Distance: 11.8 miles round trip on trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 4614' (Pinyon), 4573' (Wilson)
Prominence: 674' (Pinyon)
Elevation Gain: 1920' (combined)
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.53
Round trip time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Recommended water: 136 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at Wilson Trailhead (I didn't get to the trailhead)
Back to the Anza-Borrego Desert for two peaks on the San Diego Sierra Club Peaks list, with Wilson Benchmark also on the Lower Peaks list. A 3 for 2 deal. I usually dread the long drive to Anza-Borrego, but I'm always glad I made the trip. I wanted to get back in the early afternoon and also wanted to avoid the late summer desert heat, so I left the house at 3:30 AM for the 105 mile one way drive. The trailhead is a little south of S-22 not far from the start of the departure point to The Thimble and San Ysidro. I used the official LPC directions, but it was not easy to find. Even if you find it, you may not be able to drive down it too far in a low clearance vehicle. I never got past the finding part.
On the way back, I realized the trick to getting on the correct dirt road is to turn left at the first chance from Wilson Road, then a quick right to get on the parallel dirt road. In the dark, I missed the turn and tried to turn left at the next intersection and the road was too rough for my car. I tried again at the next intersection, Camel Rock Road, and it ended abruptly. I wasted a good 20 minutes trying to find the way over, finally giving up and pulling off Wilson Road a little past Camel Rock. I decided to just eat the extra mileage and gain. I quickly went cross country toward the trailhead. I found the cross country pretty easy since the vegetation had still not grown back from a previous fire. After a mile or so, I found a road and eventually intersected the Wilson Trail, having missed the official trailhead somewhere. On trail, I moved faster, keeping a good pace to try to make up for the extra distance. As soon as the Pinyon Ridge high point was in view, I left the trail and headed directly for it. There was some class 2 scrambling and the summit was an easy 20' class 3 block. On top, I found and signed the register, noting that only 4 other parties had visited in 2014. The sun was up and views in all directions were great. I could see the Wilson BM only a mile and change to the east. After a short rest, I headed northeast to intersect the Wilson Trail again.
I followed it until I got close, then headed straight up Wilson. My angle from the trail was misleading and I didn't end up near the high point, having to veer north until I found the cairn, benchmark, and register. There were two register books, one going back to 1993 and most recent one starting in 2004. Wilson appeared to have more visitors than Pinyon, at least in 2014. The views from Wilson were very similar to Pinyon, but with burnt trees and vegetation. I did zoom in on The Thimble and San Ysidro, evoking memories of my trip there.
On the way back, it occurred to me that I had not seen much wildlife. Shortly after that thought, I startled a couple of huge jack rabbits, and ran into a beautiful copper-brown coyote coming the other way along the road. Unfortunately, they were all too fast for my camera. When I got back to the car, I had a business card from a San Diego County Sheriff's deputy under my windshield wiper with a warning about where I had parked. I was only about 30' off the Wilson Road, but someone had called the Sheriff to complain that I was on private property and blocking the very overgrown side road. I found that claim dubious since I had seen exactly zero other cars on any of the dirt roads and zero other humans. Still, I recommend not parking where I did (see the GPS track) or you might get the same warning. Based on the tone of the written warning, the deputy may have been annoyed to get this particular call. Anyway, this was my second run in with local law enforcement this year. Not a trend I want to continue!
Track profile is only 90% complete. I forgot to reset the track until I was a mile in to the hike,
so the total distance from my Wilson Road parking spot was closer to 11.8 miles