El Picacho del Diablo
By: Ron Jones
CERRO DE LA ENCANTADA--Private Trip
Seven of us met at Vallecitos at 8:30 Thursday morning to try for Big Picacho via the western approach--across the San Pedro Martir high plateau, down Gorin's Gully to the head of Canon Diablo, thence to Campo Noche and the standard route up to the North Summit of the old Devil's Peak. Our schedule was a rather relaxed one, consisting of 4 days to bag Picacho and another to try for Tres Palomas. On the first day --Thursday-- we hiked with backpacks to a real good campsite WSW of Botella Azul (Blue Bottle) with a plentiful water supply. Several remaining hours of daylight let us relax, enjoy the 8,400 foot elevation and do a bit of exploring. Friday, we backpacked up to the rim of Canon Diablo at Botella Azul. Ron Jones led five of the group to the top of botella Azul - about 300 feet above us - and then we searched out and found the well-ducked trail leading just below Botella Azul, eastward, along the rim, and just below it, toward the jagged ridge forming the Pinnacle Ridge, which itself forms the headwall of Diablo Canon.
Then, we began to descend a steep dirt and rock slope into Diablo Canon, hugging the sheer rock wail of the Pinnacle Ridge. We let ourselves be funneled into the main canyon, through and over dry waterfalls and huge boulders, where we came to running water. Here was, also, dense patches of Stinging Nettle which made the shorts-clad hikers wish they had worn blue-jeans. Barbara Reber suffered most from the nettles. The waters of the stream were of large volume and were clear and cold and most refreshing. We felt that no purification was necessary. The no-trail jaunt down the stream to Campo Noche was difficult, but according to leader Ron Jones, was similar to the travel in the bottom portion of the canon; perhaps even, not so tough. We arrived at Campo Noche in the middle of the afternoon and spent time soaking our feet in the stream, setting up camp, sampling various "Goodies" that Don Weiss, Bob Meador, Francoise Walthert, Jane Rauch, Lou Brecheen, Barbara Reber and Ron Jones had fetched. Early Saturday we set out, up Night Wash through thick brush, into Slot Wash with steer granite slabs (where we paused in memory of Joe Darrow) and thence into Wall Street for the final rush to the north summit. Jane Rauch was so happy to have made the peak, at last, that she actually shed tears of joy. It was the first time for Lou, Bob, Jane and Francoise. It was Barbara's and Don's second time while Ron celebrated his 9th presence on the summit by leading Don over to the South summit while the rest of the party finished lurch and slowly and carefully began the return to Campo Noche.
About 4:30 saw the last of the party straggle into camp--3 1/2 hours of daylight left to celebrate the accomplishment. Many tins of Smoked delicacies, several cups of Mescal (the official drink of the DPS), 151 rum, champagne, etc later we went to our bedrolls under a clear, star-studded sky with a half-moon smiling down upon us.
Sunday morning, we retraced our paths back up-canyon with much lighter packs and very much lighter hearts. It required 6 hours of unhurried travel to reach the rim at Botella Azul. Since we wanted to try for Tres Palomas, we sought another campsite to the South about 1 mile. Here, we also found water and an excellent camp area. Monday morning 5 hiked across country toward the Three Doves, but after about 4 hours of battling house-sized boulders, thorny brush and a tight schedule, we abandoned the attempt with the peak "right there before us so close, we could reach out and touch it". We returned to the first campsite and followed the well-defined and well-ducked trail back out to the cars and drove home. Most arrived home around midnight-plus or minus.
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