Monday, April 19, 2010

Sacatone Overlook to Goat Canyon Hike

2nd rattle snake I found, he rattled around 100 decibels
AKA - the "I'm so glad I didn't get bit by a fu$@!$$ rattle snake hike". Yes it is Spring and not only do flowers bloom but all the wildlife begins to come out, including rattle snakes and ticks. We managed to cross paths with 2 big Diamondback's on this trip and Scott made friends with a few ticks.

1st rattle snake I saw, about 4' or more
Our plan was to hike from Sacatone Overlook down into Carrizo Gorge and then up Goat Canyon to find the train trestle.

Our Trip Outlined in Google Earth - Green was the planned route, yellow was the actual route we traveled
This hike proved to be much more difficult than I planned. We started out at 7:30am from Sacatone Overlook and started down Cry Baby Hill. We both carried at least 6 liters of water and food for the day. I knew from previous attempts a machete would be a good idea and Scott was ready to go.

Scott is ready to go witha the machete and all
We headed down Cry Baby Hill and over to Balance Rock, there are a lot of really cool volcanic rocks and some wind blown caves along the way.

Small wind blown caves near Balance Rock
Balance Rock
We headed up and over Peak 3679 and evaluated the alluvial fan we would head down. It was a steep and rocky 1 mile downhill with a 2000' elevation loss, that meant a 2000' elevation gain on the way back. This alluvial fan had so many different kinds of rocks we would stop like every 100' or so and start checking them out. Quartz, volcanic, flaky transparent mica, they were all really cool. There were also some more small wind blown caves on this side of the fan. Lots of deer tracks also.

This is the alluvial fan we descended. You can see Carrizo Gorge at the bottom left, we followed that once we were down
Cool rocks on the alluvial fan going down into Carrizo Gorge
Small wind blown caves going down the alluvial fan from Peak 3679
Once we were down in the gorge we had more bush whacking to do and there was a lot of water still flowing. We needed to go 3 canyons over to get to the one the trestle was in but we could see it was going to be a long hike ahead. Scott lead the way with the machete. Again we were amazed by all of the really cool rocks down in the gorge.

Scott whacking a path thru the thorny brush
Check out how the flat piece to the left of Scott fits right up into the large mass of rock
We got to the 3rd canyon and we both looked up and and kinda thought no way, we were not going to be able to climb that. I pulled out the GPS to verify it was the right canyon and it showed us it was the next canyon over so we headed on. I think I must not have zoomed in enough on the GPS because it turned out the 3rd canyon was right, we just could not see the trestle from below because of the steep rocks going up and also the twist of the canyon blocked any view from below. It was in the 4th canyon we saw the 1'st Diamondback and it kinda freaked me because we were already walking thru brush and rocks stepping on stuff we couldn't see thru or what was underneath. We both started rock hopping a lot more. By the time we realized we were in the wrong canyon to see the trestle we needed to turn around and start back to make it to the truck before dark. It would have been zero fun to hike any of the way back in the dark.

We stopped at the water flow and ate some lunch. There was a nice small water fall with a big flat area to lounge. We really saw no sign of human usage of the canyon or mountain areas until we were close to Carrizo Gorge rd.

Having some lunch near the water fall area
This small water fall is in quad 31 of the Jacumba topo
Me near some water flow in the creek, at the bottom of Groan peak (Does that hat make me look fat??)
These "jumping" cactus balls where everywhere and I got them twice, I had to use a machete and rock to pry it off my leg

On our way back we kept stopping to look at more rocks and half way up the alluvial fan I almost stepped on our 2'nd Diamondback of the day and even with the wind blowing so hard that I had to hold my hat I could hear the unmistakable sudden and loud rattle of the snake just a couple of feet away. I Scott went back and took a picture. I decided it was getting late and we needed to move faster so we just started hoofing it back. It was way,way,way windy, like the windy when you can't hear your own voice when you are talking. We got to the bottom of Cry Baby Hill and started the cllimb, the truck awaited us at the top.

Ten hours after we started in the morning, 5900' of elevation gain and 10 miles later we were back at the truck...damn that was a long hike. Good times for sure. Thanks for hanging out with me again Scott.

Full elevation map of the hike


  1. Good times! It only took a week to recover... and I'm glad the name Cry Baby Hill will stick. That will at least make it funny to crawl up on the way back next time.. Thanks for another "fun" hike!

  2. Looks like a cool hike.
    You guys are hardcore. I love that whole Carrizo Gorge area.
    Have hiked in from Mortero Plams and along the tracks. We tried once up through Carrizo Gorge from the East but that Catclaw stuff tore us up.


  3. Thanks Bob, I actually saw your website a few days after we did this hike. I think we will still try again but maybe after the snakes and ticks calm down. From the Google Earth map you can see the correct canyon to ascend but when we looked at it from the canyon it was very steep and very rocky, too much for one day. This would be a great backpack 2 day trip.


  4. NIc hike Daren! That looks very rugged. Not to mention the elevation gain. The pics around the falls area make it look really cool. Did you not see any sign of illegals passing through that area? I have looked down into that canyon and wondered what it would be like. Now I know. I hope you make it next time because standing on that trestle and looking down between the tracks is worth the effort, plus it will be another great story to tell.

  5. We didn't see any signs of humans until around the second canyon where we saw 4 faded water bottles along the way and some misc old clothing in the brush. Any of it could have been dragged down stream with the the recent rains though. Some makeshift caves from the rocks had obvious signs of fire. I feel sorry for anybody who had to traverse that area without good equipment. Kinda silly though with all of the Border Patrol EVERYWHERE.

  6. You inspired me to go and I went down to the Gorge and up Goat Canyon to the trestle, but I declined going back up the same way and I ended up going first downstream the gorge, and then left to the Palm Grove and up to Gasp peak and eventually to the car at Sacotone way past midnight. Brutal but I'd do it again.