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Pinyon Wash to Harper Cabin Messages in this topic - RSS

surfponto
surfponto
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4/7/2024
surfponto
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Not an extreme hike compare to what some of you guys do but thought I would post it anyway 😉

First night we camped down in Jojoba Wash but man oh man the military air traffic was ridiculous.
The final straw was a military Osprey thundering through the sky at 1AM shaking the truck camper.
On the positive side there was an amazing cactus bloom display.
We spent the next day hiking around taking cactus pictures but decided we would camp further north the next night.

Beavertail in bloom (Jojoba Wash)



Barrel Cactus in bloom (Jojoba Wash)


Hedgehog in bloom (Jojoba Wash)

Next day we drove over to Pinyon Wash which I have now decided is my favorite area to camp. We have camped here before but it has been at least 10 years as all of our camping is usually south of Scissors Crossing.

After a better night's sleep i.e. no air traffic, we decided we would hike up to see how much was left of the old Harper Cabin site.
Last time we hiked here was on an Anza Borrego Foundation sponsored hike led by Mark Jorgensen, so we were curious as to how it has fared in the last 10 plus years.
We got an early start and reached Harper Flat by 9AM. There was a great display of Desert Dandelions covering the valley floor so of course we had to take a bunch of pictures.

A field of Desert Dandelions (Harper Flat)


Not soon after we met up with a lone mountain biker that was doing a big overnight loop from Borrego Springs, unfortunately for him, he had run out of water so we offered to fill one of his water bottles. He mentioned that he had not slept that well the previous night since he was worried about his lack of water, so we were glad to help him out.


After saying goodbye to our new friend and hiking up a couple incorrect tributaries we did find the old cabin. It was in much better shape than either of us predicted.


Old water trough which is your clue you are close to the cabin



Maybe to call it a "cabin" is a stretch but it is cool nonetheless.😀


The old dam is not going anywhere.
This thing is solid and is truly an engineering marvel considering the time period it was built.




Fishhook cactus blooming in Pinyon Wash



Beavertail blooms in Pinyon Wash
edited by surfponto on 4/7/2024

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tekewin
tekewin
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4/11/2024
tekewin
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Those blooms are amazing. Sounds like a successful trip and kudos for being kind to the biker.

Is the road OK all the way to Harper Flat or even Hapaha Flat? I've only been down that road a little ways to hike to Sunset Mountain.
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surfponto
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4/11/2024
surfponto
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We went via Pinyon Wash but yes the road in from the other side looked fine.
I have never gone that way and it looks interesting.

Yep the cactus flowers were great. Such a good time to take a trip out there. 👍

tekewin wrote:
Those blooms are amazing. Sounds like a successful trip and kudos for being kind to the biker.

Is the road OK all the way to Harper Flat or even Hapaha Flat? I've only been down that road a little ways to hike to Sunset Mountain.


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tekewin
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4/11/2024
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surfponto wrote:
We went via Pinyon Wash but yes the road in from the other side looked fine.
I have never gone that way and it looks interesting.

Yep the cactus flowers were great. Such a good time to take a trip out there. 👍



Thanks!
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tommy750
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4/11/2024
tommy750
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Nice TR, Surfponto! I feel your pain regarding the Marines flying stuff overhead. I live five miles away from El Centro NAF and see/hear/feel their big birds at all hours of the day including midnight. The Blue Angels practice here every winter and 5-6 F-18s flying overhead makes your ears ring. Have never visited Harper Cabin. Glad to hear it's surviving. Agree, Pinyon wash is a great camping spot and great starting off point for lots of hikes to Sunset, the four nearby guzzlers, Pinyon Mt, Whale, Harper Flat. Was out at Split Rock a couple months ago and met hikers coming in from Pinyon to check out the pictographs.
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surfponto
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4/11/2024
surfponto
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I am guessing that is the flight path. El Centro NAF over Jojoba Wash then to the coast. It has gotten so noisy there.
Still love the area but most likely will overnight camp elsewhere in the future.
I will have to check out some of those areas you mentioned near Pinyon Wash. Haven't been over by Split Rock in a long time
Harper Flat is huge and I am sure you could spend a few days just exploring that area.

tommy750 wrote:
Nice TR, Surfponto! I feel your pain regarding the Marines flying stuff overhead. I live five miles away from El Centro NAF and see/hear/feel their big birds at all hours of the day including midnight. The Blue Angels practice here every winter and 5-6 F-18s flying overhead makes your ears ring. Have never visited Harper Cabin. Glad to hear it's surviving. Agree, Pinyon wash is a great camping spot and great starting off point for lots of hikes to Sunset, the four nearby guzzlers, Pinyon Mt, Whale, Harper Flat. Was out at Split Rock a couple months ago and met hikers coming in from Pinyon to check out the pictographs.


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Britain
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4/11/2024
Britain
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I was on Granite a while back. Lots of jet traffic that day. Nice captures. I also live about 5 miles from NAF El Centro. Lol I get all the traffic to and from Yuma right over my house. It's really loud when the Blue Angles are in town. Harper flat area is a cool place to hike around and explore.

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Brian
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4/12/2024
Brian
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tekewin wrote:
Those blooms are amazing. Sounds like a successful trip and kudos for being kind to the biker.

Is the road OK all the way to Harper Flat or even Hapaha Flat? I've only been down that road a little ways to hike to Sunset Mountain.


That road ends at a canyon which is a short hike up to Harper Flat. The road that passes Harper Flat on the other side can be accessed 2 ways. One end goes in from Pinyon Mountain Road (which necessitates negotiating the squeeze and heart attack hill). The other end goes in from Fish Creek and passes through Hapaha Flat. The biggest obstacle I know of on that route comes just before you get to Hapaha and looks like this:



It's no longer legal to drive through Harper Flat (despite the fact someone did it last summer and was later found dead).
edited by Brian on 4/12/2024
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tekewin
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4/12/2024
tekewin
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Brian wrote:


That road ends at a canyon which is a short hike up to Harper Flat. The road that passes Harper Flat on the other side can be accessed 2 ways. One end goes in from Pinyon Mountain Road (which necessitates negotiating the squeeze and heart attack hill). The other end goes in from Fish Creek and passes through Hapaha Flat. The biggest obstacle I know of on that route comes just before you get to Hapaha and looks like this:



It's no longer legal to drive through Harper Flat (despite the fact someone did it last summer and was later found dead).
edited by Brian on 4/12/2024




Thanks! That's great information. I might try a hike to Harper Flat from Pinyon Wash. I want no part of the squeeze or heart attack hill. Coming from Fish Creek is a lot of driving. The Vallecito Mountains and surroundings seem like a really remote part of the park.
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Britain
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4/12/2024
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tekewin wrote:
Brian wrote:




I always thought Harpers was a closed area for vehicles. Park maps show no vehicle trails in it. Weekend warriors.



It's no longer legal to drive through Harper Flat (despite the fact someone did it last summer and was later found dead).
edited by Brian on 4/12/2024




Thanks! That's great information. I might try a hike to Harper Flat from Pinyon Wash. I want no part of the squeeze or heart attack hill. Coming from Fish Creek is a lot of driving. The Vallecito Mountains and surroundings seem like a really remote part of the park.

edited by Britain on 4/12/2024

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Brian
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4/12/2024
Brian
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Britain wrote:


I always thought Harpers was a closed area for vehicles. Park maps show no vehicle trails in it. Weekend warriors.



Older topo maps do show a jeep trail going through Harpers, but it's been closed to vehicles for probably about 30 years. I hiked through there last September and saw the wheel tracks of the guy who drove in over the summer. He went around a fence that's supposed to keep it closed off from the main road.
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Britain
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4/12/2024
Britain
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Brian wrote:
Britain wrote:


I always thought Harpers was a closed area for vehicles. Park maps show no vehicle trails in it. Weekend warriors.



Older topo maps do show a jeep trail going through Harpers, but it's been closed to vehicles for probably about 30 years. I hiked through there last September and saw the wheel tracks of the guy who drove in over the summer. He went around a fence that's supposed to keep it closed off from the main road.


It was fenced on the heartsttack hill side or was 10 years ago. Haven't been there for a decade or so. Indian hill area is getting trashed from wheelers and the carrizo creek area is trashed by the painted gorge wheelers.

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surfponto
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4/12/2024
surfponto
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Agree. I want to spend a day or two just exploring Harper Flat 👍

Britain wrote:
I was on Granite a while back. Lots of jet traffic that day. Nice captures. I also live about 5 miles from NAF El Centro. Lol I get all the traffic to and from Yuma right over my house. It's really loud when the Blue Angles are in town. Harper flat area is a cool place to hike around and explore.


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surfponto
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4/12/2024
surfponto
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It is a really nice hike. A little bouldering at the beginning of Pinyon Wash but nothing too technical
Here is a shot of my wife coming up one of the sections.


tekewin wrote:
Thanks! That's great information. I might try a hike to Harper Flat from Pinyon Wash. ...I want no part of the squeeze or heart attack hill....

edited by surfponto on 4/12/2024
edited by surfponto on 4/12/2024

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Britain
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4/12/2024
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Nice to have your wife into hiking. Mine loves it specially in the rocks.

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surfponto
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4/12/2024
surfponto
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Most definitely. Makes it that much more enjoyable. 👍🥾

Britain wrote:
Nice to have your wife into hiking. Mine loves it specially in the rocks.


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tommy750
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4/12/2024
tommy750
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Brian wrote:
tekewin wrote:
Those blooms are amazing. Sounds like a successful trip and kudos for being kind to the biker.

Is the road OK all the way to Harper Flat or even Hapaha Flat? I've only been down that road a little ways to hike to Sunset Mountain.


That road ends at a canyon which is a short hike up to Harper Flat. The road that passes Harper Flat on the other side can be accessed 2 ways. One end goes in from Pinyon Mountain Road (which necessitates negotiating the squeeze and heart attack hill). The other end goes in from Fish Creek and passes through Hapaha Flat. The biggest obstacle I know of on that route comes just before you get to Hapaha and looks like this:



It's no longer legal to drive through Harper Flat (despite the fact someone did it last summer and was later found dead).
edited by Brian on 4/12/2024

Definitely right, Brian. That's always been the fun spot to squeeze through although I thinks someone moved a few rocks from the right side that made it a speck easier in the past couple months at least for my pickup.
Speaking of the ex-Navy Seal found dead in Harper Canyon, was wondering when someone would mention it on the forum. Here's a couple news reports if anyone is not familiar with the story:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlW6PfpO1og

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZDzp74oj1w

I bumped into a knowledgeable source who mentioned the Tacoma was airlifted out of Harper Flat since it was pretty beat up. Assuming we'll never hear what really happened but a very tragic story.

Was able to find the Tacoma location on GE and the news reports gave info on where the individuals were located.

Seal Woman and Tacoma (1) by tomteske, on Flickr

Gary and I walked out there a while back and found ?helo landing gear imprints in the sand but no other vehicle tracks. Didn't have the Tacoma location at the time but apparently walked within twenty feet of its prior location and didn't see anything.

IMG_6515 by tomteske, on Flickr

Track by Tacoma by tomteske, on Flickr
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Brian
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4/12/2024
Brian
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tommy750 wrote:

Was able to find the Tacoma location on GE and the news reports gave info on where the individuals were located.


Wow, the Tacoma was located much further west than I imagined. I had assumed he had driven to a point much closer to Harper Canyon since that is the way he tried to get out. Would have been much easier for him if he had walked down to Pinyon Wash.

The truck hadn't been airlifted out last September when I was there, but I didn't see it. I must have been fairly close. I was taking a friend up that canyon from Pinyon Wash and then over to see the ruins of the cabin. If I had been by myself, I might have explored a bit more and followed the wheel tracks which were still fresh at the time.
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Britain
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4/14/2024
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Wasn't there some kid that took his dad's Tahoe stuck in the squeeze and disappeared years ago also?

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Brian
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4/14/2024
Brian
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Britain wrote:
Wasn't there some kid that took his dad's Tahoe stuck in the squeeze and disappeared years ago also?


Yep. I think he actually went in from the other end. From Fish Creek. But the truck was found near the bottom of heart attack hill and one of the tires was completely destroyed, so he wouldn't have been able to make it out that way even if that was a 2 way road (which it isn't). I first found out about that when I was looking at Google Earth to familiarize myself with the area and someone had posted a bunch of pics from the search for the kid.
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