Today’s plan was to summit Santiago Peak, followed by Modjeska Peak. We drove up from the Maple Springs Trailhead to the pullout to start our adventures. The forecast from NOAA seemed to be good enough for us to hike the 5 or so miles for these summits. After applying a good amount of sunscreen, we set off to Santiago. It felt a light warmer than we wanted, but it was still pleasant enough. We reached the junction with the side trail that would allow us to leave the main road. I took the lead as we followed the slightly overgrown trail up toward the summit. The shade was welcomed, but there was now an uptick in the number of bugs that were beginning to swarm around us. We passed by the crashed truck. How it got here is a puzzle I would love to solve one day…
I kept pushing myself up the trail. I have to keep reminding myself that I am still rebuilding my fitness from being off-trail due to my foot for almost a year. The towers on the summit drew nearer, and soon we reached the summit. We snapped some photos and then found some shade to cool off under. But the bugs were just too bothersome to linger, plus it was getting toasty.
We retraced our route and found ourselves at the saddle between the two summits. Now we took a different trail that would climb toward the road that leads to Modjeska. The trail is a bit more exposed, so we could feel the sun beating down on us. Once at the junction, I found some shade to rest for a bit. Although the summit was about 1/2 mile away, I did not feel up to it (plus I had driving responsibilities). Modjeska was the peak that Susie was interested in summiting, so she set off for it. I cruised back down to the car and relaxed for about 20 minutes until Susie returned. She was thankful I had been running the AC in the car. The thermometer on the car read 101! WTF! That was a far cry from the mid-80s that were forecasted.
While on the way up we only saw 2 motorcycles, but this time we had some traffic to deal with. One jeep was coming up way too fast and they had to dive into the brush to avoid the collision. I squeezed by them, but still got some new pin-strips on my car. Once back with some cell signal, we punched in the route home and our estimated time to home was over 2 1/2 hours! Switching apps, it found a route through the surface streets that avoid whatever mess was happening in Dana Point. While I would have liked to have gotten both peaks, I know I will be back as I have promised to bring Ted up here so he can work on his SoCal county high points. While the hike itself was only 4.3 with 1,020 feet of gain, part of the test was seeing how the foot would do with a bit more driving. So far it is feeling pretty good.
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.