9-Jan-93 (Private trip)
By: Bob Sumner
A group of about 20 friends had originally planned to do this peak and Pico Risco, but with storms sweeping over Southern California and Northern Baja, it looked like only 3 people would show. A flurry of Friday phone calls and improved weather forecasts changed a few minds, so 8 fish-peakers met at 6:15 AM at the corner of 3rd and Emerson in Calexico. This group consisted of Bill T and Pat Russell, Dan Richter, Devra Wasserman, Erik Siering, Charlie Knapke, Paula Peterson, and myself. Our plan was to do only Pescadores, since the storm would hit late Saturday night.
We caravaned through Mexicali and south on Hwy 5. Since km post 24 is missing, we turned right on the dirt road .7 of a mile after km post 23. The first 1.6 miles were sandy but the 2WD's got past it. Then we jumped in the 4WD's and continued on poor dirt roads through the gap north of the 7 antenna hill. Parked just out of the main wash.
It was under a sunny blue sky that we started the hike, but it was also very humid. We went up the main gully towards the peak, and then where it splits we went up the dividing ridge. The ground was still saturated and we encountered much loose rock. This area is laden with big quartz monzonite boulders and walls, and there are hundreds of rock climbs here just waiting to be discovered. The entire area is very much like parts of Joshua Tree.
Once we gained the summit ridge, the views were superb. Big Picacho and Pico Risco were visible and the nearby geothermal fields were spewing forth huge plumes of steam. The temperature was just right and the storm clouds were still several hours off. We enjoyed a well-deserved lunch and left the summit before noon.
The descent was uneventful. About halfway down the ridge we left it and continued down a prominent boulder-strewn gully which led us back to the main wash. We reclaimed the 2WD's and jump-started Charlie's Cherokee, which had a dead battery. Our caravan of 4 headed back to pavement and north toward Calexico where we planned to regroup at our meeting spot and decide where to eat.
This didn't go quite according to plan. When we passed through Mexicali in the morning, the traffic had been light and driving through town easy. But by afternoon Mexicali had become a zoo, teeming with cars heading in all directions. Soon Dan separated from us, and then Bill T. Charlie and I found the correct street with traffic inching toward the border, and decided to merge into it. Bad move. Really bad move.
Moments later a Mexican motorcycle cop appeared, confiscated our licenses, and ordered us into a nearby parking lot. He had us read a handwritten message (in English) stating our violation of "forcing our way into a line of traffic". He then informed us, in very poor English, that we would have to follow him to the police station, receive our citations, and pay our fines, which would be $120 each. Charlie and I stared at each other in disbelief, while the cop called in another motorcycle cop. This guy's English was a little better, but he told us the fine was now $155 each. Not good. I asked if they accepted Visa or Mastercard at the police station. With a disgusted look, he waved us around behind my van.
"How much you have?" he asked us. I had $25 and Charlie had $100. "You pay me now, You go home now".
Sounded like a plan. We forked over the cash, got our licenses back, and got the hell out of there. We found the end of the traffic queue a few miles back and got into it properly. Paula exclaimed "We got mugged by the police!" I disagree. Charlie and I split the difference, so our effective cost was about $60 each. My last moving violation in the U.S. cost me $100, plagued my DMV record for 3 years, and caused numerous hassles with my insurance company. The resulting rate increases amounted to $900 over 3 years. Now what sounds like a mugging?
Should the DPS delete the Mexican peaks because of incidents like this? No, no, no, a thousand times no. They are good peaks which can be enjoyed without any hassles. If you break the law, expect to pay for it just as would here. I'm looking forward to going back for Pico Risco and Big Picacho. And if there are any more hassles, I'll look at it as an adventure, not a mishap.
Anyway, we reconvened at our meeting spot in Calexico and waited an hour for Bill T. Remembering his license plate, we checked back at the border. Their computers revealed he had passed through the border before any of us. We knew he was safely back in the States, wherever he was. (Turns out he thought we had already left, so he did too.) The rest of us went to "El Mariachi" restaurant in El Centro for dinner. If anyone ever suggests that you eat here, pretend you're in a drug advertisement and "just say no".
This wasn't just a peak, it was an adventure.
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