Pilot Knob for Posterity

I hiked up Pilot Knob today–the third time this year.  About time I documented this local hike, eh?

It’s named so because it once served as a navigation point for boat pilots making their way up the mighty Colorado River from the Sea of Cortez, a prominent landmark.  That was before all the irrigation canals were built, of course, which leaves the Colorado a not-so-mighty trickle by the time it reaches the Sea today.

But the name stands.  As well it should.  For Marine aviation pilots use the mountain today to let them know international airspace boundaries.  More on that below.

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Pilot Knob is the lone mountain behind the farm in the foreground.  I took this photo just a few blocks from my house.  The mountain is in California; I’m in Arizona; much of the area between me and the mountain is Mexico.  How does that work?  Well, I’m looking to the northwest, if that helps.  Maybe GoogleMaps can give you a better idea.

Anyway, it’s a mere 20-minute drive to the trailhead (I have to drive about four miles to the east and then a couple to the north and then back west for several miles to skirt around a corner of Mexico).  I can hike to the top and back in about an hour, meaning there and back from my house in just over an hour and a half.

But did I say “Lone Mountain”?  Hmm.  I wonder: maybe Smaug’s cousin inhabits it; maybe I’ll meet up with some dwarfs. . . .

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So, a shot at the trailhead.

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A couple shots of a nice ocotillo in bloom.  Notice the RVs in the background of the second shot.  People will camp on this BLM land in the southeasternmost corner of California from September till May.  Cost is $186.  That’s less than a dollar a day.

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Unlike many of my Friday hikes and scrambles, this one has a well-defined trail.  No scrambling today.  Just some steeps.

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More well-defined trail; and a nifty rock formation.

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Looking down (to the west) at my ascent thus far.  That nifty rock formation from the last photo is about a third of the way up from the bottom, right in the middle.  RVs dot the landscape below.

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Taken from the same spot as the previous photo but I’ve rotated 180 degrees.  Still have something of an ascent before me.

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Now at the top ridge nearing the summit, this view captures many desert sights and sounds at once.  I’m facing north.  The tallest peak on the near horizon is Stud Mountain, where I was last week.  To the right a ways on the more distant horizon is Picacho Peak (which I’ve blogged about previously).  Behind Picacho the Colorado River bends to the west (going upstream), with much more water there than the trickle down here, downstream of the Imperial Dam (which diverts the river into so many irrigation canals).  In the foreground you can spy a train on the valley floor, and (with eagle eyes) the interstate complete with agricultural inspection station on the westbound side.

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I’m at the summit now looking southeast.  The town in the foreground is Los Algodones, Mexico.  You can see it come to a distinct corner just to the left of the hill.  Beyond the corner–the fields–is Arizona (my neighborhood is just beyond the green patch in the middle); on this side California.  Los Algodones is a pie-wedge town, bordered by a fence on one side and shallow-bottom Border Patrol boats (and a parched river) on another.

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I took this shot from the same place, now looking directly south with my telephoto maxed (on my cheap snapshot digital camera).  Do you see the fence?  Kinda looks like a wall to me.  Does Trump know about this?  So what’s all his rhetoric about building a wall?  It sorta seems like we’ve already got one.  Anyway, just in front of the wall is a road.  And–do you see the white (late model four-wheel-drive) vehicle with green highlights?–an agent is patrolling it.

Between us–you the reader and me the writer who lives smack dab on the Mexican border–I can’t really grasp whatever Trump’s concept is.

Anyway, now do you get why this lone mountain is a good navigation point for modern Marine aviation pilots as well as the ship pilots of yesteryear?  Flying south of it means leaving American airspace, even if only for a few seconds.

But enough about politics.

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Looking directly east now, Telegraph Peak (another frequently hiked trail for me) is on the horizon.  In between is mostly Yuma, the town I call home.

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Well, no dragon or dwarfs today.  But another mountain conquered in Jesus’ name!

(Not sure how I feel about this. . . .)

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