Edward Earl needs only a few peaks to complete the San Diego County prominence list down to 800 feet. Vallecito Mountain in east county, desert terrain, is thus our goal.
We drive a day early, Saturday at 5 a.m., owing to a poor Sunday forecast. The hike starts at 7:14 a.m. and entails 2,800 feet of net gain, of which the first 1,400 feet is up a canyon wash near or atop an often sandy jeep road. Beyond that and we go cross-country, around and over boulders, to the summit.
This effort is a long day owing to the boulder-hopping and large distances. There is no way to completely avoid the boulders; although wise route navigation lowers the extent of negotiating both refrigerator- and bed-sized incarnations. A theoretically "ideal" route would be Class 2. As-is, a single Class 4 move was made in addition to several Class 3 moves on descending certain slick boulders in the wash.
We overshoot the eight hour round-trip estimate, taking 5 hours 9 minutes just to summit. The return consumes 4 hours 30 minutes and, being 5:30 p.m. it is almost completely dark when my truck is located, the sun having set around 4:50 p.m.
Remarkably, this is the only time in recent memory that I failed to secure a GPS reading prior to the climb. Armed with such a reading would have lowered to nearly zero the chance of being stuck on the desert floor until morning for want of visibility.
I now feel "whole" again - having gotten outdoors. Hopefully I won't get "antsy" for another climbing trip before Thanksgiving in just ten days or so. At that time Edward and I have peakbagging plans in south Nevada.