Jacumba Mountain

Well with the forecast for the weekend looking rainy and windy, I opted to take a “Me” day and attempt Jacumba Mountain again. Last weekend, I tried summiting it via the Morteros Palm route. Had two companions along for the hike. We got close to the summit, but a few route errors and its difficulty had us reach a predefined turnaround time.

So, this time I decided to see if I could attempt the summit via the southern route. I knew the road would be a challenge, as reports of its condition were not good. I pulled off the 8 at the In-Ko-Pah and headed to TM019. The road was rough in spots, but my Subaru Outback handled it without an issue. I reached the spot where Patrick O’Neil’s track began. Judging by the road ahead, I concur that this was a good spot to park.

As I stepped out of the car, I was reminded why there are windmills all around the area. It was breezy, and the rule of one door open at a time was certainly in effect. I headed down the road for a short while until it was time to head cross-country. This attempt would be completed without any trails to guide me. It would be a combination of topo maps, gpx, and old fashion navigation skills.

The first part of the route weaved through the rocks and cacti. I knew this section would be fairly straightforward. After a bit, the route began to gain some elevation. Unlike the first attempt, this gain was not nearly as painful or difficult. In fact, it was almost stair-like for portions.

The route also had some nice level sections to pause and catch your breath at.

The real challenge of this route is the middle section. The ridge is too jumbled with boulders, so I followed the general route that Patrick used. This portion is a slow scramble over rocks and through the trees. The upside was I was shielded from the wind.

Eventually, I came to the saddle before the final push to the summit. I dropped down and was reminded of the wind as my hat almost blew off.

I looped around to the east and approached from that side. There is a nice flat region, perfect for a quick break before the final push. For much of the hike, the summit is not visible.

As I reached the summit, I could not believe I made it! This was my 90th peak! I found the benchmarks and signed the register. I did not stay too long, as my hat almost went flying away again. The views were fantastic. I could see the spot where we had turned back. Looking at the route we would have taken, it would have been slow going.

I headed back down and began to retrace my route. At times it was easy, as my footprints were visible on the desert floor. As I approached the middle section again, I did find an easier route for about half of it. More luck than skill. I continued to plow along the side of the mountain, looking for any signs from the route gods…

I reached the end of that section and began the final push back to the car. The day had warmed up to the mid-60s and was glad I started early.

I had a few route errors returning, mostly me trying not to lose elevation. Along the way, I collected several bits of trash. I assume they were discarded by migrants. The empty pack of Mexican Marlboros was one clue. Soon, the radio tower was again visible and I knew my car was nearby.  I plodded back up the road, again confirming my decision not to take the Subaru down it. The drive back was uneventful, just slow and careful. Now on to the final 10!

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, Central Coast, 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. 

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