According to Desert Summits, Tecopa Peak can be reached from the east across the desert flats. That may be so, but Shin, Dinah and I opted for a south approach, through intriguing badlands.
After parking on the roadside on the Old Spanish Trail Highway, we started down a dirt road. On our left, badlands extended all the way to Tecopa Peak, while on our right, stretched a flat expanse. We skirted the badlands until we could enter a canyon that headed towards Tecopa Peak. When the canyon narrowed, we climbed out on the left side. But we were soon forced to drop into the wash that cuts into the south flanks of Tecopa Peak.
After reaching the wash, we split up. Shin and Dinah kept left to gain the south ridge close to the summit, while I went right to reach the ridge more directly. I followed the crest until our paths converged just below the summit. Then together we scrambled up the last several metres to the top.
Tecopa Peak is an isolated mountain. Other than desert flats that extend in all directions, there wasn't much to see. So we sat down and had lunch. Afterwards, we started descending, this time following the southeast ridge. At the base of the ridge, we swung left and dropped into a canyon carved in the badlands. The canyon, which held some fascinating features, curled back to our approach route. As we hiked alongside the badlands a second time we couldn't help but be drawn into them. When we spied a large cave we gravitated to it. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a tunnel and Shin crawled right through it.
After returning to our car, Shin suggested we visit China Ranch Date Farm just a few minutes away, east of the town of Tecopa. China Ranch is both strange and wonderful. It's set in an incredibly lush valley incongruous to the surrounding barren Mojave Desert. The Ranch welcomes visitors with its gift shop, beautiful desert gardens and several short hiking trails. Shin and I hiked up the Mesa Trail and were rewarded with expansive views of the verdant valley. China Ranch is oddly exotic and provided a fine finish to our adventure.
Tecopa Peak seen a couple of minutes after starting out (click for a larger image)
At first we kept right and skirted around the badlands
Then we headed to a canyon
At the mouth of the canyon
Tecopa Peak is straight ahead
The canyon narrows
Leaving the canyon
After turning a corner we realized we had to drop to the drainage below
We split up here. Shin and Dinah ascended the slope left of the drainage while I kept right and
gained the ridge above.
I'm almost on the ridge
Shin and Dinah took an easier angle to gain the ridge
Looking at the summit from the ridge
Dublin Hills to the northwest
Dinah and Shin will soon meet up with me
Below the summit it's steep and rocky
Dinah scrambles up
Posing on the summit
Starting down the northeast ridge
At the base of the ridge we dropped into a wash on our left
Water has undercut the bank (mouse over for a closer look)
Back on the route we started on
On the way back we stopped to investigate a cave (mouse over for a closer look)
After our hike we stopped at China Ranch Date Farm
1:24,000 Ibex Pass Topo (4.8 mi, 2697 ft, 1378 ft)
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