Sunday, October 16, 2016

Monument Peak and Hays Peak

Hiked: 10/14/2016
Distance: 3.5 miles round trip on trail and use trail
Summit Elevation: 6271' (Monument), 6160' (Hayes)
Elevation Gain: 750'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.6
Round trip time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Recommended water: 20 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Sunrise Highway (S1)
Difficulty: Easy

The day started with Garnet Peak, Garnet Mountain, and Roost Benchmark. I completed those in time for another short hike, but hadn't prepared for one. The Peakbagger android mobile app came to the rescue. I knew Monument Peak (SDC #2) was along Sunrise Highway, but didn't know the distance or where to start. I found the peak in the mobile app, checked a trip report that was less than 4 miles, and downloaded the attached GPS track to my phone. The app tracked my location in real time allowing me to locate the trailhead, just the way John Muir used to do it (haha). This is the reason I upload my own tracks, hoping they will be useful to future hikers.

I parked at the Big Laguna Trail turnout where one other car was already parked. The lot could have held at least 6 cars. The single track heads into verdure meadows with large Jeffrey pines and black oaks. The oaks were showing off some bright yellow color. In less than a mile, the trail intersects the PCT, with the left branch heading toward Monument Peak and the right toward Stephenson Peak. I went left and walked past an older couple sitting about 50 feet off trail enjoying the scene. At a sharp left turn, just after catching a glimpse of the towers on Monument Peak, an unsigned and narrow use trail cuts directly up the slope. It deposits you at a laser research building, and I took the road the rest of the way. Along the short section of road, on the right, was a black cylinder with a warning sign "DANGER: Laser Target". I didn't go in for a closer inspection.


Pines and oaks

Monument Peak ahead

Fence around the laser research station


The view from Monument Peak was great, but not quite as dramatic as Garnet Peak and Roost. Looking north, there is a unique view of the transition from forest to desert. I found the spike-style benchmark and register cans, replacing the torn plastic baggie around the registers with a new one. Hays Peak was back the direction I came up a wide firebreak. On the way back, I stopped at the use trail junction and checked the time. I had enough time to tag Hays Peak so I continued straight up the firebreak. There was a good use trail on the firebreak and within minutes I was on top of Hays. There were no benchmarks or ornaments on Hays, but I could see the PCT carved out below. I returned down the firebreak to a point where the brush had been cut down. I turned right and followed the brush line down to the PCT, then back to the start. I ended the day with 5 peaks (4 SDC) and 14.9 miles, not a bad day.

Monument benchmark

Zoomed in to Stephenson Peak

Nearby Hays Peak

Transition zone from forest to desert

Looking southeast

Monument Peak from Hays Peak

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Roost Benchmark

Hiked: 10/14/2016
Distance: 8 miles round trip on trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 4351'
Elevation Gain: 2200'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.76
Round trip time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Recommended water: 68 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Sunrise Highway (S1)
Difficulty: Moderate

After completing Garnet Peak and Garnet Mountain, I was warmed up and ready for Roost Benchmark (SDC #44). Roost was meatier than the Garnets, featuring a canyon profile (descent first, ascent on return) and some class 2 to reach the summit. I parked at the Lucky 5 Ranch gate and crossed the highway to the starting gate. From there, you can see the top of Roost, lower and in the distance. It is a winding route to get to it. The first part of the trail is a dirt road. After a short rise, it starts dropping. As it started to descend, I noticed a memorial on the right side of the trail to John Michael Farawell, complete with worn out hiking boots. According to the sign, his lifespan was only 24 years. It's sad to think he only made it to 24, but someone built him a nice memorial. I couldn't find any details online. Just past the first switchback, the road split, and the one heading toward Roost (left) became somewhat overgrown. It didn't require bushwhacking, more like bush dodging as it descended into Oriflamme Canyon. There was a fallen tree near the bottom that required a bypass. Most of the elevation change is spent descending into and climbing out of Oriflamme Canyon. Even though you can see the elevated road cut of S1 from most points along the way, I got a feeling of isolation. About half way, there is a buried water tank next to some odd looking posts. In fact, there were several water troughs in the area, presumably for unseen cattle. There were also a lot of deer prints and coyote scat along the trail.

Start gate

Michael John Farawell memorial and boots

Road split

No comment

Roost peeking out above the rolling hills, dwarfed by Granite Mountain

Tree obstacle

Buried water tank and wooden posts

The trail rolls gently up and down after it climbs out of Oriflamme Canyon until it dies out. Roost is not visible for most of the hike. If you follow the road all the way, as I did, Roost might be hidden by the intervening bump. I veered east to a saddle where Roost came into view. When I got to the first bump, I sidehilled around it, though I think going over it is easier. I picked my way up class 2 boulders to the summit of Roost, a perfect perch above Mason Valley. I found a benchmark on the summit as well as a lightly filled register book going back to 2011. Roost seemed to be far less popular than the Garnets. The summit views were exceptional and I hung around a while taking in the desert grandeur. The return was uneventful.

Roost is the bump on the right

Approaching Roost

Class 2 ascent

Roost BM summit and register cans, Whale Peak in the distance

Massive Granite Mountain

Triangulation benchmark

Mason Valley, Storm Canyon coming in the from the right

Craig Barlow in the register

Garnet Mountain

Hiked: 10/14/2016
Distance: 1 mile round trip on trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 5680'
Elevation Gain: 200'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.16
Round trip time: 25 minutes
Recommended water: 0 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Sunrise Highway (S1)
Difficulty: Easy

Just up the road from Garnet Peak, and just off the road is Garnet Mountain (#14). I am puzzled by it being on the San Diego list since there are several more interesting bumps along Sunrise Highway. I parked at a turnaround by a PCT crossing. I made the mistake of starting up the PCT, when the closest approach is an unsigned dirt road starting at a dented gate. It was obvious soon enough that I was going the wrong way, and I returned to the start to take the road. It was less than a half mile to the saddle, then some light bushwhacking to the summit. Standard red cans held the overflowing registers. I was even more mystified by this peak selection since the summit views were not as good as Garnet Peak. It was 25 minutes car to car, even counting my starting mistake. Not much to say about this one.

Correct starting gate, Garnet Mountain is the bump on the left

Start of the short bushwhack

Summit and register cans

Looking down at the 4Runner and up to Garnet Peak

Friday, October 14, 2016

Garnet Peak

Hiked: 10/14/2016
Distance: 2.4 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 5880'
Elevation Gain: 540'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.43
Round trip time: 1 hour
Recommended water: 16 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Sunrise Highway (S1)
Difficulty: Easy

The agenda was to bag San Diego Sierra Club peaks along Sunrise Highway. There are several short, easy hikes in this area and Garnet Peak (#9) was up first. I tried to time it so that I was on the summit at sunrise. I would have been on top before sunrise except I drove past the trailhead in the dark. It is a small turnout on the north side of the road. Once I parked, it was light enough to start without a headlamp. The trail is a dirt road to start, narrowing to a single track before ending at a nice summit area overlooking the Anza-Borrego desert. The view from the summit is definitely worth the minimal effort, explaining the nearly full register books jammed into the standard pair of red cans. I poked around for a benchmark without luck. I didn't really feel like resting after such a short ascent, so after taking some pictures, I headed back.

Trail start

Garnet Peak ahead

Orangey sky at the summit

Desert view

Glowing mountains

Looking into the drainage from Storm Canyon

Good morning, Anza-Borrego


Saturday, October 8, 2016

LC2 BM and Moro Ridge BM

Hiked: 10/8/2016
Distance: 7.8 miles round trip on trail
Summit Elevation: 912' (LC2), 1013' (Moro)
Elevation Gain: 1300'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.04
Round trip time: 2 hours
Recommended water: 32 oz.
Parking/Fees: $3 OC Parks
Difficulty: Easy

I thought I had exhausted all the OC peaklets in the San Joaquin Hills, at least ones with benchmarks, but a scan of the peakbagger map showed otherwise. Patrick Vaughn added Moro Ridge Benchmark to the database this year, marked on the topo with an X at 1013'. I planned a jog along Bommer Ridge to get it, and to check out another X at 912' near the south end of the ridge. Neither of these marks appear in the downloadable OC Geodetic Survey.

I parked at the Big Bend staging area on Laguna Canyon Road. The parking lot has a portable restroom and plenty of parking. I packed light: two bottles of water, a couple of bandaids, and regular running shoes. I started south, planning to use Laguna Ridge trail. However, it was closed for some reason so I turned right up the Big Bend trail. Most of the gain comes in three sections of this trail before it hits Bommer Ridge. Once on the ridge, I turned left (south) and started jogging toward the first peaklet at 912'. The ridge is wide, smooth, and mostly rock free. Easy going for both people and bikes. It was a quick trip to 912' where I found an OC benchmark stamped "LC2", presumably Laguna Canyon 2. The area looked like it had undergone a controlled burn. Without delay, I headed back north along the ridge. I got distracted and climbed the bump at the turn which had nothing newsworthy. I got back on the ridge and jogged to the junction with the Willow trail. I hiked up to the Moro Canyon gate, then down Moro Canyon trail. I thought I might have to leave the trail to get to the top, but I saw a couple of mountain bikers on top and knew they didn't ride through any brush. About a quarter mile down the trail, the summit trail climbs up to the right. There I found the benchmark stamped "Moro" sticking well above ground, most of it still encased in concrete. I took a break to enjoy the view and exchange greetings with the bikers. Two more peaklets bagged, I returned to the car, jogging the flats and downhills on the way back. I'll never set any speed records, but going lighter and faster was fun on easy terrain.

Art at the start


LC2 summit

LC2 benchmark

Moro Canyon gate, Moro Ridge benchmark rising behind

Moro benchmark

Moro summit