Exploring San Javier Canyon was a blast, such fun that we couldn't wait to check out some of the other canyons that drain from the Sierra de la Giganta. One area we'd read about was Tabor Canyon, conveniently located 5 minutes from where we were camped. So, we woke early one day, drove the dirt road towards the huge mountains, parked in the shade and were on our way into another impressive canyon.
If we thought San Javier had big boulders and some tricky scrambling, Tabor Canyon had much to show us. The first 10 minutes of the hike is pretty straightforward, just follow the path of least resistance. We arrived at a pool bounded by big, steep walls, unsure of which way most people proceed. Jillian found what I would call a "goat path" in Alaska, and I followed her.
And then we came to the first of several "hole in the wall" climbs. The first was easy enough - climb up below the large rock pinned between the wall and other boulders. Then came the crux of the hike. At first it appeared an impasse. But I had read about this (albeit a played-down version of the challenge involved), so I proposed that we give it a go. Poking our way through a vertical cavern, we found a shoddy old rope - worn nylon - suggesting that we climb this chimney. Then slither under the giant rock to get to the ledge that you know you need to be on, if only you could reach it. Climb the weather-worn log that some thoughtful soul propped up vertically, remembering not to look down at the 50 foot void below you, and, just like that, you'll unlock the middle section of Tabor Canyon.
Upon rounding our first corner above the crux, I heard Jillian exclaim, "This is the most beautiful place I've ever been!" Whether it was relief-induced or genuine elation was irrelevant because this view was indeed something very special. Of course, pictures never do a place like this justice, but I included a few for posterity.
We came to a series of pools, stair-stepping their way up the canyon as we climbed and took advantage of a large boulder on the upper rim to enjoy a break. Looking out over Loreto Bay and the snaking canyon we had thus far climbed, we toasted to this beautiful canyon adventure we had all to ourselves. Tiny frogs swam in the pools and Scorpionweed, a brilliant desert flower, bloomed in shaded crevices.
Still we climbed, and still we were amazed. Until at last we came to a fork in the stream - one side cascading from beneath house-sized boulders, the other a steep water slide through smooth red rock. I climbed the water slide to the base of a vertical pitch of crumbly rock. Previous groups had leaned the trunk of a palm tree at a 50 degree angle to climb and overcome this pitch, but, feeling quite satisfied with our progress, we opted to take in the peaceful sounds of waterfalls and the cool shade of a deeply-incised canyon.
The hike back down to the car still required overcoming a few route-finding challenges, as we frequently found ourselves atop massive boulders wondering how the heck we got above them. Mid-afternoon back at the car, we headed in to Loreto to treat ourselves to a fun night in town, visiting some local establishments and splurging on a $40 hotel.