I’ve been laying rather low with the documentation of my adventures as of late. It’s been a weird couple of virus-altered months for everyone — especially for those who rely on the outdoors and open space to remain sane.
My website’s silence hasn’t meant that I’ve been staying indoors and twiddling my thumbs. I’ve actually been getting out to recreate quite a bit, but in a rather strategic manner. I’ve been hitting the obscure corners of San Diego County, working within the state and county park closures, all while keeping my contact with the outside world to a bare minimum.
And to be honest, searching out these more remote areas hasn’t bothered me at all. I actually prefer them.
Now that the vast majority of the outdoors — campgrounds, state parks, national forests, etc. — are open for public use (at least in my area), I feel a little more comfortable sharing what I’ve been up to. As I mentioned in a previous post, I didn’t want to give people who can’t recreate responsibly any outlandish ideas to go take their reckless behavior outdoors to non-traditional trails.
The first adventure in what I hope is a series of ‘Covid chronicles’ posts to come takes place on a high desert mountain on the eastern edge of San Diego County’s peninsular ranges: Jacumba Peak.
How to get there and why it’s cheaper to wear clothes
Jacumba Peak stands 4,512 feet above the sea — the highest point in the Jacumba Mountains, which sit just a handful of miles north of the Mexican border. The range is defined by its aged weather granite boulders and endless views off into the low-lying Colorado Desert. The Jacumba Mountains are a transition zone from the coastal mountains down to the scorching desert, which gives them an interesting mix of flora and fauna from both ecosystems.
The route to Jacumba Peak uses a series of game trails, old jeep roads, and cross-country route navigating to complete the ascent.
The most direct route to gain the peak without a serious off-road vehicle starts at De Anza Springs Resort off Interstate 8.
This is a great launching point for exploring the high desert, but a quirky one at that since it is a nudist getaway.
Parking on their property requires a $5 fee, which I discovered jumps up to $17 if you want to hike nude.
I didn’t really ask why it costs more to simply remove your clothes, but I didn’t really care. Hiking in the desert nude is an absurd task. It’s a land where the plants don’t simply just defend themselves, but they fight back with an array of detachable spiky, barbed weapons.
There’s really no correct way to get to Jacumba Peak, so I won’t go into detail about which trails to take. From the resort, enter the backcountry to the northeast and take any combination of jeep roads and backcountry routes to arrive at the base of the mountain. Keep your heading towards the peak, which will be looming ahead at all times.
As the crow flies, it’s about 3 miles and 1700 feet elevation gain, but expect to do more like 5-6 miles each way due to the indirect nature of the various routes (not to mention the roundabout hiking style of circumnavigating cacti). There is one key to gain the peak: Aim for the prominent saddle just to the south of the ridge from which Jacumba Peak protrudes. This is the most reasonable way to the top.