The road in front of our vehicle had grown coarse as the pavement turned into dirt and gravel. The car shook from the thousands of small bumps that were rolled over with my friend’s tires, and my attention had left the map navigation on my cellphone for the towering mountains that emerged into view.
I managed to lower the windows and stick my phone out in order to take several photos. I gazed up at the various arrays of red and turquoise rock that appeared like etchings in the Painted Canyon. I couldn’t tell at that point if the gorgeous view had distracted me from the vibration of the car or if the road had gotten smoother. And when we finally reached the edge of the canyon and parked the car, my phone was flooded with images of nature in one of her most majestic of forms.
Four hours were spent hiking through the colored rock that sat just behind the town of Mecca. We climbed wooden and metal ladders left lying up against the hills and stood on top of high cliffs as we gawked at the elevated beauty. I let my hand run over the patterned formations and stippled grooves upon descending from the tall hills back into the canyon, and I attempted to imagine watching the entire span of the erosion of rock that had given the hills their shape over millions of years.
This place, which sat along the San Andreas Fault and in between the desert and the Salton Sea, was a quiet splendor that subtly called for reverence and humbleness amongst its monumental walls of earth. It was as if the hills provided their own version of spiritual pilgrimage for hikers and other nature-lovers.