El Cajon Mountain Survey Marks
Updated: Jan 31
Recovering the three primary marks on El Cajon Mountain was straightforward and didn't require too much work to locate. All three are mounted in boulders at the summit that are easy to access. Surprisingly, the tallest boulder doesn't have a mark on it! The Station Disc is mounted in the boulder just to the right of the summit sign, Reference Mark 1 is visible on the boulder just past the sign, while Reference Mark 2 is on one of the boulders just to the left of the trail before you reach the sign.
You can start to see how different marks are used as reference objects for distant peaks. In this case, Mount Woodson Cobble Back Mount Lot (PID: DX5027) is a reference object for El Cajon, even though it's located 17.5 kilometers away! (on a bearing of 306º, 26 minutes, 6.6 seconds)
The One That Got Away
I felt pretty confident setting out from the ECM summit to look for the El Cajon Azimuth Mark, after all, I had the bearing and the first look from the summit didn't look all that bad, I could actually make out a reasonable trail over to the ridge.
This first section was pretty easy going, in some places there was a faint Use trail and there were periodic cairns that made me think this would be easier than I had planned. THAT'S how you get sucked in! 🤣 The "trail" quickly disappeared when I went over the ridge, it was steep and the cairns become less frequent. Still, I was on course and there were cairns so I felt somewhat assured. The further down the slope I went, the thicker the brush became. The last 50 or 60 feet required a LOT of effort to get through.
As best as I could tell from my bearing, distance traveled, and the notes from the datasheet, I was in the vicinity of the mark. The problem was there were a lot of boulders that the disc could be mounted on, and many were just buried in brush. I pushed around, slipping and sliding for as long as I felt I could. No luck. It had taken me about an hour to go this half-mile and look around, heading back I had to go through the same brush, but I was climbing instead.
It took me almost another hour to get back to the ECM summit, from there I had a 5-mile trek back to the truck, half of it under lights. As I think about it, the cairns likely marked an ascent route to ECM summit from the El Cajon Truck Trail below and they weren't necessarily there to mark the way to the Azimuth.