Wed, Apr 20, 2022
I was camped in the Laguna Mtns of San Diego County. Tom would be joining me mid-morning after dropping Iris off at the San Diego airport for a business trip. I would have time for a few easy summits in the area before Tom arrived and we got to the bigger business of Peak 6,260ft. It would be a pretty gruelling effort, but we would still have time in the afternoon for a few easier ones.
I had attempted this hike the previous afternoon, but had made a grave route-finding error and run out of time. Armed with recent memories and a better understanding of the route, I figured we'd be able to knock this one off in much better fashion today. I was still under-appreciating the effort it would require, especially for the last mile as the trail disappears and the serious bushwhacking would take over. Starting at 9:20a, the first hour would go much as expected - along the PCT for half a mile, across a property boundary at a water fountain, along an old firebreak, and then onto an overgrown trail. By 9:30a we had retraced all the route I had managed the previous evening, leaving us about a mile to go. Ducks take over where the trail becomes unclear, but these only last for another 20min or so, giving out near Pt. 6,190ft. Then the heavy work begins through thick brush with no clear idea where to go. On a prevous visit to the nearby Sawtooth Mtns WHP back in 2018, I had assumed the ducked route would continue to Peak 6,260ft. Not so. We found no sign of trail, duck or humans over the last hour it would take us. It was nice to have a companion along, as two brains made better decisions than one. We would swap leads through the brush, with the leader reaching a nasty wall of impenetrable stuff, then deferring to the other who had veered off on a slightly more promising angle. Sometimes we would pause to consider options and postulate about the terrain ahead, pointing out some useful feature or vaguely waving in one direction or another. Mostly these sessions would serve to give us a short rest before plunging back into the thickets.
It was 12p when we finally reached the outcrop indicated on PB and LoJ as the highpoint. It is the western of two small closed contours indicated on the topo map. We noticed that the Mike Sullivan GPX track we had (that served no value once the bushwhacking began) went over both points. We did some crude surveying that suggested the eastern point might be higher, and though we didn't really feel like it, we trudged over to the other point anyway. It turned out to be easier than it had looked, taking only five minutes, and it had a far better summit block that goes at stiff class 3. We liked this one much better and decided to leave a register on top. There are some lovely desert views to be had from the summit, but we were a bit too worked out from the bushwhacking to fully appreciate them. After a stay of about 10min, we started back, taking a different route for about half of the bushwhacking, but finding it no better than the ascent route. Once we got back to the ducked section, things improved, and once on the trail, it got better still. It would be 2:40p by the time we got back to the Jeep, having spent almost five and half hours on the effort. It was but six miles total with less than 1,500ft of gain - but a toughie, this one. Later, I would see that John Strauch and six others from the Monday Maniacs had taken 9hrs for the same hike back in 2015. In 2016, Michael Sullivan and Eric Su had made a large loop that included the Wilderness HP and all the spot elevations found enroute, so props for an even bigger undertaking.
This page last updated: Tue May 10 15:57:36 2022
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