Granite Mountain #2, Whale Peak

9 January 1988

By: Bob Henderson

Leaders: Bob Henderson, John Cheslick

Twelve people met at Blair Valley in the Anza-Borrego Desert on a beautiful warm day. The meeting place, Blair Valley Ranger Station turned out to be an assembly of old porta-potties.

After moving to the south of Granite #2, we started up over a good route, making the peak in three hours. The route description in the guides for both peaks is excellent. We were enjoying a great view when we saw three more people coming up our route: Jack Haddad, Frank Dobos, and Ruth Lee Brown. They had been delayed by the dense ground fogs near Lake Elsinore. Shirley Akawie was slowed somewhat on the rough terrain on the way back by severe cramps in both legs, but determination kept her near the group. We all stopped at the old mine works on the way back and enjoyed a much smoother walk back down to the cars.

Our car camp was near the turnoff to Whale. The campfire had to be placed in a wastebasket since the Anza-Borrego rules prohibit leaving fire remains in the desert. Fred Johnson provided lots of extra firewood. Musical instruments were provided by Roy Stewart and Karen Nikisher. Dick Akawie entertained us with tales of driving to peaks in reverse gear.

We had enjoyed perfect hiking weather, but the clear desert night got cold, as those few of us who slept outside or left water out noticed the next morning.

Whale was a quicker hike. We started our drive at 7:00AM and were back at the cars around noon. Jack had left us the day before, so fourteen of us followed lots of ducks, and a group of backpackers to the summit. The top even has an old sign on the largest rock. Other participants were Magdaline Quinlan, Bob Sumner, Alice Cahill, Dave Welbourne and Tom Neely.

After the hike, the group scattered for other pleasures, such as dipping their bods in the hot springs. But five of us drove up to Hot Springs Peak. There, we saw a very big pig guarding the gate, ice on the road, and a hang glider diving onto us on the peak.

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