Coyote Mountain from the South
(click on photo to enlarge, exit back with x in top right )
We had planned a quick 4 day vacation in Borrego Springs when Kathy was working close to full time as giving child care to our grandson Zack. The money was paid for the campground and we were going to use our mini ten foot Carson trailer, while Zack was visiting the other grandparents in the Bay area.
Looking for fun things to do in the San Diego area, Afra had invited me to hike with some non Sierra Club groups with similar interests and no worries about rules and regulations. The go to book for these outing is "Hiking in Anza-Borrego Desert Vol 1 and 2" by Robin Halford. A few weeks ago one group did the Vista del Malpais hike and I really liked the loose format and low key people who were at the same time very competent.
Walking the rim of the badlands near Font's Point
The second group that Afra hikes with does a monthly hike. My first one with them was one of Halford's called Paul's Playa. It was also a great hike but taking a steep approach to the bumps in front of Coyote Mountain (from the Pegleg Mounument on the South side). It was a hard hike of about 6 hours. Jim had left a few hours early and was going to also climb Coyote. We waited for him at a high point rather late in the day, so the peak was not an option for the rest of us. I was a little disappointed, but it had been raining a bit and by the time we got back I knew it was the right decision.
When we reached the campground, Kathy said she wanted to do something hard, like Villager. I suggested that we do Coyote Mountain, from Rockhouse Road by the Clark's Dry Lake on the East side of the mountain. Although short (5.6 miles round trip) it is rated very strenuous by Halford. Since Paul's Playa was rated strenuous, I knew this was going to be a challenge. There was little surprise on my part when Kathy was all for it. It was in the mid thirties that night, so we left a little after 8 and left the truck about 9.
Through the flood plain to the start of the ridge network
We had a few false starts until the All Trails app helped us get on the right ridge. It is further North than your instincts might discern. Kathy and I have had practice at heated discussions and there was no way I was going to be too assertive and be headed back to camp early.
On the ridge at last and getting somewhere
The going was hardest at the beginning and toward the top
Kathy and I had started this hike with minor foot problems. I was recovering from a stone bruise on my heel from the Paul's Playa hike and Kathy had a toenail that was digging into her toe. As the day progressed, the rough terrain began to play on these weaknesses. The false summits were a bit hard on the optimism that we shared. The only thing that kept me going was I knew that there was way too much investment to turn around. It was not a safety issue on the foot problems for me, just a strong desire to make to the top and get going back down. We were probably hungry, it had been long time since breakfast. We shared a Laura Bar and kept putting one foot in front of the other. The top section has a lot of chollas and the wind has done a good job of littering the surfaced with the little buggers. The route going up is hard to see because of the steepness of the terrain.
Finally, we reached the summit plateau. The view towards the badlands with Clark Lake in foreground
Kathy on top, looking a little more towards the South
We signed the register book and had a nice lunch. The whole hike was unusual in that the wind never picked up and the temperature never reached 70. A perfect day for an adventure where we weren't sure of a positive outcome. On way down it was much easier to see a defined use trail, a bit more to the North from how we came up. The down climb was much easier than expected on the slippery small scree like conditions when using a side step. However, the new Montrail trail runners I got to overcome last week's heel problems still seem a little too lightweight. They work great in the Sierra on real trails, but in the point to point steep desert conditions, not so much. By the time we got back to the truck, my heel bruise was much worse, but we had plenty of medicine back at the trailer to make things right.
Stats: 2600 feet elevation gain and 5.6 miles round trip
rated very strenuous by Robin Halford
We rode bikes the next day on the Peg Leg loop and admired Anza's Angel on our now favorite mountain. By coincidence, we were riding on December 24, the same day in 1775 that the "angel" was seen and supposedly used to find the way to the coast. More likely they used a Native American to guide them as they were quite familiar with the route.The following day I rode my bike again because of hobble issues and Kathy hiked the Palm Canyon. No mountain sheep sited, just foreign tourists.