With Susie, Matt, and Greg off on a backpacking effort to summit Cody, Pike, and Palm Mesa, I opted to attempt Pyramid Peak. They had done it last December while I was madly racing to finish the 100 Peak Challenge. Since there were some winds forecast for later in the afternoon, I knew this was going to be a sunrise start. As I headed down from Ranchita, I caught another stunning sunrise. Usually, I let Ted grab those photos, but he had to work, so I had to pull over to snap a few shots.
After a quick pit stop at the parking lot for Maidenhair Falls for a bio-break, I kept heading east to the trailhead. Pulling into the turnout, another car was parked there. Since this is the same one for Villager and Mile High, I wondered what they might be off exploring? I grabbed my gear and headed northeast across the desert floor toward Palo Verde Wash.
As I neared the wash, the ground became rockier. I remembered from our ascent of Mile High that the wash was not one of those nice sandy ones. Once in the wash, my next landmark would be a cairn that would mark the mine trail I would take to the east. Checking my route, I knew it to be close. I had spent some time on Google Earth to get a feel of where I should look, as solo hiking takes some extra research. Susie had mentioned they made it larger when they took it. Sure enough, I spied it and scrambled up the side of the wash onto its well-defined path.
I would follow this trail until I reached the Smoke Tree Wash. A few flowers would line the trail along the way. I dropped down into the wash and continued north. I finally caught my first glimpse of the peak and the ridgeline I would take. I stayed in the wash for a very short time. While the exit did not have a cairn, the terrain made it pretty clear where the exit was.
Here I was able to pick up the use trail that I would follow all the way to the summit. The first section crossed a fairly steep and rocky scree section, I was not looking forward to descending this later. Once past this section, the terrain was far more manageable––somewhat rocky but without causing issues. I reached the top of a minor bump and took a short breather before the final push to the summit.
Once I crested the Ridge, I could feel the winds pick up. Here I turned north onto the new ridge and the last few thousand feet to the summit. Once there, I soaked in the views. Today, I think in part due to those winds, the skies were clear. The Salton Sea spread out to the east, and Travelers Peak somewhere to the south. To my north, I think stood Rosa Point. There is no Benchmark here, but a register filled with many familiar names. What was most impressive was the number of times Steve Fausett has been here!
The winds were building and I slipped on my windbreaker while I enjoyed my snack before heading back down. I retraced my route, and the use trail was even clearer on my descent. As I neared that section near leaving Smoketree wash, I cautioned myself to watch my footing. Sadly, my foot slid on the rocky scree and I took a tumble. Thankfully, just a few minor scrapes.
Once safely back in the wash, I again found the mine trail. I had considered taking the other branch of the wash to explore the natural stone tanks, but my tumble aborted that plan. I cruised along the trail, the occasional lizard scampering by.
Soon the Clark Dry Lake Bed was visible to the west as I made my final descent back into the Palo Verde Wash. From here, I again crossed the 1.4 miles back to the car. With that my 88th Peak was completed!
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.