I, along with two hiking companions made the long drive out to Mortero Palms in southern Anza-Borrego. One of them was a young fellow I had never hiked with, but since my other companion is in good shape, I was not worried about him. He had just started working on the 100 Peak Challenge. Once we reached the trailhead, we would initially follow the same route you would take if you were going to view the Goat Canyon Trestle legally.
Once past the palms, we continued working our up toward the saddle where we would turn toward the summit instead of the trestle. We did find a nice use trail for some of this portion. I was in the back of the group, as both of them were in better shape than I. Unfortunately, the new guy raced on far ahead and headed up an incorrect route. I had to hustle to catch them and inform them of their navigation error. We got back on track, but we had lost some time and the new guy needed to be back in town by a certain time.
We could now start to see the summit off in the distance and began working our way up to it. I was watching our pace and our planned turnaround time. Unfortunately, we reached that point. We still had another mile to go and about 600 feet of elevation gain. That was going to take probably about 45 minutes to an hour to do. This summit would have to wait for another day
As we descended down the ridge, once again, they raced ahead and out of sight. I had the car keys, so I knew that they weren’t going anywhere without me. We did regroup near the saddle and continued working our way down. But I was not pleased about splitting up during the descent.
We picked up the use trail again until it ends back in the boulder section near the first bit of the hike. Rather than following the track I had been recording, the new guy was off down the wrong canyon. This was the third time he had made a navigational error. I reviewed my topo map, yes a paper one, and saw this canyon would get back to the trailhead. We worked our way down it, we carefully work our way down some steep dry waterfalls. I was not a happy hiker.
We safely made it back to the car and headed home. I have had some time to reflect on this attempt. For me, I need to make sure that everyone understands our route and what to do at certain points along the way. In the past, our groups had always stayed together, but this time this was not the case. But as a hiker on any hike, it is your responsibility of yourself to know the general route and what to expect. You always need to ask yourself, if I was now alone on this hike would I know how to get back?
I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest.