Welllllllllllllll, it appears I should take my own advice.
I took a look at the original photos and realized there were 34 stitches. Eek! I was getting a base row to put the ladder stitch into, and I think I just read the first line of 34. Um, yeah. If I had continued to read I would have noticed that the next row is HDCs to end with 32 stitches. I am so sorry!!
Hopefully this post will make it up to you. I have done the paranoid quadruple check of stitches - 32! Here is the first row of the ladder stitch. The pattern ends with 2 SC, and you should have two stitches left. Do a SC in each of them, and your row ends with 4 SC.
Here is a super close shot of the end of the first ladder row...
and with the ch 1 added.
To start the next row, go into the next stitch to the left of the hook (marked in green)
I was wrong before; the pattern doesn't stack on top of itself but staggers instead. In other words, on the next row you will SC into the chain stitches of the previous row rather than the SC.
I hope this helps, and I feel so
bad that I might be responsible for part of your frustration.
I promise not to frog this sample until you have it. It's too bad there's not a nice clear photo of the scarf. Sometimes if I'm off that can tell me where. You always have the option of creating your own row, so long as it has 32 stitches so your next pattern has the correct base. If you have eight spaces - so be it! The crochet police won't come to your house, and it's perfectly OK to alter the pattern.