8-Apr-95 (Private trip)
By: Mark Adrian
In my relentless pursuit of exploring remote and lonely places, I asked Paul Freiman to lead a trip to bag four of the benchmarks on his San Diego Peaks List that are in the Santa Rosa Mountains. These mountains must be the most rugged in our county, parts of which are incorporated into the newly-established 64,340 acre Santa Rosa Mountains Wilderness. Every time I hike these mountains, it is a very demanding experience.
We agreed on last weekend to do this hike, including, Dawn BM (2795'), Alice BM (3594'), Crab BM (4485'), Zosel BM (4853') and Ruth BM (5070'). These BMs sit along the E spur ridges between Villager and Rabbit peaks, above the depths of Barton Canyon. Joining us were Lorin Mitts (of Borrego Springs) and John Strauch. We determined the best way to approach this project was the Coachella Valley side of the Santa Rosas. So, we began our trek by parking at the end of Fillmore Road, just NW of the town of Oasis at -80'. Saturday afternoon, we departed about 5 PM to establish a base camp up Barton Canyon at about 1000' and get an early start Sunday morning to avoid the scorching desert sun. It took us about 2.5 hours to hike through several orange groves, some abandoned dirt roads, then up a rocky wash to our camp. It was a hot steamy evening, and me without a tent, became a pin cushion for relentless mosquitoes. Nevertheless, we were up at 5 AM Sunday morning.
Our first objective was Dawn benchmark which none of us had ever been to and weren't surprised not to find a register there. The day was very hazy, but the sun still made the early morning ascent quite warm despite the cool breezes. By 9 AM we were on Alice BM, then it was a slow meander up to Crab BM where we encountered a rattle snake en route. Finally, we reached Zosel BM about noon, then after a short rest, we were on the main ridgeline about 1 PM heading N towards Rabbit peak. At the saddle just N of point 5859', we turned E and headed for Ruth BM, arriving there about 3:30 PM. Leaving there about 3:50 PM, we took a combination of ridgelines and loose gullies down to Barton Canyon's main wash arriving there about 6 PM. Since Paul's foot was ailing, Lorin and I struck out ahead for our camp before darkness set in. It was a long trudge down the wash/canyon with much brush and boulder hopping. We arrived at camp about 7:30, just before dark. Paul and John arrived around 9 PM. We struck the camp and departed about 9:40 PM hiking in the light of a half moon. About 11:00 PM we intersected a road we had spotted from above that we determined would expedite our return to the van, which, it did, and we arrived back at the van 1:00 AM Monday morning. It was then about an hours drive back to Borrego (Lorin's house), where we transferred to Paul's car. We arrived back at Paul's house about 4 AM, and I got home about 4:30 AM. Trip stats: 20 miles, 6500+' gain, 7000' loss, 19 hours for Sunday only. This had to be the longest hiking day in my "career".
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