|November 27, 2010|
When Anna and I arrived at the base of Coyote Mountain, it was 8:55 am and it was just starting to warm up outside. We had parked on a faint road that parelleled the well-groomed Rockhouse Truck trail, due east from the start of a steep ridge leading to Coyote's summit. There was what looked like some kind of a mine with some large machinery between the base of Coyote and Clark Dry Lake, but not a soul around.
Coyote Mountain from the southeast
Recorded by my truck en route to Coyote
The southeast ridge of coyote, running from left to upper right
Anna and I hiked half a mile across the desert floor to the base of the ridge leading up to Coyote, noting how much cooler it was than the last time we had been out just a few weeks ago. Just as we started up the ridge, I spotted what I think was a Red-tailed Hawk, and I crept up as best I could to grab a photo. I wished I had my DSLR with me with its long zoom lens, but I was still able to grab a shot before the hawk noticed me and flew off.
Anna about halfway up the ridge, Clark Dry Lake below.
The ridge was steep and direct, and a faint use trail ran along most of it. There was Teddy-Bear Cholla and huge Ocotillo along the entire route, and Clark Dry Lake was visible for most of the hike, giving a great perspective as to how much elevation we were gaining. We found the summit register at 10:25, in just 90 nonstop minutes from the truck. There was an unusual sign on Coyote's huge rounded summit, and we enjoyed great views of Rabbit and Villager peaks to the east, El Toro to the north, and the San Ysidro mountains to the west. We spent a good ten minutes on top and reversed the route, pounding a liter of gatorade in the truck en route to the next hike.
Palm was a peak that Anna and I had been thwarted on 2 weeks previous, more for a lack of time than anything. This time though, we were getting started a few hours earlier (1pm) and had nothing else planned for the rest of the day. We decided to head towards the west side of the mountain, exploring both the Truckhaven Rocks and what looked to be an enormous yet unnamed wash running along the west side of Palm.
We parked on a wide shoulder along the S22 and started walking north, keeping the Truckhaven Rocks on our left and entering the most prominent wash on the left side of Palm. We crossed many small intersecting washes and slot canyons along the way, and poked our head into a few of them before catching ourselves and refocusing on the task at hand. One could spend hours exploring just this small area.
Anna hiking inside the wash on the west side of Palm
Bighorn sheep footprints
One of the many small slots intersecting the main wash
About two miles from the car the wash ended, and Anna and I continued north up a cactus-covered slope to a saddle just northwest of Palm. From the saddle we continued southeast towards Palm, eventually getting onto a sharp ridge leading to its summit. We could see back towards the long south ridge of Pyramid Peak, along with the rest of the ridge that we were on, which seemed to have fallen apart near the summit. The ridge was pretty rotten and we took extra caution on a few surprisingly narrow segments.
Anna, having just climbed out of the end of the wash, Pyramid far behind
Anna bypassing a rock and dirt gendarme on the ridge
Just a hundred feet below the summit, we traversed to our right and into a narrow chute that sliced partway through the ridge. The chute was steep and choked full of loose rock and dirt, and we used our hands on the sides to help with upward progress. Sometimes whatever I grabbed on to would just crumble, and I made sure that Anna wasn't directly below me in case I sent some rocks here way. It was easy to imagine large pieces of the ridge falling away in the next el nino or big earthquake, but I failed to mention that to Anna, who was not the biggest fan of our current location. At the top of the narrow chute with Anna close behind, I mantled my way up onto a flat surface just a few minute's walk from the summit register, placed (and primarily signed) by Wes Shelberg over 30 years ago. He was the man!
The summit register on Palm
After signing us both into the summit register, I dropped back into the chute and led us back onto the narrow ridge and down into the wash. We took our sweet time getting back to the truck, admiring the torn up earth in this part of the desert and stopping to get some pictures of the Truckhaven Rocks and Palm. Once back at the truck, we drove into Borrego Springs for dinner at Carlee's for the second time this month, and again put down some good burgers while watching karaoke. After soaking up some warmth from the bar, we drove to our camp for the night, just off the highway near the start of tomorrow's hike.
Myself heading down from the summit of Palm
Looking back at Anna, just below the summit of Palm
Palm's summit and the narrow chute running from right to left (taken on the descent)
Near where we gained the ridge (taken on the descent)
Truckhaven Rocks, 3 guys on top
Truckhaven Rocks and Palm
Coyote stats: 4.5 miles roundtrip, 2600 feet gain/loss
Palm stats: 5.7 miles roundtrip, 1800 feet gain/loss