janet's Rock

Downhill Scramble

The Trail through Twin Boulders
The descent scramble was easily followed as we returned the same way we came but, about halfway down the wash, we jumped out of our boots when a loud thunder pierced the air. When we looked back, the dark cloud had grown much larger and did not seem satisfied to stay behind the La Madre ridge. It was coming our way! Counted sprinkles alit loudly on our hats. No more thunder - (it was a "One Thunder-clap Wonder") - but, by the time we returned to Rocky Gap Road, it was raining lightly - then harder - then a bonnified "steady rain." We stopped trying to out run the wetness and simply hiked down the last 3/4 of a mile in the rain. Once you give in to the rain, the hike becomes easier! What a great morning! (As we drove out, we saw that the rain was happening all along the escarpment. You never know what the weather will be around here!)

Stats: 4.6 miles; 1500' gain; 4.25 hours

Almost to the exit Junction (Landmark Tree over wash.)

One Thunder clap and lots of rain coming our Way

Finishing the last Mile in the Rain

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