Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mortero Palms and the Goat Canyon Trestle Hike

In late October, members of the American Adventurist forum started organizing a long and strenuous pre-Thanksgiving hike up to Mortero Palm Canyon and to see the Goat Canyon Trestle.  Seeing the trestle has been on my long-term bucket list for great hikes around San Diego, so I simply had to join them.

John Graham was the trip organizer and has a vastly superior writeup and set of photos from this outing.  See his wonderful blog here.

After meeting some of the group in Alpine, we made our way via caravan the rest of the way into Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  I came separately in the van, because I though I might want to stay the night, depending on what time we finished hiking and how tired I was.  Much thanks to John for grabbing this rare photo of the Astrolander in-action.

This hike has a lot of climbing.  A LOT.  The bouldering up to Mortero Palms isn't terrible, but you're already in full sun, even this early in the morning.

Once in the palm grove, though, there's a bit of shade.  A good spot to relax, and this would make a decent destination for an up-and-back hike if you were with people looking for a less strenuous journey.

I think this marks the high-point of the climb.  After this it's mostly downhill (which is not to say that it's easier), and by no means are we "half way" just yet.

Our first view of the trestle.  Pretty much de-bouldering, scrambling, and sliding on your butt to get down this canyon.

For any sort of railfan, this wooden trestle is a must-see.  There is another route to get here that involves less climbing, but its mostly along the rail lines, which you're technically not supposed to be hiking on.

The view from atop the trestle is not to be missed.  Acrophobes probably shouldn't look down from here, though.

There are several tunnels.  The first is in good shape, and looks really amazing.  We back-tracked south/east on the line and found one of the collapsed tunnels - I didn't go as deeply into that one as the other (braver) members of the party.  After our brief explorations, we hiked most of the rest of the way out by following the tracks to the north(ish) (?).  Batteries were getting low at this point, so I don't have many photos of the other smaller wood and steel trestles or the other more-intact tunnels.  Eventually we moved back off the tracks.

On the way back to the vehicles, we were able to take a side trip to view some pictographs in a cave.  Exact location withheld for preservation of the site, but respectful individuals who care to see them can probably find enough info on the web to locate them.

I'd need to double-check the logs to be sure, but I think we made nearly 17 miles that day.  Not too shabby considering all the scrambling.  Dusk was just approaching as we made it back to the rest of the vehicles.  The "southern lights" show was in full effect and it was beautiful, so I almost elected to stay the night, but I was missing my girls, so I made tracks for home and was able to kiss Annika just as she was falling asleep.

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