Castle Dome Peak, Rosa Point


By: Wynne Benti


Friday night and the I-10 on a 3-day weekend. Every RV in town was on its way out to the desert, towing trailers loaded down with multiple ATVs, stacked every which way. We arrived at the road turn-off for Castle Dome around 1 am, drove in about 4 miles, and laid out the bags for a few hours of shut-eye. Up at first light, a quick bite, then off to the road end. The area was a popular spot with the Arizona locals -- a family or boy scout group camped around every corner. "Trailboss" Bob (fondly nick-named after Jack Palance's role in "City Slickers") led the route to the peak, getting us to the top in about an hour and a half. Along the way, someone had spray painted large yellow or red arrows on various rocks to show the route -a rather disappointing sight.

From Castle Dome, we drove down to Yuma, then over to El Centro - back up to Borrego Springs. There were RVs all over the open desert outside of Anza Borrego State Park. Guys in their off-road "Manson Mobiles" (dunebuggies - one of Charlie's favorite desert assault vehicles) tearing up the dust on the dry lakes just as the wind would pick up in the afternoon. We had dinner in town, then found a nice camp spot in the desert, just far enough away from the RVs, to see them but not hear them.

Rosa Point. Up before dawn. Breakfast. Then over to the trailhead where we were hoping to meet up with the Bruce and Paula Petersen. We had left a message at their hotel in Indio to meet an hour earlier, due to the heat wave that had hit southern California that weekend. We found out later that they never got the message. Joe Young was supposedly leading Rosa as a HPS day hike that day, so we figured that they would hook up with Joe and we'd eventually meet them along the trail.

We took the canyon route to the ridge and moved along to the summit. Tick heaven all the way up - three of the scoundrels crawling on my legs. On the way back, ran into Bruce, Paula, Barry Holchin and some other fellow. Joe Young had a sprained ankle, so canceled his trip.

Back at the cars at noon, we hung out for awhile at the trailhead then went in to Borrego Springs. Had a good lunch at the Circle Restaurant (full bar) located on the traffic circle in town. We checked out the visitor's center and campground at Indianhead (FULL) and went back out to the camp spot in the desert. Some dude was ripping up the dry lake in his pick-up, kicking up a tremendous dust cloud, that blew our way. Sights like that remind me why the desert bill passed. We had a nice campfire - beer, wine - around a presto log after the sun set.

Dawn. Actually, five am. Alarm rings. Up. Eat. Drive to Indianhead trailhead, through full campground. Stopped to get a day permit for $5.00. The overnight campsite charge was $14.00 - solar heated showers, flush toilets. We took the longer route through Palm Canyon - thickly forested with large palms. The ground in places was covered with fronds - so thick that we found ourselves slipping just trying to maneuver over them. The creek was full and flowing into deep pools. We left the canyon and walked the west ridge to the summit. Nice view of the Toro to Villager ridge that I walked years ago with Dale, Joe Young, Bobcat Thompson, Carolyn West and Randy Danta.

We returned by the shorter, steeper route, down the route "A" gully back to the Palm Canyon trail. There was a good number of cacti and agave on this route, but certainly not the most I've ever seen on a peak (Jamison Mitchell is worsel). We reached the trail and it was packed with la touristas -- a real mob scene. Headed back to L.A. on I-JO through the dust-covered masses of RVs and their ATV totes. It was a great weekend in the desert. Thanks to Bob Sumner for getting me to the countdown.

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