Turtle Mountains, Orocopia Mountains
By: Bob Sumner
Thursday and Friday brought rain to Southern California, But Saturday morning dawned bright and clear. The storm remnants were receding far to the east and the forecast was good. And so the group met at 7:00 AM: Maria Giles, Devra Wasserman, John Cheslick, George Pfeiffer, Tom Randel, Julie Tilta, and the leaders. We met 2 miles down the road to Turtle, but almost everyone had trouble finding the right road in the dark. This was no doubt due to the numerous roads encountered while crossing the aqueduct, and a large lump of dirt which obscured the road. One participant did not show up, and we did not wait.
By 8:15 AM we were at the trailhead, where we immediately spotted a huge tarantula. The hairy arachnid was immortalized on film and the hike began. We went northwest and north up the sandy wash to a shallow saddle, then northwest across numerous washes to meet the ridge coming down from Turtle. We spotted yet another tarantula as we headed up to the ridge. We were on the summit by 10:30 AM, where we donned jackets to protect against a rather chilly wind.
We were back to the cars before one and back to the meeting spot by two. Here we discovered the missing Don Croley, who had missed us by 20 minutes. George left us to pursue Whipple, and we headed for Orocopia's northern approach road. We got there by four and quickly commenced happy hour. Good food was consumed by good company who all enjoyed a scenic sunset. We were in bed by 9:30 PM to enjoy a well-deserved rest.
Sunday morning we were driving by 7:00 AM. The best way to find the trailhead is to ignore the DPS guide instruction stating "stay left at all forks" and remain on what appears to be the "main" road. There are many spurs on both sides of the road, but we didn't bother to explore them.
The hike to Orocopia was about four hours round trip. We went up the remnants of a road, across a wash, up to the tail end of the "S" ridge, and along it to the top. It was extremely clear and the view of the Salton Sea was superb. The hike down was very warm and we were glad to be done early. All agreed that it was an enjoyable weekend.
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