Birthday Hike! Indian Hill and Moan Benchmark

Today, for my birthday, I decided to go on a hike, traversing another section of the larger hike that I failed to accomplish earlier this weekend. Specifically, I decided to tackle Indian Hill and Moan Benchmark, both within the Jacumba Mountains.

I set out on Saturday to tackle 4 peaks and Goat Canyon Trestle. However, only having completed one of those peaks, I had also prepared to tackle the remaining goals in smaller hikes. I looked at my options this morning, and opted to tackle the northern 2. These are #75 (Indian Hill) and #77 (Moan Benchmark) on the Sierra Club 100 peaks list for San Diego.

I have updated the GPX track to Google Drive, as usual.

IMG_3275With that introduction stated, I drove over to the same area, down Montero Wash. However, I wanted to get as close to the two peaks as possible, so I began exploring some of the other roads headed northward near the railroad tracks. Of the two that I explored, one ended in a 4WD obstacle well beyond the capabilities of Tivona and I. The other required 4WD and high clearance, but I was able to navigate Tivona over those areas safely. I ended at a section with a guardrail, where I parked and headed out “on the trail”.

IMG_3288Of course, the entire path had no true trails, but the start provided a good sandy path up to a point that I opted to diverge, wandering the desert in a general direction towards Indian Hill. The ground got progressively more rocky and solid as I kept moving, eventually turning into a scramble all of the way up to Indian Hill Peak.

There’s no obvious path, but I followed along the eastern side, finding my way to the summit, where I found the summit register quite obvious. The whole summit area, and a lot of the surrounding area, was full of evidence of the Kumeyaay people who once called this whole area home. Mortars and other artifacts littered the whole hill! This would actually be a theme of the entire hike, and it was really amazing!

After reaching that summit, however, I continued on, wandering my way towards Moan Peak. I saw a few paths that looked reasonable, but I just headed on up, after making my way to the valley between.

IMG_3294 The way up was a confusing scramble, really. However, paths were quite obvious on the path that I took, again on the eastern slopes. Some paths looked like they would prove significantly more difficult, but I didn’t really try them. The whole way was a scramble, but never terribly difficult; just slow moving! And the entire time, more and more artifacts of the Kumeyaay people kept showing up!

One high point as I traversed my way up the mountainside was particularly full of the Kumeyaay artifacts. Although a moderately difficult climb to that point and through it, it was amazingly interesting, and entirely worth the climb.

IMG_3296From this point, I turned my way south. The climb from here was primarily easy. Until I ran into a false summit! I thought I was reaching the summit, only to have the class 5 climb face of Moan staring at me!

I had a fit of anger at the mountain, but continued on. I found that I had to do a near circle around the summit to find a way up. There is bound to be a much easier path than the one that I took, but the way I took was awfully fun, and really interesting!

IMG_3306Finally, when I reached the benchmark, finding the summit register right next to it, I was able to take my first view at an amazingly unique and special view at the Carrizo Gorge, along with view out to the eastern desert opposite it.

The peak was painfully windy today, so I didn’t stay too long, opting to seek shelter behind the boulders strewn about, before I headed down.

Of course, for my way down, I thought, “Why not try another route?” So, I headed down what looked like an obvious way down the eastern slopes, south of the way I traversed up.

IMG_3315This may have turned into a mistake. Although the route looked easy and obvious, it wouldn’t stay that way. At first it was. But the boulders kept getting bigger and more difficult to traverse. Eventually I hit a point that pushed my limits, as I traversed a section with some pretty awfully dangerous points.

Ultimately, I made it safely down, ecstatic to find the wash that would lead me all the way back to the car. I would certainly not advise attempting to climb my descent route; it is probably not even possible without some much more technical climbing and rope. The route down was workable, but strenuous and dangerous at times.

It was an exciting trek today! A wonderful way to spend my birthday! And, of course, follows a gallery full of pictures I took today!


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