Since I had the day off, I decided to put it to good use and go hiking. I figured, why not get one of my least favorite hikes on the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge out of the way? This would be Santiago Peak. I decided to follow the same basic plan as I did last year, to drive up from Silverado Canyon to just before the trailhead to Modjeska Peak, park, and hike on to Santiago. The road up the canyon was in good shape, with a few crossings still had water flowing slightly over them. At the junction with the Main Divide Road, I took a short break. I remembered this next section of the road was a bit rocky, but as I drove up it, I found that it was much nicer than expected. It was still rocky, but not nearly as worrisome as it was last time. I parked in the same spot, grabbed my gear, and set off down the road.
Once I reached the small saddle between Modjeska and Santiago, I looked for a side trail that would take a more direct route toward the summit, rather than the winding road. While it looks like it might have been an old road at one point, this was a nicely maintained trail. The biggest surprise was the old truck off to the side. While the trail was comfortably wide, I had trouble seeing a truck drive it. The trail eventually reconnects with the Main Divide Road, which I then followed on up to the summit. Along the way, I spotted one last patch of snow.
There was no one at the summit, just the hum of the towers and a slight breeze. The sign was gone, but that is not why I climb. I wandered around the summit a bit, taking in the sights. Peakbagger was misbehaving, so I did not have a reference map to locate any secondary marks. Oh well. The last time I climbed Santiago, my knee was in no shape to try to summit Modjeska.
Today it was feeling just fine, so once I had reached that small saddle again, I took another side trail that would climb partway to the summit. This trail was a bit overgrown but still very passable — it connects with a road that works its way to the summit of Modjeska. I reached a fork and could either take the .6 mile road or the shorter but steeper direct route up what I assume was a fire break created during the Holy Jim Fire. I opted to take the short-but-steep route up and the long way back. As I neared the summit, I heard my first car of the day.
Two trucks were making their way up to the summit. I snapped a few photos and waited for the first truck to climb up the last bit. I chatted with the spotter a bit while she guided the truck over some rocks. I waved at the second truck and made my way back down. When they passed me again, we chatted about a side trail that I was near. Unfortunately, I knew nothing about it and when I checked GaiaGPS, it had nothing, I wished them safe driving and they drove off. Soon after I was back in my car and ready to head back down the mountain. I kept my windows down and the radio off to listen for any oncoming traffic. I encountered several more cars, a couple of motorcycles, and some bikes all working their way up. All told I logged 5.4 miles with just over 1,300 feet of gain in 2:30. This was my first peak on the 2021 Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge.
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.
One thought on “Santiago & Modjeska Peaks”
Holy Fire Batman. It’s still closed up there, since August 2018. I’ve been waiting to resume hiking up there.