Sunset Mountain

Hiked: January 20, 2020
Summit: 3,657 feet
Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,974 feet
Round Trip Time: 4 hrs 26 mins

Another fantastic day out in Anza-Borrego. The planned summit was Sunset Mountain, a couple of miles down Pinyon Wash. Susie Kara and I planned to rendezvous with Matt Bennett at the turnoff from the 78 onto the dirt wash. Along the way, we caught a wonderful sunrise at Santa Ysabel.

The road to the starting point for the hike could be driven by a standard car with a little care. The skies were overcast as we set off across the desert floor, weaving through the Ocotillos. Soon we found ourselves at the base of the mountain and stared up at its steep rocky slopes. There was no trail for this peak, it was one of those “avoid the pointy plants of pain and the rocks”. 

We picked our way upward. Matt and Susie led the way, while I followed behind, keeping a slow but steady pace. They would stop from time to time to regroup. I would have a quick sip and be ready to continue plodding upward.

Along the way, we stumbled across the remains of what we think was a Big Horn Sheep. Given that it was next to a large set of boulders, we also don’t think it died of natural causes…

Soon the summit was almost in reach and a welcomed break from the climbing. With the overcast skies, some of the sweeping vistas were diminished. We signed the register and the benchmark and two reference marks were found. The benchmark is stamped Yak, but most maps refer to it as Sunset Mountain.

Since Susie did have two yoga classes to teach later in the afternoon, we did need to be mindful of the time. Given the terrain, we knew that our descent was going to be one of care and caution.

As we approached the base of the summit, we debated as to our path down. Matt and Susie took a steeper route down to the wash, while I followed a route closer to our ascent. They said their way seemed the better choice, as they watched my descent, although it wasn’t that bad.

We worked our way down the wash, encountering a really fun dry waterfall that was a perfect slide. We got separated, but given we now had a straight forward walk across the desert floor, I was not worried. I reached the car before them, which I expected since they were probably waiting for me at some spot. Once I reached it I honked the horn and a few minutes later they arrived.

This was #76 of the San Diego 100 for me, and #81 for Susie. Dropping Matt back at his car, we motored home.

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