Matomi Peak

May 1970

By: Louise Werner


At Cowcamp (2500') near the south end of the Sierra San Pedro Martir, fear gripped me at the thought of two people starting across the untracked cactus wilderness with a knapsack, no maps, and no assurance of finding water. There were four 4-wheel drives in the party but only Bob Boyd and myself wanted to go in search of Matomi.

Twenty years ago Mrs. Alberta Meling of the Rancho San Jose described to me a big plateau, called Matomi, where Indians had left many artifacts. Many years later Bob Boyd and Tom and Trudie Hunt, going up from the San Filipe Desert in search of Matomi, reported spending most of their Christmas vacation in a huge canyon with palms and artifacts. On Howard Gulick's map Matomi appears as a 4500' peak. Wondering how all these pieces fit together, it occurred to us that climbing the peak might satisfy our curiosity, if we could find the peak.

During Easter of last year, an attempt from the west side, via Rancho Cypres, only added to the confusion. After going as far as the vehicles could, and then taking off across country for half a day, we were not sure we could identify the peak. Christmas of that year found Bob and Trudie trying it from the south. They identified the peak from a photo in Gerhard and Gulick and determined that Cowcamp was the point to which one could drive. The peak was estimated to be about six miles distant, with canyons and ridges in between.

On the morning of the start of the trip my fears evaporated when Bill and Pauline Holden and Jack Baldwin decided to go part of the way, especially when the men offered to carry my pack, which had a gallon of water, liquid foods in cans, and sleeping gear. The peak came into view from the first ridge to the north. Every step was beset with bayonets of agave, spines of cacti, and other similar pleasantries. Ridges alternated with canyons but the loss of elevation was not great. Bob tied yellow ribbons to the tops of ocotillo wands. It wasn't long before we spotted a canyon with water and palms. This made perfect the clear temperate day. Butterflies and bees sucked nectar from the prickly poppies and apricot mallow. Scrub junipers appeared. After lunch the support party turned back and a full view of the peak showed no difficulties. Continuing to its base we camped near a cave that should have had artifacts but didn't. Evidently the Indians didn't favor the south side. We found no grinding holes or petroglyphs but only a few shards and worked obsidian.

Early morning was a prime time to climb the mountain. In the direction of Cowcamp the fog had wiped out all of the landmarks except for the ruins of San Juan de Dios. The vegetation changed to tough grasses, sumac, vetch, and succulents. A couple of swifts dive-bombed us, probably protecting a nest. We scrambled to the top over an avalanche slope of volcanic chuncks. Sure enough, the Mexican government had been there ahead of us, placing bench marks in 1957. We found no other indication of ascents.

On all sides were shelving plateaus cut by canyons. Bob recognized Matomi Canyon, curving down to the San Filipe Desert and the Gulf of California. Far beyond it to the north loomed El Picacho del, Diablo. To the west and south a large canyon with many palms conjured up dreams of exploration. From the climax of the area that is Matomi, we were more than satisfied with the way in which everything fell into place. Fork right (indistinct)
Auto Log Mileage
00.0 El Rosario, B.C. Tremendous desert gardens
06.0 Fork right off main Baja road
18.7 Aguajito Mine
26.1 Sauzalito sign, turn left Glympses of Matomi on the left
28.3 Sauzalito Mine
30.0 Arroyo with water
31.7 Fork right
32.8Road disappeared in a sandy wash
34.2 Road disappeared in sandy wash and had to be rebuilt in spots
41.2 Mission San Juan de Dios ruins
42.4 Fork left (faint)
46.8 Fork left
49.7 Low pass (2100)
51.2 Cowcamp

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