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Author: Subject: Jorge and Dez Rat---Picacho 2005
Desert Rat
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[*] posted on 5-3-2006 at 09:48 PM
Jorge and Dez Rat---Picacho 2005


While waiting for Bajaandy's trip report, I'm challenging myself to finish our trip report that was due last year at this time. Hope to finish before he gets back. He will have a story to tell. My apology to those I had promised a report a lot sooner.


JORGE AND DEZ RAT HIKE DIABLO CANYON

I was standing in the doorway of my motel room (Border Motel) when I saw Don Jorge?s big F-350 pull into the parking area.
Neither of us had met previously, so I gave him a wave and a shout to let him know that he was at the right place.
After a quick ?Howdy-doo? and ?How are you??, we tossed my hiking gear into the rear of the truck and headed for Mexicali and all points south.
The drive to San Felipe allowed plenty of time for in depth introductions, revealing our likes and dislikes, personal and family history, previous hiking trips, etc. By the time we reached the turn-off for El Dorado and Baja Lou?s place, there was little doubt that our personalities were very compatible for the upcoming hike to Picacho del Diablo.
While searching for Lou?s place, we crossed paths with Wornout who then directed us to Lou?s home.
I must apologize to Wornout for not having recognized him on the spot, but many moons had passed since I had I had last seen him. He had played a major part in my first attempt to reach Picacho, as did Baja Lou.
Baja Lou had promised us a bottle of refreshment of our choice as soon as we arrived at his residence. True to his word, a cold bottle of Bohemia and Sol were immediately placed on the patio table for us to sip on while we relaxed from the long drive.
Lou said that lunch would be ready just as soon as Tina returned from a visit with Wornout?s wife, Debbie.
Ten minutes later Tina pulled up and after introducing herself, hustled inside the house to whip up some tasty grub.
As she was bringing out the bean soup, tossed salad, and various side dishes, Jim arrived, and a little later, Wornout showed up with a stack of cold-cut sandwiches.
We all sat at the patio table and made short work of the delicious meal.
Our original plan was to spend the evening and night camped at Lou?s place and then be transported to the Diablo Canyon trailhead early next morning. However, since we were ?chomping at the bit? to start the trip, and it was still early in the afternoon, we asked Lou and his ?posse? if they could run us to the trailhead after lunch.
He said it would be no problem. Within minutes, we were all loaded up in the three vehicles that were going to whisk us away. Lou, Wornout, and Jim were the drivers of the trusty gas-powered, mechanical Baja steeds.

A large dust cloud trailed behind us as we bounced, swayed, and skidded along the sandy, deep-rutted road leading to the Diablo Canyon trailhead. Luckily, I was in the lead vehicle with Baja Lou, so I missed out on the occasional blasts of choking grit and dust that the others were enduring.

Two vehicles were parked near the trailhead when we drove up. I hoped that it meant that others were on their way to Picacho. It?s always nice to have another group in the area in case of an emergency, plus they might have better information concerning the best route up Picacho.

As soon as we stopped and got out of the vehicles, we were hit by swarms of irritating gnats. Jim, Wornout, and I looked like Dutch windmills as we flailed away at the pesky little tormentors. There was no desire for a long, drawn out good-bye and farewell. Just a quick, ?Good-luck, and let?s get the heck outta here!? Off they went, waving ?Adios?as they headed back to El Dorado. A big THANKS goes out to Lou, Wornout, and Jim for getting Jorge and me to the starting line of our canyon adventure.

Before we started up the trail, I took three bottles of water near a large cardon and hid them among a pile of stones. This was to be our water supply when we returned from the canyon. We would have to travel about a mile up the wash before we encountered water. From that point on, there would be a constant supply of water available as we followed the canyon creek.

We were really excited about starting the hike up the canyon. The sky had darkened a bit, threatening to rain, but it didn?t dampen our spirit. I did wonder how it would affect the trail if it did rain, but we would cross that bridge when we came to it---and it didn?t take long. Fifteen minutes into the hike, the rain began to pelt us. Not a sudden storm, but a gradual spitting of raindrops fell. Nothing to do but keep on trudging!

A mile into the canyon, we saw a group of men, women and children headed in our direction. They were out for the day visiting the sparkling, clear water-pools that had been carved into the canyon over a period of ?who knows? how many years of erosion.
We didn?t talk long because they were intent on scurrying out of the canyon before the sky opened up and let loose with a frog-choking torrent of rain. Now we knew that we would be the only hikers in the canyon. We would definitely be relying upon each other and no one else. However, Jorge carried a satellite phone in his backpack in order to call Baja Lou to make arrangements for a pick-up after the hike was over. Naturally, it would be used for an emergency call if needed.

We criss-crossed the creek many times before reaching the ?entrance falls? which was the gateway to the canyon proper. The water level of the creek was fairly high due to the recent snowmelt and the on-going rain. Water was rushing with a powerful force down the chute and over the fall. To get up to the lip of the waterfall, we would have to traverse one of the steep rock walls separated by the falls. A steel cable dangled from the left side of the waterfall. This cable is used by all hikers to scoot across the rock wall and on to the lip of the waterfall.

I suggested to Jorge that I go first since I had made this traverse last year and had no problem with it. It was just a simple matter of boot-scooting in a crab-like manner across the rock face. We dropped our packs in the sand to be hauled up by rope after we reached the top of the fall. I grabbed the cable, leaned back and took a running start toward the lip of the fall. Wrong move! Instead of keeping my body turned facing the wall, I twisted away from the wall and lost my footing on the slick, rain-soaked rock. Still gripping the cable, I dropped several feet and smashed my elbows into the rock wall. As I was dangling several feet above the pool and about to let go, Jorge shouted at me to keep hanging on and try to scoot back toward him and the packs. With my banged-up elbow giving me fits, I managed to work my way back to Jorge.
Jorge said that I shouldn?t have made such a rapid move across the rock. A lesson learned the hard way! While I was checking out the swollen knot on my elbow, Jorge grabbed the cable and cautiously crabbed his way to the lip of the fall. When he was able to keep his balance on the slick rock, he tossed a rope down so I could tie on the backpacks for him to haul up.
Again it was my turn to make the traverse, and this time I successfully made it to the lip of the fall where the strong current was racing down the chute and over the lip of the fall. Standing up in the chute was quite a challenge. Jorge had managed to find his footing, and began to coil the rope as I tried to steady myself on one side of the chute. I slipped and did a belly-flop into the icy water. The current began to push me slowly to the edge of the waterfall, as I tried desperately to find a hand-hold along the wall of the chute. I shouted for Jorge to grab hold of me anywhere and anyway he could. I could see that he was having trouble keeping his balance as he reached for me and I was afraid that we were both going to end up in the deep pool below us.
In all probability nothing bad would have happened to us if we did splash into the awaiting pool, but neither of us wanted to find out.
Just as my feet slipped over the lip of the falls, out of panic, I reached out and snagged Jorge?s leg and held on tight. I don?t know how he managed, but Jorge kept his balance and latched onto my shirt to stop me from going over the falls. He slowly pulled me away from the falls and helped me to my feet. If he had been a girl, I would have kissed him. A handshake and one ?atta-boy? was all he got from me!

(To be continued)

[Edited on 5-4-2006 by Desert Rat]

[Edited on 5-4-2006 by Desert Rat]
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[*] posted on 5-4-2006 at 08:03 AM


Great start Dez - keep it coming

BTW, the Sat phone was Jorge's, not mine




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[*] posted on 5-4-2006 at 08:49 AM


I offered hand held radios - but Jorge had the sat phone. Also Wornout's wife is Debbie



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[*] posted on 5-4-2006 at 02:11 PM
Jorge and Dez Rat (End of day one)


We were now in the mouth of the beast. The walls of the canyon were more pronounced and narrower allowing for no escape except for moving straight ahead or backtracking to the rear. The further we hiked, the higher the walls loomed above us. The drizzle of rain never evolved into the expected storm and soon fizzled out leaving behind a gray sky and a hint of a late evening breeze.
We gathered up our gear and began to follow the creek looking for paths that would give us safe and solid footing. It was tricky trying to walk along the slippery slopes of the smoothly polished, deep bowls that were cut into the center of the canyon. We were doing fine and holding steady as we edged our way along the canyon until----we came upon an exceptionally steep sided bowl which was filled with about four feet of water. Trying to avoid wading through the pool, Jorge began clambering alongside the steep wall. As he leaned on his hiking poles, they lost contact with the rock and skittered downward toward the pool. Naturally Jorge?s weight followed right along with the poles and down he went twisting in the air as he strained to stay out of the water. Gravity won, and Jorge let loose some useless words as he plunged into the water. Under he went, backpack and all. In an instant, he bobbed to the surface and struggled to get to a flatter area to climb out. Out he sloshed, sputtering and fuming as the cold creek water sent waves of chills through his body.
All this happened in an instant and it caught me by surprise as it was happening. I don?t know why we laugh at scenes as this, but as soon as I saw that Jorge was okay, I almost fell over with laughter. It was like some slapstick, pratfall in a Laurel and Hardy comedy. I was also relieved to know that I wasn?t the only klutz on the hike.
Uh oh, it was now my turn to attempt the pool bypass. Was I destined for a slam-dunking too, or could I finesse my way around the water high and dry. One dunking was enough for me; in fact I was almost dry from the first water episode.
I gingerly reached out with my hiking pole and took a step alongside the slope. Another step and another. I felt my boot sole lose their grip on the rock, and sensed the inevitable slide down toward the pool. I began to churn my legs as fast as they could go hoping to reach the other side of the pool before gravity beat me to the punch. I knew I shouldn?t have laughed at Jorge?s misfortune! The shock of hitting the icy water took my breath away. I hit bottom and bounced back up only to slip and go under again. Oh brother what a way to start our first day of hiking!
I climbed out of the pool and joined up with Jorge. We were completely soaked. With the added weight of a pound or two of water-sodden clothes, we picked up our hiking poles and forged ahead. The breeze that had been blowing earlier had now become a strong wind. In fact the wind had become so powerful, it began to knock us off balance at times as we hopped from stone to stone. It wasn't long before both of us began to shiver as the wind blew over our wet clothes. If we didn?t stop and change into dry clothes, we could develop symptoms of hypothermia . We took a break and removed our wet shirts and put on fleece jackets. With the warmth of the jackets, and the heat generated by hiking, we managed to ward off hypothermia.
It was now approaching five o?clock and darkness wasn?t far off. Time to look for a decent campsite. Luck was with us! We found an ideal spot tucked away behind several huge boulders that blocked the ever-increasing wind. There was no way that we could build a campfire as the forceful gusts of wind changed directions constantly.
We quickly set up our sleeping arrangements and ate the cold-cut meat sandwiches that Wornout had given us. They sure hit the spot. We sat up and talked waiting for the full moon to show its face. We were looking forward to seeing the canyon illuminated by the brilliant light of the moon, and we weren?t disappointed. We watched the eastern wall of the canyon waiting to catch the first glimpse of the moon as it slowly peeked over the wall. The darkness was gradually swept away as the moon crawled higher and higher into the night-sky. The canyon had been converted into our own desert bedroom with Mother Nature providing the moon as our personal nightlight. Wow, what a day and what a night!
(to be continued)

[Edited on 5-4-2006 by Desert Rat]
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[*] posted on 5-4-2006 at 04:10 PM
Great stuff, Desert Rat-----


---------that canyon is something else--------Andy is now going to be convinced that he made the right decision to approach from Blue Bottle :lol:

Keep them coming------great story, well written.
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[*] posted on 5-4-2006 at 11:18 PM
Jorge and Dez Rat---Day 2


Day 2---Last night was a night to remember. Jorge had crammed himself into his lightweight bivy sack and I had zipped myself inside my one-man bivy tent. It was time for snoozeville. The canyon wasn?t going to make it easy for us to drift off to la-la-land. During the night, the canyon directed a violent Diablo wind into our supposedly cozy, protected campsite with the intention of blowing us away. My tent was constantly being buffeted by intermittent blast of wind threatening to tear the tent ropes from the stones to which they were tied. All night long my ears were treated to the sound of the tent fabric popping as it was being whipped to and fro by the ruthless wind. Grains of sand were sandblasting the tent trying to find a way inside.
I wondered how it was affecting Jorge. Since I hadn?t heard a peep of sound from him, I assumed he was coping with the situation with no problem. It wouldn?t surprise me if I found Jorge and his bivy half covered with sand when it was all over.
Exhaustion finally came to my rescue and whispered in my ear, ?Ignore the bedlam going on about you. When I count to three, you will fall asleep. One, two, thrrrrrr.?

I woke up to a zipping sound as Jorge worked his way out of his bivy. The morning sky was bright and clear. The canyon was peacefully quiet. What happened to the wind? Where and when did it go? The wind had sailed away and left us with a beautiful day in its wake.
We looked around and saw several items of our camp gear scattered about the area. It took me fifteen minutes or so to locate my socks that had been hung in a nearby tree to dry. After rounding up our windblown gear, we ate a quick breakfast and packed up for round two of our hike. We couldn?t have asked for a better day. Not too hot, nice breeze, cold water on tap, and all the time in the world. This was our day to relax and enjoy whatever good things the canyon had to offer.
The entire length of the canyon was covered with stones and boulders that had broken away and fallen from the towering cliffs above us. This hodge-podge of rocky debris conspired with the ever-present waterfalls and deep pools to harass us as we slowly worked our way deeper into the canyon.
Trail markings called cairns or ducks (two or three stones placed atop each other) were few and far between. Following the creek was the only route available to reach Camp Noche and eventually Picacho. The creek presented a problem because it flowed down the center of the canyon and the canyon was so narrow at places that we had to search for ways to bypass the blocking falls, pools, and gigantic boulders. We couldn?t simply walk up the middle of the creek. We had to work our way along the banks among the brush, rocks, boulders, and ledges. It was very tiring and perplexing at times.
Typically, during a one hour time period, we would have to cross the creek time after time, pick our way across hundreds of stones, work our way up and over huge boulders, stop and search for a route past a barrier, and avoid the pesky barbs of hiding cacti. Very rarely did we find an unimpeded stretch in the canyon in which we could casually stroll along.
Luckily one of the boulder barriers had a cable ladder bolted into the rock-face. Unluckily, the wooden slats had become rotten and had broken apart. The ladder was useless. Luckily, Jorge had strong legs and was able to leap high enough to grasp a handhold available in the boulder that allowed him to pull himself up and over the boulder. He then tossed me the rope and pulled me up.
All along the way, we would come to a situations where Jorge would leave his pack with me, scramble up a wall or boulder and then drop me the rope for him to haul the packs up and then haul me up. A friend in need is a friend indeed! And yes, there were several times when I hauled Jorge up and lowered him down! Well----- maybe one time!
Even though it was hard work at times, the effort put forth was worth it. It was a joy to be in such an awesome, isolated, picturesque slice of land carved by Mother Nature.
We had to remind ourselves not to become complacent as we ogled the beauty of the canyon. Fun and games could abruptly come to a screeching halt with one wrong move. Especially the further we climbed up the canyon! A broken leg, a cracked skull, a poisonous snake-bite, a serious laceration, and so on! Those were sobering thoughts!

As the day wore on and we gained considerable distance up the canyon, I began to tire and needed more frequent rest stops and water. Water was an absolute necessity and I wasn?t drinking as often as I should have. I would ignore my thirst at times simply because of the time-consuming effort it took to filter a quart of water from the creek. Due to my insistence of drinking only filtered water, I brought myself to the verge of dehydration. Jorge had no qualms about drinking straight from the creek. I would watch in envy as he would stop for a few seconds, take his metal cup from his belt and scoop mouthful after mouthful of water from the creek. I on the other hand, wouldn?t stop to refill my empty water-bottle with my filter-pump until we considered it time for a break.
I didn?t realize what I was doing to myself by waiting so long to drink until we took one of our breaks under a shade tree. I was lagging a little behind Jorge when I felt so exhausted that I shouted to Jorge that I needed a rest. We chose the closest shade tree to rest under, but before I could even sit down, nausea overwhelmed me and I immediately blessed the floor of the canyon with the contents of my stomach---twice!
Jorge expressed his concern about my predicament and gave me a package of powdered energy drink to mix with the water. I drank the proffered potion and assured him that I would feel better after a rest and rehydration. I also thought that I might not be eating a sufficient amount of calories for each days hike. It seemed that I had nutritionally shortchanged myself and was now suffering the consequences.
I considered myself a fairly experienced hiker, and knew better than to skimp on food, but I pushed the envelope trying to lighten my pack load. Another lesson learned the hard way!
After a good rest, we loaded up and continued upward and onward. We encountered several pools of water that were ideal for swimming but we gave them a pass in order to cover more ground before nightfall. We still had another day ahead of us before we would reach Camp Noche.
We were now in the middle reach of the canyon and were encountering more brush, vines, trees, and ANTS! Large black ants were lurking in the bushes and trees, and when we scraped or bump against the foliage, ants would latch on to us and launch an attack on any exposed skin. Nothing like the stinging sensation of an ant bite to perk you up!
Each time we emerged from a wooded area, the ants would stay behind and wait eagerly for our return.
Near the end of the day, we came upon a section of the canyon that consisted of red-colored rock that lined the walls and floor of the canyon. Streams of water splashed over many small depressions in the creek bed creating the effect of a flooded pothole filled roadway. It was a pleasure to amble along this area.
We needed to find a stopping point for the day and search for a campsite. We found it just as we reached a distinct rise in the canyon. This area is considered the start of the upper reaches of the canyon.
We scouted the area for the best place to set up the tent and bivy and in short time, we had things squared away in a good spot. We were able to build a fire and cook up a hot meal. Jorge offered to share some of the dehydrated food he had brought on the trip, and I reciprocated with some dried fruit that I had. The Oriental Chicken that he had cooked up was delicious and I vowed that on my next hike I would forego my normal ration of tuna-fish, sardines, Spam, and Maruchan instant noodles and replace it with the Mountain House products that Jorge was carrying. Sure beat the heck out of the meager, tasteless fare I had brought.
Before the night took over, we checked out the route we would take when we broke camp in the morning. We would have to scamper past a steep incline in order to reach the easy trail on the other side. It would await us tomorrow!
We sat up for awhile and watched the fire burn itself out. It was the end of another great day in the canyon!
(To be continued)
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[*] posted on 5-5-2006 at 10:48 PM
Jorge and Dez Rat---Day 3


Day 3---Daybreak, breakfast, break camp, and a quick breakaway for Campo Noche. We weren?t sure how much further we had to go to reach C. Noche, but we knew that whatever time we arrived, there was no chance of a Picacho summit attempt until the next day. Knowing this, we were unburdened with the pressure to rush thru the rest of the canyon in high gear. And this was a good thing because from this point forward, the canyon presented us with several time consuming and arduous difficulties to overcome.
We first, had to get past the boulder that rested on a steep incline that was just past our campsite. Jorge was the better rock climber of the two of us, so he elected to make the crossing first. If either of us lost our footing, we would slide down thirty or forty feet of rough rock and plunge into a large pool below. Jorge had the sure-footedness of a mountain goat. He made it around the boulder and waited for me to cross. As I stepped forward toward the boulder, my boots began to slip, so I eased back and told Jorge that I would need the rope to get across. He managed to swing the rope (actually, we were using a long nylon strap) around the boulder so I could grab it and tie into it. With Jorge pulling the slack out of the strap, he supported me as I crab-walked my way over to him.

This section of the canyon had an abundance of plant growth. Tall trees, bushes, vine entanglements, all types of leafy vegetation, blocked our way as we searched for ?ducks? that served as markers for previous hikers. Sometimes we couldn?t find any ?ducks?, and at other times we found too many ?ducks?. By too many ?ducks?, I mean that we would arrive at barriers to our pathway and find ?ducks? leading in four different directions. Now those were some ?head-scratching? moments. It got to the point where we just ignored the ?ducks? and blazed our own trail.
There were moments when we had to bushwhack our way through the thick vegetation. Branches snagged our clothes and scraped our arms, legs, and faces. Our backpacks would get caught up and entangled by low limbs and hanging vines forcing us to backup, disentangle, and try again. I can?t count the number of times we tripped on exposed roots and tumbled onto rocks, sand, or plant matter, depending on which covered the ground at the time of the fall. Scrapes, scratches, nicks, bumps and bruises, were par for the course.
There were times when we were so tired that instead of following a trail that lead up and around a mass of vegetation, we simply crossed our arms in front of our faces and barreled our way though the jungle-like growth. We hated to take more steps than we deemed necessary.
Once, while scrambling across several boulders, I fell into a brush-hidden hole and was jolted to a sudden stop as my chest slammed into an unseen rock. Luckily, I suffered nothing more than a bruised chest.
Jorge was jolted to a sudden stop also, but not by a rock. Jorge was about twenty feet ahead of me as we hiked through a bushy area of the canyon. All of a sudden I saw him throw up his arms and start back-pedaling. ?SNAKE?, he shouted! I hustled over to where he was standing, and he pointed out the rattle-snake that was lying on the trail, basking in the sun. The snake seemed unperturbed by our presence and stayed put. We decided to take a snack break and spent some time checking out the snake. Jorge took a snapshot of the snake before we left the area.

Up and at it, again, we continued up the canyon. Step by wobbly step! I had almost reached my physical limit for the day. I was pooped. I was worn out. I was ready to find a campsite and call it a day if Camp Noche didn?t show up soon. More rocks, more boulders, more bushwhacking, more sweat, more breaks and more aches. Shadows were getting longer as the sun began its downward journey. Three o?clock had come and gone and four o?clock was fast approaching.
Jorge glanced uphill from the creek and notice a flat area, shaded by tall trees that would make a nice rest area. He looked at me and asked if I needed a break. ?Yes, indeed?, I responded, and up the hill we went. As we approached the flat clearing , it suddenly dawned on us that we had just discovered Camp Noche. What a feeling of relief! We had just completed hiking the entire Diablo Canyon. It had been my secondary goal to reach Camp Noche --- the jumping off place for the climb up Diablo. Reaching the summit of Picacho del Diablo would be the icing on the cake.

Once again, we tended to all the camp chores, and set up our sleeping arrangements. There was a circle of stones in the middle of the clearing used for building a fire. A log had been placed near the fire-pit for sitting on or leaning against. The camp area was big enough for about three or four small tents. It was a nice place for a camp and well situated for a summit attempt. The route to Night Wash could be found at the base of the rise directly behind the campsite
We went back down to the creek and refilled our water containers. We wanted a fire for the night, so we comb the area in search of firewood, but it was slim pickings. Over the many years of serving as a campsite, practically all the deadwood in the area had been utilized and was now on the endangered species list. Nonetheless, we scored enough wood to get a good fire going. We had a good supper and some good conversations as we sat on the log and lounged around the fire. We hit the sack wondering what problems, if any, lay ahead for as during tomorrow?s climb.
(To be continued)

[Edited on 5-6-2006 by Desert Rat]
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[*] posted on 5-6-2006 at 09:04 AM
D. Rat------


--------the Blue Bottle route is looking more and more like a real viable alternative as I read of your struggles :lol:

Great report---------I await the "summit attempt" impatiently.
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[*] posted on 5-6-2006 at 11:14 AM


Great site Jorge. Your pictures and Dez's story make me almost think I'm there with you.



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[*] posted on 5-6-2006 at 11:55 PM
Jorge and Dez Rat...Day 4 (Summit Attempt)


Day 4?(Summit Attempt) I lay inside my tent and did a reality check in my mind before sleep came. Both of us had done some physical training in preparation for the hike. Mine had consisted mostly of walking four miles a day the month prior to the hike. I had lost five pounds of fat in the process. I considered myself to be in good shape for the trip.
Jorge had been training by taking several hikes in rough, hilly country with his backpack in hopes of strengthening his legs as well as overall condition. As luck would have it, during one of his hikes, he re-injured and old
knee injury and had to slack off on training. By kick-off time, Jorge?s knee had improved enough to hike the canyon.
So, physically, we were prepared. However, I neutralized my stamina and fortitude by unwise choices made during the hike to Campo Noche. I didn?t eat nutritious food, didn?t drink enough water, and didn?t take enough rest breaks as we marched along. This mistreatment to my body caught up to me and brought me to almost complete and total exhaustion at the end of day three.
Tomorrow we would enter an area even more rugged than what we had just trekked through. I questioned my physical ability to meet the challenge. If my energy level hadn?t risen by morning, then there would be serious doubts about me making the attempt.
If I chose not to go, it could change the game plan drastically for Jorge. I would wait for morning to make my decision.

Morning stared me in the face demanding my decision! I crawled out of the tent feeling listless. I knew at that moment that I would have to take a Picacho rain-check. I told Jorge what I decided, and he said, ?C?mon, Dez! Have some breakfast and you will perk up? ?No?, I said, ?I need more than a breakfast to fix my problem. I?m frazzled, beat, lackadaisical, finished, kaput! The wind has left my sail!?
Jorge realized I was serious and accepted my decision, but gave it the ole college try. ?Maybe?, he said, ?If you start up Night Wash with me, you will get back in the groove.?
I appreciated his attempt to urge me onward, but I knew how I felt. I didn?t want to place Jorge and myself in a position in which Jorge might have to abandon the climb in order to help me back to the campsite.

While we ate breakfast, we discussed the situation and came up with this plan. I would stay behind at the campsite while Jorge took a shot at Picacho. He estimated that he should be back by four o?clock, and if not, then definitely before nightfall. If he wasn?t back by nightfall then I would start looking for him in the morning. Of course, if he wasn?t back by nightfall then it meant he had run into a problem and I would naturally conjure up the worst-case scenario in my mind.

Jorge began preparations for the climbed and as I watched him, I began to feel like a horse?s patootie for not even testing myself up Night Wash. I knew I would regret it if I didn?t make an effort to at least rise above Camp Noche. ?Hold up, Jorge?, I blurted out. ?I?m going up the wash with you, and maybe beyond.? In a flash, I grabbed my backpack, threw in the essential gear, grabbed my hiking pole and got in step behind my partner.
Night Wash was a challenge in itself. The trail led upward, high above us
behind Camp Noche, There were no switchbacks cut into the trail which put a heavy demand on our thighs as we strove to reach the top of the wash. Loose rocks and sand presented a danger as we worked our way though the maze of boulders that covered the area. Several rest stops were needed to enable us to catch our breath and give our legs some relief. The higher we climbed the more captivating the views became. I was thankful that I hadn?t stayed back at camp. What a sight to behold, and there was more to come!
We were sweating profusely as we neared the top of the wash. It became a struggle for me to keep up with Jorge. At times I would lose sight of him as he pressed onward. Minutes later I would find him standing in the trail waiting for me to catch up. Once more, he disappeared from view. Before I could catch up with him, I heard him shout that he had reached the top of the wash. It was music to my ears!
I gathered up my strength for one last push to reach the top. Twenty steps, fifteen, ten, five, and bingo, I made it! Jorge waved me over to the boulder he was standing on and told me to check out the view. And what a view! The whole of Diablo Canyon lay at our feet. Behind us stood the impressive palisades of San Pedro Martir that included Bluebottle Mountain. Ahead of us towered the remainder of the mountainous expanse that had to be crossed before reaching the Peak of the Devil.
I was in no condition to meet the next challenge. I told Jorge that he was on his own if he wanted to continue. I was going to return to camp. Jorge was adamant about continuing and I was happy for him. It would be a great feat if he succeeded with a summit.
Jorge assured me that he would return to the campsite before nightfall, and I assured him that I would stay on top of Night Wash for an hour after he left in case he changed his mind and came back early.
We shook hands and I wished him luck and success. I watched as he eased his way down the slope and across the next hill until he disappeared into a thicket of trees.

During the hour that I spent waiting on the boulder, I ate a snack, checked out the view with my binoculars, took snapshots, wrote in my journal, and had a short nap. Before I left, I placed a bottle of water on the boulder for Jorge in case he was short of water on his return.
Dropping back down the wash was more difficult than climbing up in regards to safety. I lost my footing several times on loose rock and gravel. Unseen snags and roots tripped me up causing me to stumble. If I didn?t have my trusty hiking pole to regain my balance, I surely would have taken some steep falls.
By the time I reached camp, my legs were trembling due to the constant strain put on them by the steepness of the wash. All I wanted to do was crawl into my tent and zonk out. Nothing else mattered. Sleep came quickly!

I was startled awake by a clomping sound made by approaching heavy footsteps . I stuck my head out of the tent and saw Jorge standing beside the huge fallen log that marked the camp boundary. It was a huge relief to see him standing there! I could see the signs of frustration on his face. He was a little haggard looking, and his clothes were a mess. The whole azz-end of his pants was dangling alongside his thigh and new abrasions were added to his collection of minor injuries.
It was four o?clock. He was true to his word. He was back and he now needed to rest. He lay down on his sleeping mat and proceed to fill me in on his solo adventure. Due to his weariness, Jorge gave me a brief account of his climb. A more detailed account may be forthcoming some day.
This is what was related to me: He missed the summit, but came close. He had been thrown off track by errant ?ducks.? ?Ducks? seemed to be placed in a haphazard manner, almost helter-skelter. In some places, three to four distinct trails branched off from what was assumed to be the main trail. Precious time was wasted as he checked each trail to ascertain which was correct. Adding to his frustration with the route search was the ruggedness of the terrain. Caution was the name of the game for a solo hiker. As the day wore on, he realized that with his rate of climbing, he would miss the four o?clock return, or even worse, nightfall could overtake him. He knew that the missed deadline would trigger my worry alarm. He opted to abort the hike and make his way back to camp. On his way back he had to do some serious ?butt-scootin? maneuvers to descend several rough granite boulders. Hence the ripped trousers! End of story!

Jorge dozed off for an hour or so. When he woke up, we built a fire and prepared supper. Late-night conversations were out of the question on this night unless it involved ?Mr. Sandman.? We slept like logs!
(To be continued)

[Edited on 5-7-2006 by Desert Rat]

[Edited on 5-7-2006 by Desert Rat]
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[*] posted on 5-7-2006 at 12:11 AM


A wonderfull telling of the Diablo Hike. Even Better than "Mike's Mountain".

Thanks so Much for taking the time!

As always,

Bedman
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[*] posted on 5-7-2006 at 12:56 PM
Jorge and Dez Rat---Day 5


Day 5---On Our Way Back
Due to time restraints, another attempt to climb Picacho was out of the picture for this trip. In the morning we resigned ourselves to clean the camp area, pack up our gear, and show our backs to Picacho as we began our way back toward the trailhead.


Again, we couldn?t become complacent and let our guard down on the hike out of the canyon. Every barrier, every risk, every challenge, and every hardship that we had endured on the way up the canyon, had to be met again and overcome. We could travel faster because we had already seen the outstanding views within the canyon and no longer halted to gaze at them. Fewer Kodak moments interrupted our retreat because the best snapshots had been taken on the way in. We were now familiar with the paths of least resistance enabling us to reduce time-consuming route searches. Our packs were a few pounds lighter due to the consumption of our food supply.


However, having the ability to speed up our pace, increased the likelihood of a slip and fall. And fall we did! After several non-injurious falls, we forced ourselves to ease off on the gas pedal.
Hopping from boulder to boulder, rock to rock, creek bank to creek bank, began to take a toll on Jorge?s knee. He was limping now and intent on bypassing as many stones as possible to avoid the jarring shock to his knees. We weaved in and out of the thousands and thousands of rocks that filled the canyon. We knew that the canyon contained and enormous amount of rocks as we noted on the way in, but today it was as if the ?Rock Fairy? and visited the canyon while we were at Camp Noche, and deposited an extra bazillion stones in our pathway.


Mercifully, the sun gave way to the evening, and we stopped at a nice flat, rock-free sandy area and set up camp. We were deserving of a peaceful night?s rest for we had kicked it hard all day descending from the upper canyon, down the middle canyon to where we were now, the lower canyon. All in all, it was a good distance in a good day!
(to be continued)

[Edited on 5-7-2006 by Desert Rat]

[Edited on 5-7-2006 by Desert Rat]
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[*] posted on 5-7-2006 at 11:19 PM
Jorge and Dez Rat---Day 6 ---The end


Day 6---Out of the canyon.
Up at the break of dawn, we hastily readied ourselves for the last leg of the hike. Jorge had informed Baja Lou that we expected to arrive at the trailhead on this day. As to the exact time, we weren?t sure, so Jorge would give him a call on the satellite phone when we were about an hour away from the trailhead. Baja Lou and Wornout would then come to our rescue and transport us back to El Dorado and the amenities of civilization.

We were now in the lower reaches of the canyon and it made for a much easier hike. The ubiquitous rocks still pervaded the lower reach, but they were more spread about and interspersed with extended patches of sand. Naturally we favored the sandy patches as we walked.
The temperature rose as we hot-footed it along the time-worn and weather-beaten desert chasm.

Jorge?s limp became more pronounced as we continued our advance. My knees began to ache a little, but the blisters on my feet plagued me the most. My normal hiking stride had regressed to a shuffled gait. Knowing that a few more hours of hiking was all that was needed to alleviate our aches and pains, we forged ahead.

I bumped into Jorge when he made a sudden stop. He turned to me and told me to look in the direction he pointed. ?Isn?t that a beautiful sight?, he asked. I thought he was referring to an odd rock formation that I spied. He said, ?No,no, not the rock! Don?t you see the cable-ladder beyond the rock formation??
?Yaaaahooo!?, I shouted. The presence of the ladder signified that the entrance fall wasn?t far behind.

When we reached the falls, we relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief. All that was left to do was make the rock-wall traverse, hop-scotch around several pools, hike the remaining mile down the wash, follow the side-trail to the trailhead, and lastly, wait for Baja Lou.

We made the traverse with no mishap. It was time to place the call to Lou. The message was sent and a message was received. Lou would be at the trailhead within an hour.

We came to great little swimming-hole and Jorge couldn?t resist the opportunity to rid himself of the six days of accumulated sweat, dust, and grime. In a flash, he stripped off his raggedy clothes, tossed his boots aside, and gingerly lowered himself into the icy water. I opted to wait until we reached El Dorado before cleaning up after the hike.

By the time we found the correct side-trail and reached the trailhead, we were spent. We dropped our backpacks and plopped down on the ground under a shade tree in hopes that St. NickaLou would soon be there.

?Been waiting long??, Lou asked, as he step out of his vehicle. ?Only a ten minute wait, and nobody is complaining?, I said. We shook hands all around, loaded our gear in the vehicles, hopped in, and saluted Diablo Canyon as we drove away. It had been an unforgettable adventure and we called ourselves lucky to have had the chance for the experience.

Wornout was kind enough to provide a comfortable home for us to rest and recuperate from our trip. We were invited to a community pot-luck supper that would commence just as soon as we showered and changed clothes. We were first introduced to the gracious attendees, and afterwards, introduced to the meal.


What a sumptuous feast awaited us! The table was laden with various meats, salads, breads, vegetables, sauces, seafood, finger-food, pastries, cookies, candy, and Lord knows what else! To wash it all down, beer was available, as well as soda, tea, Kool-aid, coffee, and water. Jorge and I ate, and then ate some more. We were famished!
It was a pleasure to be with such accepting Baja people. They certainly won us over with their hospitality.

Late in the evening, we returned to the borrowed home and chose our sleeping accommodations. It was the couch for me and the bed was for Jorge. I figured that he needed something more comfortable for his aching knee to rest upon. Evidently the couch suited me just fine because as soon as my head hit the pillow, I began sawing logs.

We got up early in the morning and loaded our gear into the truck for the drive back to Calexico and the bus station. We enjoyed rehashing the events of the hike as we zipped our way to the border. Jorge pulled to the curb in front of the Calexico bus station and I retrieved my backpack. We shook hands and had a quick, friendly hug before Jorge hopped back into his truck. Off he went, tooting the horn as he disappeared around the corner. All that was left of the adventure would be the long bus ride home. I settled into the cramped bus seat, leaned back, closed my eyes and with a smile on my face, drifted back to Diablo Canyon.

That?s my story and I?m sticking to it! I hope you were entertained!---?Dez Rat?

[Edited on 5-8-2006 by Desert Rat]
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[*] posted on 5-8-2006 at 07:34 AM


Great story Dez, thanks for posting it (finaly)



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[*] posted on 5-8-2006 at 09:16 AM
Desert Rat--------


----------truly a great story, and told very well. Thank you so much for posting it----------and I hope to see more reports of your continueing adventures.:yes:
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[*] posted on 5-8-2006 at 12:39 PM


Glad to help anytime - looking forward to your next climb. 3rd time's the charm



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[*] posted on 5-8-2006 at 05:34 PM


Great adventure D. Rat, it was fun being able to participate in it in a fashion. See ya again one of these days....wornout



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[*] posted on 7-11-2009 at 10:07 AM


Bump



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