Combs Peak

View of Combs Peak from the Pacific Crest Trail near Chihuahua Valley, California. May 2020.

When we recently had a day with cooler temperatures (mid May 2020), I took the opportunity to hike Combs Peak, which lies in the higher elevation back country of San Diego County’s north-eastern quadrant (interestingly, this area is part of Anza Borrego Desert State Park).

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Red Hill

The approach to Red Hill, in the Volcanic Hills/Jojoba Wash area of Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California. March 2020.

When Shuwen and I went for a Sunday drive in the desert, we stopped at an unnamed dirt parking area along Highway S2 and wandered around a little bit. The number of wildflowers and cacti in bloom was really nice, and so I returned a few days later to hike a little bit in that area. An unnamed wash looked interesting to explore in the satellite imagery. A little bit further, a peak was labelled “Red Hill” on the map. And yet a little bit further from that, a spot was marked “Piepkorn Slot”.

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Boucher Hill

The fire lookout tower at Boucher Hill, Palomar Mountain, California. May 2019.

Boucher Hill, the fire lookout with Palomar Mountain State Park, is perhaps one of the most “ridiculous” peaks that is included in the 100 Peaks list — you can drive right up there! In fact, I have been there a couple of times already in the past: when visiting the park and paying the entrance fee, it would be almost foolish to NOT drive up there to take in the views.

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Diablo Benchmark

Early in January, my friend Hans and I got together to “bag” yet another peak from the Sierra Club’s 100 peaks list for San Diego County: Diablo Benchmark in southern Anza Borrego Desert State Park. On the list, this is peak number 53. For Hans, it was a repeat ascent of course, since he has hiked all 100 peaks already.

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Grapevine Mountain

Summit register of Grapevine Mountain, with Granite Mountain as a backdrop

On December 20th I met fellow photographer and Twitter friend Philip Constant for lunch in Julian while he was here in San Diego County. We opted for an early lunch to beat the crowds in (always busy) Julian. This left me pretty close to Anza Borrego Desert State Park of course, and made me wonder whether I could maybe get in a hike afterwards, and bag another list peak. I picked Grapevine Mountain (peak #32 on the Sierra Club’s list), which lies northeast of Scissors Crossing in one of the wilderness areas of Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

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Wilson Benchmark & Pinyon Ridge

View to Wilson Benchmark from Pinyon Ridge high point, with the Salton Sea in the distance. Anza Borrego, California. December 2018.

To escape the general madness of the civilized world, the particular madness of the civilized world before THE holidays, and to counter the introversion-related overload from too many social commitments during this time of the year, I decided to try and “bag” one peak from the Sierra Club’s 100 Peaks list per week. In the cooler months of the year I’m choosing desert peaks, even though the longer drive out, the short amount of daylight, and sometimes also the weather can be a bit of an obstacle – my hike to Palm Benchmark one week earlier reminded me of that. 🙂

On December 14th, I hiked peaks #29 and #30 from the list – those are Peak 4614 at an elevation of guess what, 4614 feet or 1406 meters (also known as the high point of Pinyon Ridge), and Wilson Benchmark at 4586 feet/1397 meters. Bagging the two of them means I hiked 30 out of the 100 list peaks now.

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