A group was to ascend Elephant Head via from the south on an easy to follow trail and I let them know I'd meet then at the saddle (shown on the left of the "head") to show them how to ascend the neck, which is tricky in spots. I wanted the challenge of climbing from the northwest a rarely done route.
No trail, no cairns just a gps track on my cell phone. I was unable to get my car to the trail head so had to park 2 miles away so that was an unplanned add-on. Following an easy walk on a dirt road, I plunge into the wilderness. I mostly skirt a very thick grove of ocotillos.
While I have the gps track to follow, there really is no reason to obsess about following it exactly. It just represents how one person decided to go, using the same clues I see before me. Looking back I see I needlessly climbed a ridge (doesn't look like much from this vantage point but it was) and would have been better off circling around it by staying in a wash.
Maybe I should have looked more often at that gps track after all. ha, ha. I look at the base of the Head and it actually looks like I could reach it and then climb toward the saddle where I would meet the group. But, from a distance, sure it looks doable but once in there, who knows what obstacles I would encounter.
I slowly work my way through a hodge podge of plants, walls, drop offs, etc... I check my watch...ugh. The extra 2 mile hike from my car and the slow route finding....not good. I began to doubt I'd arrive at the ridge before the group.
From on high, I hear and can see hikers close to the summit as I pause and.....
….marvel at the view. That rock climbing dude who free solos walls would make quick work of this while I continue my slog. It was a little unnerving to smell the distinct odor thrown off my javelinas. Plus, while I was down climbing the ridge I should not have climbed, I worked my way through a rock/cliffy area and rounding one building sized boulder there was a flat area with a bunch of large animal droppings below it. I admit I had a "WTF are you doing out here" thought and I was not carrying on this hike.
Oh, hey, there's the ridge showing the rock area I descended on the left with the wash I should have followed on the right. I made certain I'd get in that wash for the return. I reached another ridge and saw a final chute that looked like I could climb to the back of the elephant head. But, my cell phone battery was waning, upon reaching the neck of the elephant would I still be able to hook up with the group and if so, would I impose on anyone to drive me to my car after I followed them back to their trailhead? I was running late on time too so I....
….decided to live to hike another day and descended. I got into the wash and it proved to be a good choice although I did encounter not one but.....
….two barbed wire fences. I climbed one and crawled under the other. Soon I.....
….found the dirt road and returned to my car. I looked back many times. I hate giving up on a hike and not reaching a peak. This will bug me.
And yes, visual proof that it was that type of hike. The pointy plants flourish on the slopes below Elephant Head. Finished with 6.4 miles and 1800' of climbing.
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