Today was going to be a real test of my foot. I have to admit, I was nervous. It had been almost a year since I had done any real hiking and today’s hike up Volcan Mountain was going to be my longest and highest effort. My primary goal for the rest of 2023 is to try to complete several Six Pack of Peak Challenges. Ted pulled up to my house just before 7 am, and I tossed him the keys to the Subaru so he could make the hour-long drive to the trailhead. I did not want to over-exert my foot by driving. The drive was uneventful–the familiar road passing quickly by. I still can’t believe they haven’t finished rebuilding the McDonalds in Ramona yet. When we arrived at the trailhead, there were only about 4 cars parked along the road. I was a bit surprised that there were so few cars, but a quieter summit is always welcomed. We gathered our gear and set off. After a quick bio-break at the porta-potties, we passed through the ornate gateway and the hike began.
I had thought that my hike on Volcan Mountain back in 2022 was when my plantar fasciitis became an issue. Turns out I was off by a couple of weeks, it was actually when we hiked Santa Ysabel East, which is just a few miles away, that the injury occurred. Nevertheless, I was going to be pushing my foot and my fitness on this hike. The well-groomed dirt road quickly gained elevation and I could feel my heart begin to beat faster. This was going to be my 7th time climbing this peak, so I was quite familiar with what lay before me. My heart kept pounding away while my lungs kept working overtime. We opted to stay on the main road and not use the Five Oaks Trail like we normally do. The foot was doing well up the steep grades, each step closer to the summit. I pushed through the tougher sections, knowing that an easier section was just over the rise or around the bend. Soon, we passed under the pines, and the open meadow near the summit came into view. I knew that in a few minutes, I would reach the summit!
I sat in the shade on the picnic bench next to the abandoned aerial navigation tower and enjoyed my well-earned rest. After a bit, it was time to set off back down from the summit. In many ways, this was the bigger test of my foot. We stopped off at the actual benchmark and grabbed a few photos with the summit signs and one with my Six-Pack-of-Peaks tag. One down, five to go!
The weather was near perfect, with nice temperatures, a light breeze, and fairly clear skies. More importantly, not a lot of bugs. The descent went well as we retraced our route and a few more folks were making their way up toward the summit. The nice thing about descending was I was no longer breathing so hard that you could hear me all the way in Julian.
Soon we were back at the car. It was still too early for a sandwich at Dudley’s or a pint at Calico Cidery, so we headed directly home. During the hike, I purposefully did not look at my tracker, but now that we were done I wanted to see how long it took. Back in 2022, Ted and I did this hike in just over 2 hrs. (using the slightly longer Five Oaks Trail). AllTrails reports the average time for this hike at 2:41. We clocked our active hiking at 2:11! I honestly did not believe it. This really made me feel a lot better about the whole journey.
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.