Imperial County Highpoint Trip Report

Blue Angels Peak (4,548 ft)

Date: February 18, 2005
Author: Adam Helman

A Compendium of Recent Information

Dennis Dean (February 15)

I wanted to warn those that might be thinking about an Imperial, CA highpoint hike. The highpoint possibilities come within a few feet of the Mexican border. I hiked this back in early January in a pretty good windstorm (50-60 mph).

As I got to within 1/4 mile of the highpoint I noticed three seperate "smuggling camps" which consisted of trash, clothing, and lots of gallon water jugs. I think this is a pretty active area for people coming across the Mexican border.

Upon my return to Arkansas I learned that the State Department had issued a travel advisory warning people of increased criminal activity near the Mexican border. Safety and alertness should be top priority at this remote highpoint. Fortunately, because of the wind I did not see a soul during my two hour hike.

Scott Surgent (February 15)

I hiked this same highpoint in December 1999 and saw evidence of the crossers as well. A major Mexican Interstate highway (MX-2) runs very near the border, which is also relatively close to Interstate-8.

I cannot say whether things have changed much since 1999 - it is always wise to be on your guard while hiking near the border. I have plenty of experiences right along the border with no troubles. Of course, don't be out there at 4 a.m., either! Ironically it's the Border Patrol guys who will likely be your (friendly) nemeses.

The Imperial HP has decent road access and some radio towers nearby, which means it sees more traffic from our side than the more remote open desert locations. The smugglers prefer not to be seen at all and would probably not use a route such as the one near the Imperial highpoint. Probably what happens here is the crossers acting on their own.

The confluence website has some reports of people hiking in the Cabeza Prieta and Tohono O'odham lands of southern AZ, which is notorious for its smuggling activities; bands of crossers wandering for days in the desert; and crime. I would be wary in these parts.

I would be less so, but still attentive, at the Imperial highpoint.

Edward Earl (February 16)

As a resident of a border county, I have hiked in places frequented by the Border Patrol a number of times and have been approached by agents a couple of times. Generally, it is not a problem if you encounter the Border Patrol - just answer their questions. You probably do not have any reason to hide anything, so one can be straightforward. The worst that can happen is they might suspect you could be prospecting a smuggling route, but since you are not smuggling, you can hardly get into trouble.

It is often a good idea to inform the Border Patrol ahead of time if the highpoint is between the border and the first major highway from the border, especially if you (or someone with you) is not a United States citizen.

There is, of course, one (in)famous county highpoint in southwest New Mexcio that requires more caution, but even that case is not as bad as it seems. The Border Patrol is in the business of defending the border - not private property.

John Mitchler (February 17)

On February 2, 2005 Kathy and I climbed Blue Angels Peak without incident, although I was alert due to the nature of the terrain and evidence of numerous border crossings. This was a great hike. We went up in 90 minutes loitered for 30 minutes, and descended in 55 minutes.

The trip reports were good, although I needed a topo too.

It is 185 miles from Los Angeles International Airport to Blue Angels Peak.

Services are available along I-8 at the CA 94 exit, the casino at Exit 61, and the Jacumba exit.

Adam Helman (February 18) -

The State Department travel warning noted by Dennis Dean was a typical knee-jerk reaction resulting from a rash of drug-related kidnappings of American citizens. I am not personally concerned about a sudden increased risk of violence - so long as one does not get involved in drug traffic activities.