Today’s plan included finally having a chance to hike with Gina Norte and cross Hot Springs Mountain off my 6POP list. For those who don’t know Gina, she might be the “queen” of Hot Springs Mountain. She was the driving force in allowing for Hot Springs Mountain to be included on the challenge. We have been Facebook friends for some time, but have never been able to have our schedules sync up.
When I woke up, a mist/light rain was falling, I figured it was nothing more than some coastal drizzle, & I did not give it much attention. As I kept driving out toward Warner Springs, I began to fear that the forecast I looked at the night before was off. I really hadn’t planned for a wet hike… Luckily, as I neared the guard shack at the reservation to drop off my $10 entry fee, the skies became clear.
I parked in my usual spot, and Gina soon pulled up and parked under the shade of a nice oak tree. After some introductions in real life, we set off. If you have never hiked Hot Springs Mountain, the first two miles will get your blood pumping! We took a relaxed pace as we worked our way up the dirt road.
The clouds rolled in the valley below us, making for some dramatic views. Soon, it was time to slip on the bug nets as the flies began to swarm. Once past the steeper section, the grade eased. Gina was in full tour guide mode, filling me in on so much about the mountain and the tribe that lives there the Los Coyotes Tribe. I never knew that they did not have electricity until 2000!
Before we knew it, the abandoned fire tower came into view. We decided to go climb the actual summit block first. Following the well-marked use trail, we reached the summit in short order. We scaled the summit following the same route as I took on my last visit.
As we sat there, the clouds still swirled below us to the west, while so many familiar peaks stood clearly to the east. After grabbing a snack and photos, we carefully made our way down. Just around the north side, a ladder has been set up for an alternate route. I scrambled up to photograph another reference mark.
We next wandered over to the old fire tower. This is the “Potato Chip” for this peak. Normally, Palomar would be visible to the west, but today the clouds hid it from us. Speaking of clouds, they started to move in, so we set off back down the mountain.
The breeze had picked up, so the bugs were being kept at bay as we made our way down. Gina told me about some possible new trails that might be opening on the mountain. This would be so exciting. For a long time all access to this peak was closed, so to have the possibility of seeing more of this beautiful reservation was wonderful news. We talked about how to inform hikers to be respectful of not only the trail but the rest of the land and its heritage.
Before we knew it, we were back at the cars. We chatted some more, but real life beckoned. We made some plans for some future adventures and said our goodbyes. Somewhere near Ramona, I realized I left my poles on the top of the car! I guess I will use my backup pair until I can pick my replacements from REI.
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.