SOMBRERO PEAK (4,229') AND A DESERT ROAD TRIP February 23-26, 1996

Needing this peak, along with enjoying a "DPS Old-Timers Special," I motored solo down Interstate 5, through San Diego, and then eastbound on Interstate 8 to camp at Lake Jennings County Park. I shot a night photo from my high, car campsite of the lights of Santee or El Cajon, CA.

The next morning, I motored along the "Sunrise Highway," S1, to spend some time before the late meeting time, 10 a.m., for the climb. I will probably never complete my list of the California National Forest Highpoints, since Mt. Laguna, the highpoint of Cleveland National Forest, is barred to public entry. Many a sign and barbed wire prevent even a casual "sneak peak." A view is obtained nearby, however, and some HPS peaks are located around here.

I had a little food in a cafe at Ocotillo, CA, and was stopped on a highway, S2, north, presumably a continued border checkpoint, with a helicopter flying about. A bit past this was a good vista point with a view of some Anza-Borrego badlands.

I met the DPS group, and we set a campspot, then took off for the peak. Not knowing if my little subcompact would make it, I had to beg and then quickly hop into the back of a loaded pickup for the two mile ride to the start point. Most DPS people have capable trucks, and I am often forced to seek a ride in one. Many a DPS leader is queried by me as to the availability of room. Since it is not the responsibility of the Club to arrange transportation, I have to rely on luck, and have some faith, with alternate plans, in choosing to make a 1,000+ mile drive for these trips.

Our late hiking start at 11:22 a.m. got us to the top at 1:05 p.m. There are intermittant use trails, and a bit of cross-country. The view is different from other DPS peaks, being more in another type of desert. An old rail line runs through near here, forming the boundary of one wilderness area.

Our timely return to camp saw the big party. The DPS runs back to 1941, and people who have been around at its inception, or close, were the subjects for this reunion of sorts. "Old Timer" was defined as being with the section, or desert climbing, at least 20 years, which puts me into this category.

I brought salami and chips, with some cake gotten enroute from a brand new supermarket in El Cajon. I try to bring items that won't spoil if not eaten, as that wouldn't be so much of a waste. Unfortunately, I wasn't regarded so sociably as many of the others, who all knew each other.

The next morning, a nice sunrise made for a good picture. We motored around south to do a 4WD approach for the second peak, Jacumba Mountain. As we four-wheeled it close to the top, it began to drizzle. Most were unprepared for wet conditions. I had been assured by one assistant leader that the weather would be O.K. The main leader then cancelled the trip. Some of the group chose to do the peak anyway, in cotton T-shirts and shorts or pants. I wasn't able to join that group, as I didn't have my own transportation.

We drove back to Interstate 8, and my car, whereby I was left to my own ways. Motoring north again into the State Park, I wondered how to make the best of this. Driving north again on S2, I eventually came to Borrego Springs for a look at Indianhead again. I headed east on S22, taking some photo ops, then north toward home. I stopped for some interesting light at about the northern end of the Borrego Badlands.

The weather remained stormy, but the light was then dramatic. It must have been raining hard along the coastal areas. Having dinner in Mojave, my car was snowed upon, and Highway CA 58 was closed.

I got a cheap motel room. The next morning, I ran into my erstwhile, carpool companion Rich, who was returning from Death Valley on another trip!

To spend time, I visited the jetliner graveyard, then Red Rock Canyon State Park, 22 miles to the north, for some photography, then was able to motor slowly over Tehachapi Pass. You win some, you lose some!