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Talk about a trip you took out to Anza Borrego

Alta Seca Bench Messages in this topic - RSS

Brian
Brian
Posts: 151


5/6/2022
Brian
Brian
Posts: 151
Rocko1 and I wanted to get in one more overnight trip before the desert gets too hot (this isn't quite Anza Borrego but it's adjacent). We were looking at high desert options and settled on Alta Seca Bench near Toro Peak. This was 2 weekends ago and a snow storm blew through a day before we went. We didn't set any firm destination goals because we didn't know what conditions we would find. We managed a thorough exploration of the bench despite both of us feeling the effects of the altitude (it's easy to forget that the starting point of this trip is 1000' higher than the highest peaks in Anza Borrego).

All pics courtesy of Rocko1

A good view of the bench from one of our previous trips to Rockhouse Valley.


There was still snow at the top when we arrived. It was gone by the next day.



Views of Borrego Springs, Rockhouse and Clark Valleys.



We found the top of the ridge that descends to the Cottonwoods. We're talking about a Toro to Rockhouse traverse next fall.


Conditions on the bench were much drier than at Toro.


Views to the S/E



Our campsite had great views but also wind exposure.


Sunrise from camp.
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Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 520


5/9/2022
Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 520
This was a great trip. Some really fantastic camping opportunities in both north and south meadows. Found the route down to the cottonwoods-marked-at the top at least-with plenty of cairns. Also heavy animal tracks leading to this route as well.

South Meadow-https://i.imgur.com/gNs0xl7.mp4
edited by Rocko1 on 5/9/2022
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rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 646


5/9/2022
rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 646
That was an excellent expedition. The views are just fantastic! Looks like you arrived after the last snow of the season on Toro. Is the video of the south meadow pines the same area as picture no. 8 with the Salton Sea back drop? The shade of that pine looks like a great camping spot. How much water did you pack in? Patchy snow would be the way to go. But it would be cold.
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Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 520


5/9/2022
Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 520
rockhopper wrote:
That was an excellent expedition. The views are just fantastic! Looks like you arrived after the last snow of the season on Toro. Is the video of the south meadow pines the same area as picture no. 8 with the Salton Sea back drop? The shade of that pine looks like a great camping spot. How much water did you pack in? Patchy snow would be the way to go. But it would be cold.



Yes, south meadow is in picture 8. Here are more pics-https://imgur.com/a/anbL107

I think I had 6.5L, ate and refilled bottle with snow that added .75 to 1L. I think it got to 32f or so that night. Camp was about 8,050ft.
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Buford
Buford
Posts: 418


5/9/2022
Buford
Buford
Posts: 418
Nice. There is so much up there to explore. Very few people up there I assume? I am a little surprised the road was open, they sometimes close it due to weather.

Glad you found the ridge down to the cottonwoods. I have really enjoyed hikes like Rockhouse to Toro where you can go through multiple biomes in a day hike.

--
Links to my photos: ABDSP photos, Bighorn sheep photos, ABDSP time lapse video, Wildlife photos (mainly birds)
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Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 520


5/9/2022
Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 520
Buford wrote:
Nice. There is so much up there to explore. Very few people up there I assume? I am a little surprised the road was open, they sometimes close it due to weather.

Glad you found the ridge down to the cottonwoods. I have really enjoyed hikes like Rockhouse to Toro where you can go through multiple biomes in a day hike.



We saw one truck at a campground near the top and heard some others near the peak from camp, but saw no one. Road was questionable just in a few areas-at about 7,500ft or so due to snow/ice-that turned to mud quickly.
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dsefcik
dsefcik
Administrator
Posts: 2558


5/10/2022
dsefcik
dsefcik
Administrator
Posts: 2558
Looks like a great trip. There is a wrecked military helo up towards the peak, you should find that next time out that way.

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http://www.sefcik.com
http://www.darensefcik.com
http://www.carrizogorge.com
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tekewin
tekewin
Posts: 317


5/10/2022
tekewin
tekewin
Posts: 317
A very interesting trip and great photos!


Did you start on Toro or just below it?

Seems like a mostly unexplored area.
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Brian
Brian
Posts: 151


5/10/2022
Brian
Brian
Posts: 151
tekewin wrote:
A very interesting trip and great photos!


Did you start on Toro or just below it?

Seems like a mostly unexplored area.


The plan was to start by the locked gate just below the summit of Toro. We encountered more ice than expected on the road near Stump Spring campground and decided to park there since there are limited places to turn around if the road got worse. Of course as it turned out we would have been totally fine driving to the end, but this worked out OK.
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Brian
Brian
Posts: 151


5/10/2022
Brian
Brian
Posts: 151
Buford wrote:
I am a little surprised the road was open, they sometimes close it due to weather.


I always check this page before I go.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/sbnf/recarea/?recid=81714&fbclid=IwAR0GW9delpT-LLXErehAP2YEXkFyHbYr4U-NhM4I3wc21SgP4g3fwiL0rys

The forecast for the storm that rolled through didn't call for any accumulation (although there was some), so that's probably why they didn't bother to close it.
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Buford
Buford
Posts: 418


5/10/2022
Buford
Buford
Posts: 418
Brian wrote:
Buford wrote:
I am a little surprised the road was open, they sometimes close it due to weather.


I always check this page before I go.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/sbnf/recarea/?recid=81714&fbclid=IwAR0GW9delpT-LLXErehAP2YEXkFyHbYr4U-NhM4I3wc21SgP4g3fwiL0rys

The forecast for the storm that rolled through didn't call for any accumulation (although there was some), so that's probably why they didn't bother to close it.


How accurate is the site? I have found too often the USFS does not update road closures and have hit unexpected locked gates a few too many times. I imagine some districts are better than others at keeping the website up to date.

I can say the road to Toro is treacherous to even walk when it gets covered in ice.

--
Links to my photos: ABDSP photos, Bighorn sheep photos, ABDSP time lapse video, Wildlife photos (mainly birds)
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Brian
Brian
Posts: 151


5/10/2022
Brian
Brian
Posts: 151
Buford wrote:
How accurate is the site?


I'm not sure. One time I was driving Black Mountain in Ramona and a ranger closed the gate as I left because of an approaching rain storm. When I got home I checked the page and it was listed as closed. So I know at least some pages are up to date. I'm sure it depends on the agency, as you said. In this case Rocko1 went the extra mile and called to double check it would be open.
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rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 646


5/12/2022
rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 646
To Add: So nice to see the sky island of Jeffrey pine, Ponderosa pine amongst other Conifers on the Southern Bench photo. They looked healthy. Hope they can hang on. I need to go there someday!
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Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 520


5/12/2022
Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 520
rockhopper wrote:
To Add: So nice to see the sky island of Jeffrey pine, Ponderosa pine amongst other Conifers on the Southern Bench photo. They looked healthy. Hope they can hang on. I need to go there someday!



I called the ranger the day before to confirm the gate was unlocked. Really great area. I commented to Brian while walking through the pine meadows-'you know what you don't see many of? Dead trees'. What was there looked pretty healthy. But as with everything-better go see it sooner than later.

I was shocked at all the cairns leading to the southern edge of the bench-there are quite a few old ones and trails that are choked, we struggled in a few spots. Seems to be 3 'routes' going south-dead center on the ridge and to the east and just west of center. These converge about 1/4 mile before the bench drops onto the crest.

If you haven't been up there I suggest a trip-Even for a day or so. Park near the end of the road and explore the bench.
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rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 646


5/13/2022
rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 646
Rocko1 wrote:
rockhopper wrote:
To Add: So nice to see the sky island of Jeffrey pine, Ponderosa pine amongst other Conifers on the Southern Bench photo. They looked healthy. Hope they can hang on. I need to go there someday!



I called the ranger the day before to confirm the gate was unlocked. Really great area. I commented to Brian while walking through the pine meadows-'you know what you don't see many of? Dead trees'. What was there looked pretty healthy. But as with everything-better go see it sooner than later.

I was shocked at all the cairns leading to the southern edge of the bench-there are quite a few old ones and trails that are choked, we struggled in a few spots. Seems to be 3 'routes' going south-dead center on the ridge and to the east and just west of center. These converge about 1/4 mile before the bench drops onto the crest.

If you haven't been up there I suggest a trip-Even for a day or so. Park near the end of the road and explore the bench.


I will definitely plan a trip to the Southern bench sometime. I have hiked down to around the 7500 ft. elevation just above the bench on the south side and hiked off Toro to the East down to Black Rabbit and to the West down to the "other" abandoned Sawmill several times. That southern bench looks sweet to base camp at. Thanks for posting the video. A little ground snow for water and light winds would be perfect.
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Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 520


5/13/2022
Rocko1
Rocko1
Posts: 520
rockhopper wrote:
Rocko1 wrote:
rockhopper wrote:
To Add: So nice to see the sky island of Jeffrey pine, Ponderosa pine amongst other Conifers on the Southern Bench photo. They looked healthy. Hope they can hang on. I need to go there someday!



I called the ranger the day before to confirm the gate was unlocked. Really great area. I commented to Brian while walking through the pine meadows-'you know what you don't see many of? Dead trees'. What was there looked pretty healthy. But as with everything-better go see it sooner than later.

I was shocked at all the cairns leading to the southern edge of the bench-there are quite a few old ones and trails that are choked, we struggled in a few spots. Seems to be 3 'routes' going south-dead center on the ridge and to the east and just west of center. These converge about 1/4 mile before the bench drops onto the crest.

If you haven't been up there I suggest a trip-Even for a day or so. Park near the end of the road and explore the bench.


I will definitely plan a trip to the Southern bench sometime. I have hiked down to around the 7500 ft. elevation just above the bench on the south side and hiked off Toro to the East down to Black Rabbit and to the West down to the "other" abandoned Sawmill several times. That southern bench looks sweet to base camp at. Thanks for posting the video. A little ground snow for water and light winds would be perfect.



The south meadow is perfect for base camp. Easy to hump water to from your car location, not far to drop off bench, reasonably easy to get to, shade, breeze, views. Another south meadow video-https://imgur.com/jY4RoUUhttps://imgur.com/jY4RoUU
edited by Rocko1 on 5/13/2022
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davidwyby
davidwyby
Posts: 46


16 days ago
davidwyby
davidwyby
Posts: 46
I very much like those mountains. Have spent a lot of weekends up there for over 10 years. Good escape from this desert heat.
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davidwyby
davidwyby
Posts: 46


16 days ago
davidwyby
davidwyby
Posts: 46
Unfortunately, I have been seeing more and more dead trees in the area I frequent.
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