I started just after 7:30 under the typical “June Gloom”, with my good friends Susie Kara and Gail Welch joined me on what was to be my 6th summit toward the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge (however, I am continuing on toward summiting the rest of them). The trail gently worked its way from the busy highway into the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness. Wildflowers still dotted the sides of the trail. The grey skies provided some nice relief, as there was not a lot of shade to be found while we worked our way to the peak. The entire route is now nicely marked with white signs at each of the junctions.
We came to the turn-off for the final push to the summit. This last portion is where you earn your peak-bagging merit badge, as the trail now becomes very steep and slippery. In fact, I actually fell while ascending one particularly tough section. Brushing myself off, I continued making my way up to the summit.
Once there, we had a well-earned break. Although the clouds had burned off near us, and the marine layer still socked in the coast, Santiago Peak stood out clearly to the north of us. After snapping a few photos with the summit sign, we started to gather our gear and prepared to tackle the tricky descent that awaited us. Just then a group of four ladies arrived at the summit, making it the perfect time for us to depart.
We made it down the steep section with no issues and then began cruising back to the trailhead. While we had only passed about 5 hikers on our way up, during our descent we passed about double that. Before we knew it we were back at the cars.
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.