Distance: 2.7 miles round trip cross country
Summit Elevation: 1196'
Elevation Gain: 1020'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.81
Round trip time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Recommended water: 64 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at OHV parking lot off highway 78
Borrego Mountain East Butte is only a few miles away from Borrego Mountain, but the intervening badlands make it worth driving a few miles up highway 78 for a better approach. We parked at an OHV parking lot near some nice (by our standards) restrooms. Rod had injured his calf reffing league basketball the previous week and was feeling it after The Slot. He decided to sit this one out. It was only 9:30 AM, but was already pushing 100F in the July desert. Having reloaded our water, Sean and I set out toward the main gully. The summit was not visible from the parking lot or approach. As we got near the gully, we spotted four more coyotes scattering and at least two were small pups. I tried to get pictures, but they didn't turn out. The left side of the gully was filled with 20' boulders, so we went up the right side, then moved back toward the center. The only shade was behind an occasional large boulder and the sun was scorching. Without really planning it, I started heading up the main ridge while Sean continued up the gully. It was stiff class 2 cross country bouldering and we made slow progress.
When I made it to the top of the ridge, Sean was no longer in sight. The last I saw of him, he had topped the gully. The ridge continued up a bit more, then leveled off. There were a few cairns leading to the now visible summit. The sun was sapping my energy and water. Of the 64 oz of water/G2 I started with, 48 oz were gone when I reached the summit. I thought Sean had beaten me there, but he was not quite sure where the summit was and was waiting for me to reappear. A couple of minutes later, he came up from the direction of the gully and we took turns signing the register. Sweat was pouring off me like a broken faucet. The temp was well over 100F and the heat index who knows? Sean led us down the gully which I thought would be an easier descent than the ridge. There was a little exposure on the sidehill section. We stopped twice to hide from the sun behind boulders on the way down. I sipped my last bottle of water until we got near the bottom of the gully, then we trudged back to the car. We had planned an optional hike of Sentenac Mountain on the way back but decided to call it a day with the temperature hellish and still rising.
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