My friend and I slept in our vehicles at Valley of the Moon Trailhead the night prior. Due to my late flight I did not arrive at the trailhead until well after midnight. Border patrol did on a couple occasions make their presence known but did not verbally engage us. We woke up shortly after sunrise and prepared a leisurely breakfast with much-needed coffee.
I'd rented a high-clearance pickup, so we were able to drive a pretty good distance up the road. Neither my friend nor I had ever seen roads quite like this, with occasional blacktop separated by long stretches of deeply-rutted road. (The blacktop, we soon realized, was to prevent established culverts from washing out). Eventually the road got rough enough even for the truck so we had to park. Not much farther up the road, we came upon a couple of fairly well-established campsites with a fire pit. It looks like this is a popular area for cragging.
The road petered out about 2/3 mile after the saddle where we parked, and there was a fairly well-estabished footpath from there that faded in and out. Still the summit area was pretty obvious.
We first headed to the border where a tall obelisk demarcates the line just beyond a barbed-wire fence that at this point would not keep out cattle. From there we hit the three contenders for the summit. Eyeballing it, we both felt the 3rd and final bump to the north is the highest point. This is also where the benchmark and summit register can be found. Very near the 3rd bump, I'd come upon a couple empty water bottles and, as I usually do with trash, picked them up and shoved them in my pack. A few yards later, in cracks between boulders that make up the 3rd bump, we came upon a larger cache of plastic bottles, some empty and some full. At this point I took out the bottles I had shoved in my pack and placed them with the rest of the cache. Wherever one stands on the discussion of immigration, fellow sojourners in the desert deserve the compassion of a cold cup of water.
For what it is worth we did not see another soul from the moment we left Valley of the Moon Trailhead -- border patrol, climber/hiker, or otherwise -- though of course I-8 traffic was within view for much of those first couple miles driving up the road.
This area is exceptionally beautiful, and we enjoyed the rest of the day checking out the beauty and oddities of Anza-Borrego and Salton Sea.
OK...easy is relative.First there are many dirt roads. Make sure you head east...almost a 180 degree turn as you come off the old highway near the information kiosk (which is just a sign board with some posted info). You will be immediately greeted by the Border Patrol which is a nice thing since I solo climbed and could easily have gotten in trouble. Seriously if you have a non 4wd vehicle you will not make it passed the power lines going up the hill. I would hate to have to try and turn around once you begin the ascent, the road has not been whole for many years. Park in a pullout and start walking.If you follow the road up you will see the radio tower to your right. The trail is the easy part...ita finding the correct peak that's tricky. The use trails are not obvious and practically non existent. I am sure that there may have been a better way, but I ended up bushwhacking and scrambling the whole way. All and the peaks are all nearly the same height so finding the right one without GPS can be tricky. I ended up the wrong peak two away. Thank goodness Gary Suttles book took the pic of the peak from the east facing west so I was able to match it up and figure out where I needed to be. Pro Tip...some nice person has jammed two pieces of wood in an X at the peak. Didn't realize this until afterwards but a good mark to look for. Water was a real issue. I had a gallon and still ran out on the descent. Another hour or two in the sun and I might have been in real trouble. All in all very fun in retrospect but in the moment a little hairy.
Did some climbing/exploring in Valley of the Moon the day prior, and bagged this the morning after our campout. Light dusting of snow, great views of probably one of the coolest spots I've seen in Socal. Checked out the border and illegally crossed a few times, how could you not want to?
Spent the night at the Jacumba Hot Springs, a neat little place thats only 10 minutes from the TH for Blue Angels. Started directly under the power lines, easy enough to navigate first to Monument 231 then up to peak. Back to the car without incident, although on the drive on the dirt road out I passed a border patrol jeep, he picked up his binoculars and checked me out, I waved, he waved back. Then back on I-8 there was a border control check point, I was randomly selected for additional scrutiny for some reason, although that only consisted of a guard staring into my empty back seat for a few seconds before letting me continue on.
2nd time worked out. Despite vague & confusing directions, both physical & web-based, did it this time. Left Gixxer at 16.07. Numerous references to both SP directions, as well as those from Gerry Roach (glad I found his- a bona fide guidebook author!) got me where I needed to go. Once you get past the traffic on the 8, not to mention the power lines, it's sparse yet beautiful country. Ducked into Mexico 'cause I could :) Back at the bike at 19.36. Just 5 left now...
Hiked through the Valley of the Moon then up to Blue Angels Peak, awesome views into Mexico. The Summit with the marker is the farthest from the border of the three Summits, go figure is was the last one I climbed.
Hiked from the Smuggler's Cave Road. I was followed back to my car by a border patrol helicopter, which was fine by me because I was content to have them scare off anyone else who might be lurking.
I was surprised to see that Gary Suttle had signed the summit register on the same day that i hike this peak.
I wasnt shot at, but it was close. Border patrol are some interesting folks...
Nice ramble around the border on a mild winter day. Couldn't find it at first after getting confused by the dirt roads, then found the trail and climbed 2 false summits before finally locating the USGS marker. Great views into Mexico, Imperial and San Diego counties.
This was the third priority for this day. We chose it because the weather was horrible for the higher priority hikes. But it was good to get another county highpoint. My sister-in-law is a great hiker, so between the two of us my wife sometimes feels compelled to get out for a hike. Wish it were more often!
Parked my car just beyond the powerlines and walked up. Very nice stroll and excellent views. Tagging the border monument was a plus too! Border Patrol saw me twice, very nice and courteous guys looking out for me. The Valley of the Moon looks like it merits a repeat visit as well!
Was able to drive to the end of the road, 0.3 mi away from the summit. Made a quick trip to the summit and monument, then out. Border patrol asked me about some unoccupied cars parked strangely halfway up the road, but didn't give me any hassle.
I did this one on my way to San Diego with my family to catch a cruise ship to Cabo San Lucas. My wife and kids waited in the van while I hiked in the remaining .40 miles (per my GPS). I visited all 3 candidate highpoints, found the benchmark and visited border monument #231. I didn't find the register.
Fun desert climb. Loved the border fence. US Border Patrol "caught" us on the way down.
Valley of the Moon first and then climbed up Blue Angels Peak from the east on the way back. Tagged several others before finally coming across the Smuggler bench marks. Found 1/2 of the register can but the register and other half of the can were missing. Trash everywhere but still a fun and enjoyable climb. Photos of My Blue Angels Peak Trip
I talked my brother's-in-laws to take me on this excursion while out in Laguna Hills for Thanksgiving. There were grumblings when they realized how long a drive it was. Two of my in-laws bailed when they saw it, and left just one brother-in-law, my son and I to hike the peak, while they checked out El Centro. Well, we were not on the correct route but still managed to find the peak and all the other bumps while not sure if we were in Mexico or not. Even went to the border marker. On the way down....gunshots!! Several bullets whizzed overhead. Automatic fire as well. I remember hitting the ground when the first ones came over. It turns out a group of pickups were parked lower in the sagebrush and a bunch of guys were cowboying it up with their guns. We were hunkered over the rest of the way down to the desert floor where my two brother-in-laws were waiting after a less than memorable day in El Centro.
Was a little weird being by myself out there. Had to use GPS to find the correct peak. Found the smuggler marker and then tagged two other nearby peaks to make sure I covered the highpoint. Border patrol had the road blocked on my way out, but they waived me through. A very interesting area......one of the more memorable cohp's!
Second time was actually quite the charm. My first attempt I was turned back since my family got nervous hearing the distant and frequent gunshots coming from across the border.
Beautiful day due to mild temperatures, light winds and really nice views to the west and south into ol' Mejico. Little dusty to the north and east due to the light Santa Ana conditions. Abundant game (illegal?) trails and my reliable GPS made finding the summit a snap. Made the token illegal excursion across the pathetic border fence to see Marker 231. Next task, finding the "back road" to Hot Springs Mountain. God bless Google Earth because I think I've found it!