Peak Name: Manza Benchmark
Distance: 3.94 miles
Date: November 19, 2017
Summit: 5,525 feet
Looking to summit another peak in the Lagunas before any weather hit, so I opted to hike out to Manza Benchmark. This time I was joined by my good friend James. We parked just off Sunrise Highway, right near the Sunset trailhead. We followed the main trail for a bit before locating a use trail heading across the meadow.
The trees were still showing some bit of fall on them. We knew that the trail was going to descend into a drainage area, before climbing another ridge to the actual summit. Carefully check our maps and route, we navigated down through the brush. Bits of poison oak was spotted along the sides of the trail, so some extra care was taken as we began ascending.
Once we reached the ridge, we began passing through thickets of manzanita and over several false summits, until at the end of the ridge our goal was sighted.
With some minor rock scrambling, we found the benchmark and signed the register. As we rested, the views were surprisingly nice. After soaking up some sun and the quiet, we began our trek back to the trailhead. We again were careful as we worked our way down the drainage ravine, as it was a steep descent. Soon we found ourselves back at the car and off for a cold beer at Alpine Brewery and a tasty burrito.
A few months later, I was hiking with Derek up to Whale Peak, and our conversation turned to what my favorite peak has been so far. Although I had some really enjoyable summits out Anza-Borrego, the summit was my answer. It was a nice blend of scenery, a bit of challenge and adventure.