El Picacho del Diablo
By: John McCully
This was as a scouting trip for a three day backpack the following weekend. Last year Tanya Mamedalin and I staggered back to the cars at 8PM after I got a severe case of nausea trying to keep up with her. This year Erik Siering, Bob Sumner, Jim Fujimoto and I were hoping to beat that time and staggered back the cars at 11PM. Oh well, nobody ever claimed Big Picacho was easy.
We set off about 5AM and got to Blue Bottle Saddle about 6:20. I waited at the saddle while the other guys who were still fresh and full of vigor did Blue Bottle, getting back to the saddle by 6:50. Bob Sumner and I then raced down to Campo Noche, arriving about 8:15, with Erik and Jim arriving about a half hour later, We left Campo Noche about 9, hoping to get to the summit by 11:30. The Big Picacho God decided it was time to strike, however, and laid a dose of heat exhaustion on Erik. Now this is the same Erik who runs up Baldy from the Village in two and a half hours. We got to the summit at 12:30 and about 1 Bob bounded off to do the South Summit while the rest of us started down. Erik recovered from his heat exhaustion and we all got to Campo Noche about 4PM. About 4:30 we started up and the Big Picacho God decided that Bob was too proud of himself for having done Blue Bottle, and the North and South summit all in one day and laid into him. The ailment effecting Bob was mysterious, but effective in slowing him down. It may have been too heavy a pack, because eventually we took some of the extra items out of it and his speed improved considerably. By 8 we were back at the saddle and in good shape to get the cars by 9:30. This time the Big Picacho God decided to lay a moonless night on us and my route finding became quite muddled and we didn't get to the cars until about 11PM, for a total time of 18 hours. Oh well, maybe next year.
In order avoid a river crossing the road into to the observatory has a 9 mile detour this year. Bill Oliver had managed to cross the river in a 4WD a week earlier, so I decided to go for it and managed to get completely stuck. A guy from San Diego then tried to tow me out and also got stuck. The net result was we spent 5 hours in the middle of the river and it cost me $80 to get a local with a real 4WD, the kind with giant tires and lights above the cab, to tow me and the San Diego guy out.
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