Woodson Mountain (Via Fry-Koegel)

A sliver of a moon hung in the eastern sky as I pulled to the side of the road. San Diego was under an extreme heat warning, so I needed to have a very early start to attempt to beat it. I wanted to try the Fry-Koegel trail for this attempt up the summit, having done the other two routes to the summit. If you ever drive along the 67 and see a few cars near the intersection with Archie Moore Road, that is where you should park if you want to use the Fry-Koegel trail. Otherwise, continue on a short bit to park with everyone else who will summit via the Service Road. I pulled over just past the guard rail and parked. As expected, there was no one here. In fact, I only saw two cars near the other trailhead. I gathered my gear, turned my headlamp on, and set off. Besides hoping to reach the summit, my other goal was to keep my pace and exertion level at a reasonable level. The trail initially skirts past a collection of backyards. I would occasionally look back to view the changing sky as we drew closer to sunrise. There was an occasional hoot from an owl to break up the silence.

The trail kept climbing up the north side of the mountain until I reached a fork in the trail. To my left was the old trail, and to my right the new route. Since either route would be new to me, I opted for the old trail. About 1/2 mile later the trail linked up with the trail you would use coming from Lake Poway. The sun had almost risen over the mountains as I now headed eastward and I grabbed a few photos of the first light spilling across the landscape.

The main draw for this hike is the Potato Chip, a piece of granite hanging free that folks love to climb upon. In contrast to the almost Disneyland-like lines which are frequent, I was alone. I snapped a few photos but skipped going onto it. The summit was still a bit further, so I strolled on. I went over to the true summit, just to take a look. I certainly wasn’t planning on scrambling up that summit block either. I pushed the rubber tips onto my trekking poles before I headed down the paved service road.

I was now starting to see folks making their way up. The temperatures were already climbing, so I was glad to be heading back down. The steepness of the road did bother my foot a bit, but it was manageable. The real test will be later today and how it feels then.

I tossed my gear into the car and carefully pulled on the 67 and headed home. When I started the hike, the car said it was 64°, as I sped away, it was now 82°! The entire hike was 5.4 miles in 2:35 and had 1,475 feet of gain. 

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, Central Coast, 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. 

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