Peak 3,572ft P300
Gray Mountain P300
Round Mountain P300
Jacumba Peak

Sat, Mar 24, 2018

With: Matt Yaussi

Etymology
Gray Mountain
Round Mountain
Jacumba Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPXs: 1 2 3 4 Profiles: 1 2 3 4

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Matt and I were camped off Old Hwy 80 in the southeast corner San Diego County, less than a mile from the border with Mexico. We had a brief visit from the Border Patrol in the evening, checking up on what we were doing there (camping) and what are plans were (hiking the next day). I had to be in San Diego in the early afternoon to join up with family, giving me half a day to tag a small handful of easy summits around the Jacumba area. I had picked them all out a few days earlier from the PB website, most of them from Mike Sullivan's TRs. After yesterday's mixed weather of clouds in the morning and sunshine in the afternoon, the clouds had returned and would hang about for the morning's hikes.

Peak 3,572ft

This is the closest summit in California to the Mexican border, less than a few hundred yards. It was conveniently located directly above from where we'd camped, so when we started out around 6:30a, we had simply to lock up our cars and start hiking uphill, a distance of about half a mile. The rounded peak has about 400ft of prominence, partially lying within Mexico though the highpoint is in the US. As is usual near the border, there is plenty of discarded trash from folks sneaking over from Mexico and we counted more than a dozen gallon jugs of water left by angels to help the thirsty during their ordeal. Near the top, Matt spotted a pair of wild horse which turned out to be five, all told. They seemed only mildly skittish and after deciding we weren't a threat, mostly went back to grazing while keeping one eye on us. To the east of the summit lies a large solar array on the US side while to the west is the Jacumba Valley and the small border town of Jacumba, without a border crossing. A 15-foot rusting steel wall runs across the valleys on both sides of the peak and partially across the top, as well. There are obvious gaps just down from the saddle which suggests the wall is designed to keep out vehicles but not really people. There is a large padlocked iron gate at the saddle with one of the border monuments found on the other side. I thought we might draw the attention of the border agents once again, but if we did, no one was sent out to check on us.

Gray Mountain

This summit lies on the north side of Interstate 8, near the Jacumba exit at the north end of Jacumba Valley. There are several service stations and a Subway here, with lots of parking available. We parked on the south side where more than a dozen other cars were similarly left, then walked under the freeway overpass before starting up to Gray Mtn, a 900-foot climb in a little more than half a mile. There is a good deal of cactus on the lower slopes of the mountain, requiring lots of bobbing and weaving, but not so bad as to be a real nuisance. The gray skies seemed to go with the name of the mountain and when we got to the rocky top we found views hazy and poor, for the most part. There was a register from 2007 at the summit, actually a terracache, mostly filled with names I didn't recognize, though I did note Mike's entry and another from the Monday Maniacs.

Round Mountain

This small summit is found a mile west of the same freeway exit we used for Gray Mtn. We drove Matt's Suburu about half of that distance down the dead-end dirt road that leads to the nudist colony on the north side of the freeway. Our summit was on the south side of the freeway, so we simply parked at a dirt wash off the main road and hiked the half mile distance from there. Half of this is across the somewhat brushy flats of Jacumba Valley, then a crossing of the abandoned San Diego and Arizona Eastern railroad, the same tracks that continue north through the Carrizo Gorge. The south slope is an easier gradient, but we took more direct routes going up and down the east side where the slope is quite steep but with decent footing. There was a tattered flag flying at the north end overlooking the freeway with the highpoint found a short distance to the south. This, too, had a register, but it was just a bunch of loose scraps and we didn't bother to examine the contents or leave an entry. I think we picked the steepest possible descent route without actually going down cliffs. All good fun.

Jacumba Peak

This was the easiest of the bunch and in some ways the most interesting. It is not to be confused with the more famous DPS summit of Jacumba Mountain which is some miles to the north. Jacumba Peak is a small, unassuming hill on the north side of Jacumba, which used to be a stop for the San Diego & Arizona Eastern RR. There are almost a dozen old rail cars left alongside the tracks near where we parked. Some of them are within a fence No Trespassing area that includes the old depot, but the very old wooden passenger cars can be examined up-close on the opposite side of the road. There is a dirt road (gated, no vehicles) that leads to a powerline road which then leads to the summit in an easy mile. The summit has an old, portable platform with a single chair on a swivel that looks to have been manned at one time for spotting do-badders coming across the border. Old cloth "blinds" are now tattered, hanging from the frame, perhaps used to conceal whether the booth was occupied or not. Evidently the Border Patrol has found more effective ways to monitor illegal traffic. The sun was out by now, providing us with better views of the surrounding mountain desert landscape. Our descent route was more interesting than the roadway, directly off the South Ridge and back across the railroad tracks to the wash where we'd parked.

We drove back to the freeway exit where we'd left the van and parted ways, myself to San Diego, Matt to further explore the Carrizo Gorge area within Anza-Borrego State Park. I'd gotten used to having my friends leave me at various times to continue desert trips on my own - I think this was the first time that I've been the departing party, and I kinda missed having to leave after 10 days of desert fun...

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