Santiago Peak, Modjeska Peak
By: Joe Young
Leaders: Joe Young, Wynne Benti
Seven hikers met at the Tustin carpool point at 7:00 am and caravanned to the roadhead for the Holy Jim trail. Upon review of maps we decided to drive south on the Santa Ana Freeway to the El Toro offramp, then head northeast on El Toro Road (S18) to the junction with Live Oak Road (S19). We arrived at the roadhead just after 8:00 am and began our hike at 8:35 am.
For about two miles the- trail follows the canyon bottom, then turns abruptly left and starts up the westerly wall of the canyon. In another four miles the trail intersects the truck road which approaches the peak from the east. A latecomer joined us here. At this point we headed left and followed the road to the summit. (Had we chosen to continue on a trail for perhaps a mile, we would have turned right and in about 100 feet turned left at a concrete structure on to an unmarked trail. This is the Holy Jim/Coldstream trail which cuts off a bit of road walking.) We arrived on the summit of Santiago just past noon, and stayed there briefly.
At 12:30 pm we headed north from the summit on to the main road and missed the overgrown firebreak heading toward the Modjeska/Santiago saddle. So we continued on the main road to the saddle, then took the trail up the south face of Modjeska to the southwest ridge, then proceeded to the summit. We arrived there at about 1:40 pm and relaxed until 2:30 pm. The weather was cool and clear - about as perfect as! could be imagined.
We headed back toward Santiago, taking the overgrown firebreak, easily visible from Modjeska, which we had missed earlier. We also used the Holy Jim/Coldstream cutoff trail, along which there is an unmarked junction where one goes straight (if going downhill) to stay on the Holy Jim trail and meet the road again. We then headed back down the Holy Jim trail. Darkness overcame us at about 5:00 and we hiked the last couple of miles in moonlight, except where trees blotted out the light. The four or five creek crossings consumed a bit of time, since the tallest vegetation occurs along the creek. We arrived at the cars at 6:05 pm.
Most of us stopped at a Pizza Hut along El Toro Road on the way back to the carpool point.
Thanks to Wynne for assisting on my birthday hike. This had been a long (20 miles), and hard (5,200' of gain) day.
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