With my sister and her family arriving later in the afternoon, I decided to get a peak in before they landed. Derek had mentioned he would like to do another training hike up Mt. Gower, and I needed to summit it again. My last summit was on Dec 24, 2018, so just on the wrong side of the calendar. Unfortunately, the first heatwave of the season hit San Diego. The initial forecast was to be in the 90s. We figured with a sunrise start we should be ok.
We drove out to the end of Gunn Stage Road and parked next to the locked gate. A use trail led us over a small rise and onto the main trail in front of ‘TeePee’ rock. From there we began working our way along the trail. It is always nice to hike with a friend, conversations can certainly make the miles tick away faster.
Passing a lush green meadow, we soon began the push up the mountain. The small bumps we crossed over would not be fun on the way back. Think of it as a mini El Cajon mountain hike.
We passed by the Gower Teeth and soon found ourselves on the granite slabs that surround Mt Gower. While most people will continue upward toward False Gower, we followed a use trail that took us southward. Derek would check his route as we worked our way toward the true summit which sits at the south end of the peak.
Some water was still flowing in some spots making it a tad slick in a few spots. We weaved our way across an open space until we found the route again. Soon rock cairns and Derek’s route had us back on the trail. Soon the true summit came into view. We sat and enjoyed the view and signed the register. The heat was rising so, we knew we needed to start back down.
We began retracing our steps back down. As we crossed back past Gower’s Gate, the heat was starting to take its toll. I began conserving energy as we headed back.
Both Derek and I were completely shocked as we encountered another hiker heading up. Not only were we questioning going up in this heat, but he had no hat or sunglasses. Oh well. I later saw another check-in on peakbagger.com and it turns out this hiker has been bagging peaks left and right.
The heat continued to build and I was starting to suffer. I took a nice break in the little shade I could find. Derek kept pushing forward and I kept my pace at what I could handle.
Once I reached the turnoff to the water tank, I texted Derek I was going to bail here and wait for him to reach the car and drive back and pick me up. I just did not have the energy to descend into the canyon and then back up again.
This was the same starting point I used the first time, so I knew what I was doing. As I walked down the asphalt road, the telltale sounds of a rattlesnake filled the air. Since I was in the middle of the road, I kept on walking. I reached the culdesac and found some shade to wait under. I finally broke down a looked at the actual temperature, 100°F! Yikes! That was a bit more than we planned for and explains why I faded so badly. Derek made it back to the car after a small route-finding error and a shade break as well. Soon he arrived and I climbed into the air-conditioned car. We were both amazed at how hot it got! We agreed that if we knew that it was going to be that hot, we would have found something else to have hiked. But we also realized we both knew what we needed to do to push through the heat.
But I can proudly say that Mt. Gower is now summited for my 100 Peak Challenge! #38!
I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest.