Ascent of Hot Springs Mountain on 2001-12-15

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, December 15, 2001
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Hot Springs Mountain
    Elevation:6533 ft / 1991 m

Ascent Trip Report

In 2001 the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation was open on weekends to the general public for a $5.00 fee. The Indian woman taking the money at the reservation entrance gave me a sketch map that showed the roads, including the one up to Hot Springs Mountain. I was able to navigate to the start of the gravel road, and then steeply uphill as it switchbacked up the south sides of the mountain.

However, once I was near 5000 feet there was snow on the road. I was able to drive through the snowbanks at first, but I was concerned since I was driving a rear-wheel drive Volvo wagon and there were some pretty good drop-offs with no guardrail on the road. Finally, at a wide, flat spot on the road at about 5240 feet, I pulled over and parked. I was now resigned to having to hike the remaining 5 miles to the summit.

It was easy and boring hiking along the snowy road through pleasant pine forest. After a few miles the road became narrow, steep, and rough, and even without snow I doubt I could have driven it. I passed a junction, where the road coming in from the east had many tire tracks and seemed to be used more.

The road finally began to ascend to the summit, and I wearily hiked to the open area with an observation tower. All alone, I climbed up the tower and admired the view under overcast skies. Once down, a pickup truck in low gear 4WD arrived at the summit, and a few guys got out. I asked them if I could hitch a ride down part way, and they said sure, but first I had to go to the actual summit, a little ways along the ridge.

So I bushwhacked northwest through thick brush for a couple minutes to a large boulder, maybe 20 feet high, that was the actual high point. It was a bit of a scramble, and I used trees next to the rock to clamber to the top. I did not stay long--I carefully descended the summit rock and quicky pushed through the low, thick trees back to the lookout tower area, but the pickup was now gone. I guess the 10 minutes I was away was too long for them to wait.

So I started hiking back down the snowy road. No other vehicles passed me, and once past the junction there were no tire tracks in the snow. However, after lots more boring hiking, I came upon a few Indians and their parked pickup, cutting pines to sell as Christmas trees. They asked if that was my Volvo below, and said they would give me a ride when they were done. I continued hiking, and sure enough in a few minutes they pulled up and squeezed me in the side of the front seat. This generous ride saved me about 1.8 miles of walking, and in a few minutes I was back at my car.

I thanked the Indians, and I unpacked and then carefully drove the road back out to the reservation entrance. The snow had melted quite a bit while I had been away hiking, and soon I was back down in the desert.

I was happy to have climbed this peak in 2001, since in 2004 the reservation was closed to all non-Indians and it did not reopen until 2009 or so.

Hot Springs Mountain in San Diego County, CA, with a rare dusting of snow on its higher slopes (2001-12-15).
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1693 ft / 515 m
    Total Elevation Loss:973 ft / 295 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9.1 mi / 14.6 km
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1493 ft / 455 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1293 ft / 394 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Loss on way in:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:5.2 mi / 8.4 km
    Start Trailhead:Hot Springs Rd  5240 ft / 1597 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:773 ft / 235 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 573 ft / 175 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Gain on way out:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:3.9 mi / 6.3 km
    End Trailhead:Hot Springs Rd  5960 ft / 1816 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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