Nopal Benchmark

Today’s adventure was a combination of climbing some peaks listed on the Borrego Benchmark Club list and some fun off-road adventures in the Valley of the Moon area. Dave picked Ted and me up in his Rubicon and headed down the freeway toward the Valley of the Moon. Ted has been wanting to climb Blue Angels Peak to cross another SoCal county high point off the list.

After climbing Blue Angels Peak and Whip Benchmark, our next destination was Nopal Benchmark, which sits to the southwest of some communication towers. We drove up past them to a small turnout. A small fire ring had been built and next to it was a small frying pan. We wondered who would have left it behind. I spotted a use trail that led up the slope of the peak and began following it toward the summit. Not more than a minute later, a car pulled up and out hops a kid to retrieve the frying pan! He had slept there last night and missed it when he packed up. We asked how it was overnight, and he replied it was nice except for being a bit windy. He hopped in this car and drove off. We continued upward following the use trail. We had to climb over a couple of rocks, but other than that it was a straightforward ascent.

The summit did not have a benchmark nor a register, but it had great views of the 8 freeway just below us. 

Once back at the car, we saw that it was getting close to lunch, so we decided to skip Quirk Benchmark and Smuggler’s Den. There are a couple more benchmarks back here (Gold and Tehe) and I am sure I can convince Dave to go driving back here again. We hit The Outpost in Alpine for some great pizza and a beer before heading home. A great day to cross two more of my Borrego Benchmark Club list and have some fun in the Rubicon!


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. 

Whip Benchmark

Today’s adventure was a combination of climbing some peaks listed on the Borrego Benchmark Club list and some fun off-road adventures in the Valley of the Moon area. We stowed our gear in the back of the Jeep after hiking Blue Angel Peak and set off toward some of the other minor benchmarks scattered around the area. Just to our west was Whip Benchmark. I wanted to get it last time I was here but had some time constraints that prevented me from hiking to it. We carefully made our way back down from Prospect Mine. At one point we had a 25-degree tilt, which was a fun bit, as we came down the road. The road up toward Whip also had some fun off-road bits, but nothing like that section we just drove down.

Whip Benchmark was a quick walk up. In fact, there was a benchmark and register that was guarded by a cactus on the summit. The last person to sign it was back in March 2021! We snapped some photos and cruised back to the jeep. We missed a turn when leaving Prospect Mine for the road I thought we should take, but could now see it to our east. That road actually rejoined the road just above that “fun” section, but this time Dave found a better line and it was a cakewalk. 


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. 

Blue Angels Peak

Today’s adventure was a combination of climbing some peaks listed on the Borrego Benchmark Club list and some fun off-road adventures in the Valley of the Moon area. Dave picked Ted and me up and headed down the freeway toward the Valley of the Moon. Ted has been wanting to climb Blue Angels peak to cross another SoCal county high point off the list. We pulled off the freeway and lowered the tire pressure on the Rubicon before setting off. We drove up the road that takes you into the Valley of the Moon. Past where I had parked my Subaru on a previous excursion, the road had its first real section that would take some care getting through, but the Rubicon had no issues. Our first designation was the trailhead for Blue Angels Peak. It was nice just driving there and not having to walk on the road like I did the first time. Just before we reached the trailhead, we had to drive up one tricky section. We parked and grabbed our gear for the much shorter hike to the summit than last time. 

First, we inspected the quartz mine, as well as the abandoned Chevy, before heading southward along the use trail. To our east, we had some nice views of the actual Valley of the Moon. Huge wind turbines stood off to our south. We cruised along toward the summit, and scrambled up what I thought was the peak, only to discover it was the bump to our north. Since Boundary Marker 321 was just a few hundred yards away, we headed over to it first. After snapping a few photos of it, we retraced our route and ascended the correct bump. 

Dave is dealing with some tendon issues, so he found a nice rock to lay on and enjoy the sun, while Ted and I made the short scramble to the summit. I could not find a register, but at least it now has a wooden sign. After snapping our photos and me scrambling to photograph the reference marks as well, we dropped back down off the summit and began working our way back to the jeep. We stowed our gear in the back and set off toward some of the other minor benchmarks scattered around the area.


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. 

Blue Angels Peak

Today’s adventure was to summit Blue Angels Peak. With the forests closed due to fire danger, we were looking for something that we could do. I had suggested doing San Ysidro and The Thimble, but Susie wanted to explore something new, so Blue Angels Peak was selected. I headed out early to try and catch the sunrise and squeeze in a quick summit of Jade Benchmark. About 7:3, Susie and Gail pulled up and transferred into my Subaru. Rather than make the steep climb up from the trailhead we opted to drive to a turnout to avoid this section.

The views were spectacular as we worked our way along the roads. Finally we came to the point where we left the road and began to follow a use trail toward the summit.

With a bit of scrambling at the very end, the summit was reached. Susie found the register and we signed ourselves in. The Valley of the Moon spread out before us to the east, and Mexico was just to our south. A nice breeze kept us cool. A Border Patrol jeep cruised the road below us.

I scrambled around the summit locating the various reference marks. Plastic bottles could be found scattered about. Our next goal was the boundary marker to our south. This obelisk denotes the border between the United States and Mexico.

We took our photos and then headed back. I had located several other peaks also on the Borrego Benchmark Club list, but the day was warming up a bit and I needed to get home since Yom Kippur starts at sundown. This is a place I need to return to and explore this region further!


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. 

Jade Benchmark

Today’s adventure was to summit Blue Angels Peak. With the forests closed due to fire danger, we were looking for something that we could do. I had suggested doing San Ysidro and The Thimble, but Susie wanted to explore something new, so Blue Angels Peak was selected. 

I headed out early to try and catch the sunrise and squeeze in a quick summit of Jade Benchmark, which is on the Borrego Benchmark Club list. It was a short climb to the summit. I found the register, but the ink in the pen was dry. I was also able to locate the benchmark before I hustled back down and waited for Susie and Gail to arrive.


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.