Strawberry Peak

With my lingering back issue, Ted graciously offered to take over the driving duties. We pulled in the Red Box parking area just a touch before 8 a.m. I put my America the Beautiful pass on the dashboard and we set about getting ready. The reason a pass is needed is this area does have bathrooms available. Another group of hikers was getting ready to hit the trail as well. I then realized I had forgotten the strawberries I brought to eat at the summit, so we headed back to the car. We crossed the highway and stopped for photos in front of the trail marker.  We caught up with the group from the parking lot and they let us pass. The first couple of miles or so were pretty gentle, so we cruised along nicely, stopping to snap a photo or two along the way.

Once we reached Lawlor Saddle, the real effort would begin. So far my back was causing no issues. I was also using my Osprey waist pack instead of my usual daypack to keep any weight off my upper back. We started the climb up toward one of several false summits.

At the top of one of those false summits, we took a short break. One big change for me in using a waist pack is I have to either stop for some hydration or have a manageable section of trail to grab a drink from my bottle. With my day pack I use a water bladder and a hose, so it is easy to grab a quick sip of water. Soon the true summit came into view and we found ourselves amongst several others enjoying their achievements. We learned that the group we had been leapfrogging was a group of Russian Jews. If we had found three more Jews, we could have had a minyan on the summit! I broke out the strawberries and they were really flavorful! After our snacks and soaking in the views, we said goodbye to the group and began our descent.

I was starting to feel a little discomfort in my back, but nothing to raise any concerns. We took it carefully, but I still wound up slipping once. The worst part was I mentally told myself to be careful just before I slipped. I brushed off the dirt and continued on. We encountered quite a few folks (some with their furry hiking partners) making their way up. As we neared the end of the hike, volunteers were doing some trail maintenance. We stopped and thanked them for their efforts. The parking lot came into view. Ted’s tracker had us at over 7 miles, while mine logged us at 6.8 miles. I clocked our moving time at 3:48, so we made decent time on the hike.

Now onto the next part of the adventure, exploring Mt. Wilson. We headed up to the Cosmic Café and grabbed some lunch. Other hikers milled about the various tables. After enjoying our well-earned sandwiches, we set off to explore the various telescopes and exhibits. My back was hurting a bit more, and I was hoping the pain relievers would kick in soon.

We took our time, as we had to pick up Ted’s youngest from an event at Tustin at 8 p.m. So after viewing the 100” inch telescope, we made the short walk down the trail to Echo Rock. The views were sweeping and as a bonus, some summit signs! We sat and relaxed on the chairs watching small clouds form, drift upward, and then evaporate. We returned to the main parking lot and headed over to see if we could find one of the markers. Off in the southeast corner, we finally located it. We grabbed a few more photos and then headed down the mountain. After exploring some offerings at Divine Science Brewery and dinner at Lucille’s BBQ, we picked up Ted’s son and headed home. My back had stopped aching, so that was a good sign for me.

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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