Otay Mountain & Tecate Peak
June 20, 2021
100 Peaks Challenge #s 79 & 80
When I first decided to attempt this challenge, I knew that there were a few peaks that could be driven. I had decided that I would hike at least a little bit, to be true to the “spirit” of the challenge. So far the only peak that I have not walked even a little bit of is Boucher Hill, which I justified by (a.) having done a longish hike already that day; and (b.) the fact that I have hiked it in the past.
Well, today that commitment pretty much went out the window. Today’s two peaks – Otay Mountain and Tecate – like Big Black last weekend, are peaks that I really don’t ever want to hike. (Although I would like to hike all the hikes in Afoot & Afield, as a lifetime challenge – and if I pull that off I’m gonna have to…)
The weather this weekend was unusual in that the higher we drove, the hotter it got. The low valleys were kept cool by our June gloom fog layer, which we punched through as we ascended the winding dirt road in Tara’s Jeep. After passing some Border Patrol eye candy we arrived at the top of Otay Mountain. Getting out of the Jeep took our breath away with the significantly warmer air than down below. I suppose we did hike a bit atop Otay – maybe 100 yards or so, over to the boulder pile that made up the highest point on the broad summit. It was tricky getting summit photos that avoided antenna, fence, or electrical wires photo bombs, but we managed.
We took a chance and headed down the mountain via the road that heads eastward from Doghouse Junction. It was long and rugged, but totally doable, and dumped us onto the 94 much closer to our next destination.
Tecate Peak is along the Mexican border just west of the border crossing. On the US side, the “town” of Tecate is basically just one huge parking lot with cars parked literally everywhere – some obviously untouched for weeks or months, maybe even years. We headed west alongside the border wall, avoiding the parked cars jutting into the roadway, until the road eventually became more rugged and headed up the side of the mountain to the peak. This time there was even less “hiking” – simply a paved walkway to the summit. It was an interesting view, looking down on the border wall as it petered out along the mountainside, and to see the stark differences between the rural landscape on the US side and the vibrant town of over 100,000 residents on the Mexican side.
We had discussed walking across the border for some tacos – there are no restaurants of any kind on the US side – but not all of us had passports, and despite the lack of effort today, we were pretty much done.