Summits: 1340

February 19, 2012

Diablo (SDC #53, 2460′) • mapdirections*

When Matt and I parted ways early Sunday morning, I actually decided to go back to sleep. We had camped in Oyster Shell wash near Split Mountain, the focus of yesterday’s adventures, and the wind had picked up big time through the night.  Having slept in my tent in the bed of my truck, I hadn’t slept much of anything the latter half of the night. So I climbed into the passenger side of my truck and managed to get back to sleep until 9:30 am. When I arose for good, I cleaned up my gear, toasted myself a bagel, and took my time making a cup of coffee. The previous day had been text-book perfect, but now it must have been gusting to 35mph or so, even in the narrow canyon where we had camped. I was slightly concerned about how the wind would be on Diablo, but I wasn’t expecting to be on open slopes or anything exposed for very long anyhow.

Diablo was the last SDC peak I had in the area, and I was expecting it to be a walk in the park, so I took my sweet time. I had a whole day to kill, and was supposed to be taking it easy, coming back from a knee injury and all. I sat in the bed of my truck for a spell, while I milked the last few sips of my coffee. Eventually I grew satisfied and made the long drive over dirt roads to the entrance to Sandstone Canyon, a fun drive I’d done just last December. That last time, I passed Sandstone Canyon to head up to Hapaha Flat, but this time I would actually drive right inside the popular Anza Borrego destination. The turnoff was marked with a small sign, and soon I was driving between sheer walls, even narrow in some spots. The drive itself did not disappoint, one of the coolest places I’ve driven, that’s for sure. I eventually parked my truck just before a paint-scraped squeeze between a rock and a hard place about a mile deep within Sandstone Canyon, right at about 11:30am.


Driving Sandstone Canyon


My parking spot in Sandstone Canyon


Walking through Sandstone Canyon

I walked briskly through Sandstone Canyon, enjoying the imposing walls and unique features (though my favorite Borrego slots are further north ;)). After about a mile through the canyon, I started looking for a way out and onto the slopes of Diablo. I walked a few minutes past a sign that prohibited further vehicle progress and reached an area where the vertical walls were missing, instead being a rocky slope that might just do the trick. I started right up, and was looking back down into Sandstone Canyon in a matter of 5 or so minutes.


Looking up at my exit for Sandstone Canyon, towards Diablo BM


Looking back down into Sandstone Canyon

I marked my location with the GPS so that I could get back down into Sandstone the way I came up, and started up towards Diablo. At just .4 miles and 500 feet of gain away, it looked like little more than a desert hill. I hoofed it up the steep slopes, and though the ground was kind of loose, it was easy to spot good footing and make good time. I reached the top in less than an hour from the truck, and found a geocache, thinking it was the register. The geocache had a new watchband (still in the packaging) and a sealed package of Napoleon Dynamite mints contained within, but I put it back rather quickly and walked over to the southern end of Diablo, where I found the traditional two-can summit register.


Near the top of Diablo




Looking north towards Whale Peak


Looking south-east, Sandstone Canyon is the deep scar on the left

The wind throughout the hike had been almost nonexistent, but I was getting hammered on the exposed ridge that was Diablo BM. I took a video to capture the moment and started descending just a few minutes after I had arrived, leaving the wind to pick on someone else. I didn’t have too much of a problem finding my way back into Sandstone Canyon without consulting the GPS, and dropped back in just 20 minutes after leaving Diablo. I spoke briefly with a family from Poway who had hiked a few miles up Sandstone, and I stopped to explore a side slot canyon but didn’t get too far. Once back at the truck, I took my time packing up, and drove back out into the Fish Creek wash before I pulled over to change my clothes and get something to drink. I stalled for quite some time, enjoying every last minute I could in the desert. After time off with an injury, it had a been some time since I had been able to hike consecutive days in Borrego, and it was good to be back.


A nice Cholla garden on the slopes of Diablo


A tributary of Sandstone Canyon


Views on the way out – Whale on the horizon on the left, Vallecito on the right


Diablo stats: 3.0 miles roundtrip, 800 feet gain/loss

*-the driving directions get you to the entrance to Sandstone Canyon