This Onion can make a grown man cry

General Palm Springs area.

This Onion can make a grown man cry

Postby zippetydude » Mon Mar 03, 2014 5:40 pm

Unfortunately, I'm not talking about the vegetable kind. I'm talking about that #%^%$ rock. First, the good news: I made it. That's it for the good news.

Now for the rest of the story. This had been a difficult exploration from the start, from trying to find a route that wouldn't get me arrested to trying to avoid impenetrable brush. Then a couple weeks ago I found a very plausible route by going up Cabazon and then turning east along the ridge line. Well, I repeated that route on Sunday, but it was right after the rain, and the fairly sandy soil was now soft wet sand. Picture climbing 4000' up a steep slope of soft wet sand. Sort of the old "One step up and two steps back" type of experience. Still, I was determined to get there and see that thing. I wanted to get some good shots of it, to climb it if possible, and to take in the views from the top.

I got to the ridge and began my traverse. Almost immediately I came across fresh mountain lion scat. I was traveling alone, miles from the nearest human being. It was spooky. As I went along, it began to rain on me. My glasses got all wet and I could see very little more than a blur. So if a large predator wanted to sneak up on me, it was going to be very easy for him.

The ridge line is a series of minor peaks with saddles in between them. To circumvent the peaks, I would have to descend a couple hundred feet to drop below the rocky outcroppings, then climb up again. Very interesting terrain, but climbing wet sand was kinda wearing thin. Oddly, the closer I got to the Onion, the smaller it seemed to be getting. It was seeming less and less impressive the closer I got. I've never encountered that before, so I was surprised by this. The final 1/2 mile was totally overgrown, and in places I would simply lean hard and press my body through the 6' high oak and bushes. It took me almost an hour to fight through that last bit, but at last I was within maybe 100 yards of the rock.

Then it happened. The fog rolled in from the west. Thick, pea soup fog.

Image
DSCN6593 by zippetydude, on Flickr

With a little drizzle. I covered the last few feet, and stood before a large rock, of which I could only see a small portion. I could not see the top. All I could think was, "Of course!" I went around to the far side and the fog cleared a little.

Image
DSCN6587 by zippetydude, on Flickr

Image
DSCN6590 by zippetydude, on Flickr

I took a couple of pictures, then climbed the rock to the top. The back side is easily climbed with no technical gear. Here's a shot of the part I climbed.

Image
DSCN6588 by zippetydude, on Flickr

I took a picture from the top, but all it shows is a little of the dome and the rest is fog. Of course.

Image
DSCN6592 by zippetydude, on Flickr

My next thought was about getting back. The fog was all around me now, and it occurred to me that I might have trouble finding my way once I got into the brush because the fog can be disorienting. Bingo. I was maybe a couple hundred feet from the rock and I looked up and thought "I have no idea which way is east or west, north or south. I ran into a lot of dead ends, and I began to wonder if I was about to spend the night up there. However, it was easier to fight through the brush going downhill, so I eventually made it through to the more open parts of the ridge.

Anyway, after 7 hard hours with no breaks I made it back to my car, just before it got dark. Here's what it looked like looking back up.

Image
DSCN6598 by zippetydude, on Flickr

Here's a shot looking back up at the mountain. The rock is a couple thousand feet up into the clouds by this time. It was a tough trip, but it would have been totally worth it if the fog had not rolled in. Ah well, I guess I'll just have to go back...

One final note. The vegetation is just starting to respond to the rain, but already tiny wildflowers and lush green grass are beginning to appear. Despite my bad luck (or bad judgment!) on this particular day, it really is a spectacular area to explore.

z
Last edited by zippetydude on Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: This Onion can make a grown man cry

Postby HH8 » Mon Mar 03, 2014 6:39 pm

zippetydude wrote:Unfortunately, I'm not talking about the vegetable kind. I'm talking about that #%^%$ rock.


Sounds about perfect for making stone soup ;-)
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Postby Robert Hunt » Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:37 pm

From a readers perspective, this story just keeps getting better & better. At least you didn't come up on cougar tracks in the fog that weren't there on your way up. You finally get to it & you can't see it! I hope that when you reach it again, it's great weather & you find a can of gold coins or something.
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Essential!

Postby halhiker » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:00 pm

I looked up and thought "I have no idea which way is east or west, north or south."

Isn't this why it's considered essential to carry a compass?
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Postby zippetydude » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:41 pm

I had one! What I meant was if I can't tell even which direction I'm pointing in due to limited visibility, how am I going to find my serpentine path back through the bushwhack zone?

Incidentally, this one seems like one you might like hal, no trail, nothing but wilderness.

z
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Postby Robert Hunt » Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:31 pm

Seriously Z, even tho it may not meet all of your built-up expectations, you gotta string together all these posts & photos when you feel you have finally peeled the onion. Multiple seasons, large carnivores, dashed hopes, potential orientation issues...I laughed, I cried...I cried laughing. Robert
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Postby physicslord » Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:10 pm

Yeah Zip, this has been one of the best series of trip reports in ages. I love it.

I read a lot of mountaineering journals, and you know, some of the best are when the guys says "we reached the summit of the 8000 meter peak, after years of preparation, and we were fogged in". You know that's what life is all about. Some of it is luck.
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Postby bluerail » Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:13 pm

its easy to take a picture of a rock in the fog and call it something special zip.

I want more proof, pretty convenient you picked such a foggy day.

hope you didnt loose too much blood and youre scars are healing.
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Postby zippetydude » Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:23 pm

Thanks Robert and physicslord. I didn't know if anyone was even following along! It has been a journey. Your posts help me see the humor in it, which wasn't all that apparent standing there in the fog.

bluerail: A wise guy, eh? Hey buddy, I'll take you up there personally! I can't run right now with my knee being pesky, but I've got some hikin' left in me. I've got a slightly different route I want to try out, maybe on Sunday? I can barely walk right now, but if the knee calms down I'll be there. Whaddya say?

Actually, that's an open invitation if there are others who would like to give it a shot.

z
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Postby bluerail » Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:53 pm

this sunday? I may be in!

...i just dont want to end up crying.
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