Hike to Butterfly Peak, May 13, 2017.

After a hiatus of a month, it was time to hit the trails again. Diana and Jorge decided to hike to three peaks in the Desert Divide area: Butterfly Peak, Gold hill, and Rock Point, for a total of about 8 miles. I thought that would be a good hike to ease back in to it….

Just when I walked out of the Starbucks, Jorge called me to tell me they were running a little late because he had locked the keys for the Jalapeno in the car, and they would have to gather some additional gear before getting on the road. I told him not to worry, and that everything would work out OK. Later, Diana told me he actually was considering to cancel the hike, but she told him: we have three cars and 6 back packs, we can make it!!!

We met up in Hemet, from where we all drove in Jorge's car to the starting point of the hike, southeast of Mountain Center. After some confusion about where the actual trail begins, we hiked up the paved road, along some private properties and following an old dirt road to Gold Hill, passing by some very tall Yuccas in full bloom. We decided to hike up this hill on the way back from Butterfly Peak. Continuing on, the road started to climb in earnest and became quite rocky, not helping my tender feet! About 15 feet after we passed by a second mine shaft, an old miners “trail” very steeply went straight uphill over and around large boulders and through brush to an open area which had a mine shaft coming straight out of the ground. After a short break here, we kept on climbing to a saddle where it took some time to figure out which route to take to the summit. After a while we followed the ducks going into a shallow canyon and climbed the western slopes to the summit ridge. Once on the ridge it was a short distance to the summit blocks, which were easily climbed, and enjoyed the wonderful 360 degree views.

Going back down, we followed the same trail to a point where we should have gone through the shallow canyon, but instead went uphill to a point where we figured we went in the wrong direction. We quickly found the right way though, and after plowing through some heavy brush, we were back on track. From there we steeply dropped down the slope until we reached a steep 20 foot drop-off just above the dirt road. Turning a little to the left, we found some old mining cables, which we used to slide down to the bottom right at the entrance of the second mining shaft!

After all this thrashing up and down large boulders and through unforgiving brush, my feet and the rest of me were pretty beat up, and I decided not to climb the other two peaks. When we reached the turn-off for Gold Hill, we took a short break and Diana and Jorge told me they would save the other two peaks for another time as well. Just before the end of the trail we ran into a large snake, but it looked pretty innocent. After getting back to the car, we drove back to Hemet, where we said our goodbyes and drove home.