On a cold Sunday morning, 10 March, Uwe and I drove to Ranchita seeking the trailhead for Ysidro. We tried a couple roads w/o success so decided to park alongside the road as Jack and I did a few weeks ago. We stepped off about 0800 in 32 degree temp. We passed by BM Bonny and the Chimney on our way to BM White. We went around it and descended into the valley seeking BM Goat.
Distances in the desert are deceiving as there are multiple hidden ridges, deep canyons, washes, and other obstacles to overcome. Typical desert hiking where no trails exist involves steep inclines, rocks, brush, and cactus. The beauty of the desert is the rocks. Huge boulders are jumbled together in formations that are sometimes not negotiable. There is always vegetation around the rocks. The cactus: cholla seems like it jumps from the branches onto your clothes or into your skin and hangs on. With fishhook type ends, the spines enter your flesh and don’t want to let go. Yucca cactus with their needle sharp points can penetrate anything, including boots. As you pass by, they tend to jab you in the legs. They often hide amongst other brush inflicting punctures to the unwary! The brush: catclaw…like the word says, the thorns are curved like a cat’s claws and they hook clothes and skin and hang on. The more your struggle to free yourself from their grip, the tighter they dig in. These plants are a must avoid or you will leave blood on the mountain. Manzanita, chaparral, desert almond…all either foot tangling or too dense to pass through. The terrain is either up or down causing deep channels for the water to flow. Over the years, these channels become canyons and flash floods cause lots of erosion. The debris creates bottlenecks in the channels or rocks will be too steep to go over. So, there is no routine or normal route to get from place to place. You pick your route and when you arrive at an impassable spot, turn around and go back until you find a way around.
That’s what we did. We finally arrived at benchmark Goat after 2.5 hours on trail. We had to descend at least 1,000 feet into the valley. On the way to Ysidro, we followed some of the same route we did in 2015 when we captured East Ysidro and other BMs. We angled up and over and climbed probably 2,000 feet from the valley. Very little of it was easy. Hiking poles were absolutely essential. Sometimes they got in the way as we negotiated rocks but most often they were a huge help on the steep climbs. Eventually we arrived at Ysidro to find the sign-in box on top of a big rock. One side of the rock was covered in ice and the other was covered with brush. I had to get on my belly and inch my way up. On the way, the rocks holding the box down fell off. No way did I move that rock so what caused the rocks to fall? We suspected it was ghosts!! When I finally got up there, I found the box on top of a small depression full of ice. The sun was warming the box and ice causing it to melt and eventually the box tilted and rocks fell. The register indicated someone had been there earlier that day.
We were not looking forward to the descent as it would mean more bushwhacking and cross country through some private property which is not a good thing. But, we knew someone had been there before us and Uwe saw their footprints below. We decided to follow. Their route took us straight down, right of The Thimble, into a canyon and out near a road that goes to the private property we were trying to avoid. We decided to follow that road away from the property and found the trailhead we had been seeking earlier. Having had our fill of bushwhacking and slow crawl over the rough terrain, we were able to quickly hike to the paved road and found the truck.
Overall stats were 11.5 miles, 3,400 feet of gain, time of 7.5 hours. My legs didn’t hurt afterwards but I was really tired. Needless to say, I slept well last night.
Those two put me at 49 of the 100 San Diego County peaks. Looking forward to completing that list before I turn 80. Thanks for the support Jack and Uwe.
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