Orocopia Mountains, Ryan Mountain


By: Wynne Benti


Andy & Wynne Zdon

I think we woke up around 3:00am, but actually didn't crawl out of bed 'til 4:00 in the morning--all I remember was that it was too early. After numerous false starts and many stops, we got out to the trailhead for Orocopia. The directions in the DPS peak guide, for road and trail, were right on the money. The weather was clear, sunny and warm out of the wind. A nice walk for the couch spuds that we are. The views were spectacular from the summit--you could see the dead floating fish atop the surface of the Salton Sea, the Algodones Dunes, San Gorgonio and San Jacinto. We sat down for a moment to enjoy the view. When Andy got up, much to our chagrin, there was a flattened horned toad where he had just been sitting. Further examination proved that the desiccated lizard, its internal organs merely dust to the wind, had died prior to being sat upon.

After sipping some sodas back at the car, we drove to Joshua Tree stopping briefly at the visitor’s center to flash our Golden Eagle pass at the rangers and to check out the books. Some climber in the parking lot was playing (appropriately) U2’s Joshua Tree album and we spotted Bob Cates’ Joshua Tree trail guide on the shelves of the store.

En route to Ryan (on the HPS list), we stopped at the ocotillo and cholla patches. I did a quick watercolor of Pinto Mountain from the ocotillo patch while Andy read excerpts from “Helter Skelter.” This was the first time I had seen the ocotillo in bloom. By the time we got on the trail to Ryan (passing Bob & Maureen Cates on the road!), it was almost 3:30pm and the desert shadows were growing long. Despite the cold wind, it was a nice walk to the summit through indigo shadows and warm rich afternoon sun. After our hike, we enjoyed a nice supper at Carrow's in Yucca Valley before heading back to Los Angeles. It was a short, but sweet trip. -- Wynne Benti

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