Jacumba Mountain, Sombrero Peak


By: Wynne Benti


We met Ted and Anna Lon Pinson, Gene Olsen, Bob Wyka, Bill Faulkner and Carol Teguns at the entrance to the Bow Willow campground on S2 in the Anza Borrego desert at 7:30 am Saturday morning. We proceeded north on S2 to the Indian Gorge Road, turned left and went 2.5 miles to the end of the road (stay to the left after the road forks). From the end of the road, we followed the ridge directly up to the summit. On top of Sombrero, we experienced the contrasting climate and flora of the Anza Borrego Desert; gray storm clouds rolling over the palm groves and Jacumba Mountains to the south, sunlight breaking through cumulus clouds over the ocotillo studded Carrizo Badlands to the east.

We had lunch back at the cars and decided to spend the afternoon sightseeing in the town of Ocotillo. Actually, we stopped there to fill up with gas and regroup to carpool to the In-Ko-Psh road turn-off on I-8. Somehow in the translation of foot to gas pedal and cars following each other, Carol, who was driving alone, maneuvered her vehicle somewhere in between the speeding Olsen and Faulkner mobiles and the slower Danta and Pinson units. Twenty miles down the road, past the turn-off and cars waiting at the offramp, Carol realized something was wrong, when no familiar vehicles were in sight. Instead of back-tracking, she decided to head for home, hoping (as we I out later) that we were not worrying about her. Meenwhile, one group waited at the east bound In-Ko-Pah exit, in case she returned, while we drove to the next westbound exit to see if he could find her. Randy and I drove back to the meeting point in Ocotillo, to see if, perhaps, she had returned there. We spent about two hours waiting and searching, finally coming to the conclusion that she had probably gone back to Los Angeles. When Randy contacted her later, he was relieved to find out that her untimely 'detour' hadn't dimmed her enthusiasm for future trips.

With little daylight left, we followed the secondary highway on the south side of I-8 west, toward the town of Jacumba, for about 3/4 mile. We then turned right on a graded dirt road which took us northeast, back under a freeway overpass. We followed this graded dirt road north, on the east side of Table Mtn, along a ridge marked by relay towers (not shown on the 1975 photo revised topo). When we reached the last visible relay tower, we descended a small steep hill where the road became too rough for the 2-wheel drive vehicles. With storm clouds overhead and a light rain falling (which later evolved into a torrential downpour), we decided to spend the night on the dirt road (3560 'on the topo), high above Anza Borrego and the flickering night lights of El Centre and Ocotillo. The highlights of the evening were hors d'oeuvres (Anns Lou's delicious chip dip and kate's taco salad), wine and tequila mixers (when the grapefruit and pineapple juice ran out, Apple Slice was substituted) in Gene's van. We spent quite an evening listening to stories about Alice Springs and Patagonia, while the wind and rain played havoc with all moveable objects outside the van (the ground cloth for my tent is probably in Tampico by now). Sunday morning, we sidehilled the southern ridge, over a lot of bumps, to Jacumba. We were back at the cars at eleven (2 1/2 hrs. rt.) and upon departing the camp spot, were absolutely amazed at Ted's ability to maneuver his camper up over the wet, rough hill that had previously caused the other 2-wheel vehicles to stall.

An interesting side-trip also off the In-Ko-Pah Road, is a visit to the Desert Tower and accompanying caves, now a state historic landmark. In the 1930's, an artist carved about thirty animal and fantasy figures out of the stone in the caves, now considered to be one of the finest examples of California folk art. It costs one dollar to see the caves and to walk the winding staircase to the top of the Desert Tower (the dollar includes an antiquated pair of binoculars). Thanks to everyone for a great trip!

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