Double Butte P900
Domenigoni Mountains HP
Rawson Mountains HP P500
Sedco Hills HP P900

Sat, Nov 22, 2014
Etymology
Sedco Hills HP
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 Profiles: 1 2 3 4

Continued...

Today's agenda included a handful of summits south of the Inland Empire, a primarily agricultural area of upland hills and valleys tucked between the Santa Ana Mtns to the west and the San Jacinto Mtns to the east. Two are considered range highpoints because someone saw fit to call a small group of hills "mountains", while the other two are P900s that I have been collecting throughout the state.

Double Butte

The western butte is the higher of the two main buttes that comprise this small collection of hills just south of Homeland along SR74. The western butte itself is composed of two closely-spaced summits with the lower north summit featuring some communication towers. A very rough road leads to the towers from the northwest which can be accessed from Briggs Rd behind a newer development just off the road. A use trail leads from the saddle between the two western summits to the highpoint at the south end. The hike is less than a mile and half one-way with 1,000ft of gain. It appears that the land is privately owned, but there are no fences and no No Trespassing signs, just a lonely For Sale sign found shortly after starting up the road.

Domenigoni Mountains HP

This small range is found bordering Diamond Valley Lake to the north. The lake itself is an impressive bit of civil engineering, featuring earthern dams on three sides. The reservoir holds an immense amount of water with a 20mi-long perimeter road that can be hiked or, more often, biked. The main entrance is found on the east side below the dam, with a nice museum, picnicking and boat launch facilities. On the west end is a gated access road to a view site that is several miles closer to the range highpoint. I arrived at this gate shortly before 8a, only to find a crotchety old guard who was none too friendly in telling me they don't open until 8:30a. I waited patiently to the side until the appointed hour, at which time the guard, having mellowed some - perhaps having had his morning coffee - checked my ID and let me through to the viewspot access road. I didn't actually drive to the viewspot as I found a gated fork of the road with a "Trail" sign a bit closer to where I wanted to go. I parked off the side so as not to block the gate, though there were no parking spots and I wasn't sure they'd like me leaving a vehicle here. I was happy to find it unmolested when I returned.

The first part of the perimeter road that I followed was paved, a very wide, well-manicured road that seemed entirely too much for what was asked of it now that the reservoir was completed. It led to a large concrete facility, purpose unclear but possibly a pump station, with a nearby picnic rest area. A sign indicated the next rest area was 5mi to the east or 15mi to the west. I think this meant that there was only one other picnic site located at the east entrance which could be reached by going either way around the lake. Beyond this, the road led to the northside dam with the trail/road going over the top along its length. There were dozens of small orange-colored reflectors mounted on concrete pillars along the dam and down its north embankment. These were all aimed in the direction of a glass-enclosed structure sitting atop a small knoll, presumeably a high-tech way to monitor the dam for earth movement. As I was crossing along the top of the dam I noted several boats of fishermen below, trying their luck. Overhead a firefighting helicopter came up from the lowlands to the north, practicing manuevers at various location around the reservoir, dipping down to suck up water, flying off, returning to another spot and repeating, spending perhaps half an hour before flying off for good. At the east end of the dam the road becomes gravel/dirt, following the contour of the hills as it makes its way above the water towards the east entrance station. A spur road is encountered south of the highpoint, a convenient route to the top. Some solar panels and small instruments are found here, otherwise nothing of note. I was unable to find the register that Richard Carey had reported leaving here. It appears to be a somewhat popular side trip for cyclists with a fine view overlooking the reservoir and the Rawson Mountains behind it. On a clear day (and this was one of those), the San Bernardino Mtns can be seen far to the north with San Jacinto closer to the east. The hills are dry, rocky and mostly barren with only modest vegetation. I decided to follow the crest of the range back west, forgoing the use of the road except where needed to cross the dam. At the west end, just above the picnic area were a curious collection of a few pine trees, a few palm trees and a lone juniper. It appears there used to be a homesite here at one time but only the trees and the large flattened area remain. In all I spent less than 2hrs on the roundtrip excursion in the Domenigoni Mountains. I waved to the guard as I passed through his station a second time and was on my way to the next stop. He seemed much friendlier now.

Rawson Mountains HP

The Rawson Mountains line Diamond Valley Lake on the southern side and appear a much more range-like group of mountains than the Domenigoni Mtns. There are two highpoints to the range marked with spot elevations of 2,672ft and 2,671ft. When Mark Adrian and Richard Carey visited them they surveyed the southern 2671 point to be higher than the other by a few inches. That seems a little too precise considering the summit rocks are surrounded by brush and not easily pinpointed. I'm inclined to believe the USGS surveyors with more accurate instrumentation, but it is suggested to visit both "just to be sure." The summits can be reached from either the north or south. The northern approach uses the 20mi perimeter bike/hike path around Diamond Valley Lake, then cross-country up moderately brushy slopes. Evan Rasmussen used this route when he visited a few days before my own visit. I chose the easier route up from Crown Valley to the south. This route appears to involve trespassing though I didn't pass through any No Trespassing signs along the way. The area can be accessed by a rough, washboarded dirt road off State St south of Hemet (the east side of Diamond Valley Lake) or a longer paved route from the south, De Portola Rd. Crown Valley Rd, decent dirt that any car can navigate, forks off from De Portola Rd. This can be followed through Crown Valley into Rawson Canyon but I chose to park in Crown Valley where the road appeared to get a bit rough for my low clearance van. I hiked the road into Rawson Canyon, turning north at a junction where the uphill starts. A mile after this junction an olive ranch is encountered on the right, clearly visible in the satellite views. It appears to be an individual enterprise, but the home is definitely occupied. So far, no gates or signs indicating I'm trespassing, but I don't feel good about it anyway as I keep expecting someone to come out and ask what I'm doing there. Just past this is a second, much older homestead. Before reaching it I turned right onto a spur heading north, crossing an unsigned gate. There are no signs that this road has been used in many years so it seems safe beyond this point, other than the road is open to view from the olive ranch to the right as the road climbs gains elevation.

This road climbs higher, eventually making its way to the saddle between the two summits, and higher still to a knoll just west of the southern highpoint. I bypassed the last mile of this road with a shortcut sidehilling around the east side of Pt. 2,646ft, then modest brush up the SW Ridge to the southern summit, Pt. 2,671ft. It took just short of an hour to reach this point. I found the year-old Adrian/Carey without any trouble in a small clump of rocks. Mark McCormick was the only other signature, about a week after the others. Thankfully the brush between the two summits was not difficult and I managed to get from one to the other in less than 15min. The north summit offers a better view of Diamond Valley Lake, but otherwise has much the same scenery as the south summit. A second register found here had the same signatures as the first one. Oddly, Evan had reported finding neither register though he clearly climbed the same two bumps. Each summit has several collections of rocks that might be the highest and it appears he just didn't make a thorough search (though I found both to be somewhat obvious and easy to find). It was after 1p before I made my way back to the van, still seeing and encountering no one along the way. I made a brief effort on my exit to find a route to nearby Black Mtn (higher than the other two summits and arguably part of the Rawson Mountains), and though I identified the rough, dirt Black Mtn Rd, it did not go to the summit which looked to involve more serious bushwhacking. I was not in the mood for such an effort, and drove out via the southern route along De Portola Rd.

Sedco Hills HP

This small collection of hills is located east of Lake Elsinore and Interstate 15, near the community of the same name. The hills have seen a good deal of suburban encroachment, particularly to the north in Cottonwood Canyon. 4WD with sufficient clearance can drive within 1/4mi of the summit from the north via Lost Rd and Crooked Arrow Rd. A gate bars vehicle traffic to the lower east summit where a communications tower is located. The road continues west from the tower to the very summit. There do not appear to be trespassing issues in reaching the highpoint. I made the mistake of approaching from the SW at the Bundy Canyon Rd exit off I-15. I found Lost Rd, but didn't realize I could have driven further towards the summit. Still, I was less than 1.5mi from the summit and found the walk easy enough. Hiking Lost Rd is mundane and prone to dogs barking. One retiree home (with requisite large motorhome in yard) had upwards of a dozen dogs that made such a racket I couldn't have heard myself speak. Weak commands to quiet down from the owners inside were paid no heed. The homes here are more scattered and eclectic than your typical suburban development. Another home had hundreds of palm trees and other tropical plants to give this desert environ a jungle-like atmosphere - complete with a large parrot in a cage out front, just visible through the forest. The last house on my journey had three very scary-looking dogs, any one of which could have eaten me in seconds. They barked and drooled menacingly but made no real effort to breach the fence separating us. Thank goodness for strong fences. Rather than continue on the road in the roundabout fashion to the summit, I struck off cross-country directly up the north side which though steep, did not have sufficient brush to be of much concern. A benchmark found at the summit was badly beaten - it's curious that this is often the case on easy-to-reach summits. Why do folks feel a need to agressively attack a benchmark? The views are nice, but not outstanding, overlooking the communities south of Lake Elsinore. In all I spent less than an hour to reach the summit and return.

I held out some hope that I might be able to pay a visit to Miller Mtn with the last hour of daylight remaining. I got lost on the backroads of Murrieta somehow and never made it to Tenaja Rd before the sun was ready to sink. Better to leave it for the next day when I would have more time (a good thing too, because I would not have been able to get back before dark, as it turns out, even if I hadn't made the unneeded detours).

Continued...


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