The morning was a tad chilly when we pulled into the parking lot across from the trailhead for Sitton Peak. This was to be my 6th peak for my 2023 SoCal Six Pack of Peak Challenge. Ted had never hiked this peak with me, so he was up for a new adventure. I also invited one of my co-workers along for the almost 10-mile round-trip journey through the San Mateo Wilderness. Once Maegan arrived, I introduced her to Ted, and we quickly gathered our gear. Ted and Maegan opted for an extra layer, while I stuck with just my base layer. The forecast was for a high of about 77°F, so I knew it would soon be warming up as the sun rose. Plus, I am using a waist pack until my back is up to having the weight of a pack on it. We scurried across the newly paved highway and began our adventure. I explained the hike could be broken into sections, one for each trail junction, and the final climb. This was my fourth time up the summit, so I felt very comfortable leading them. Near the trailhead, I signed us in and we set off.
After a bit, both Ted and Maegan shed their initial layers as the day indeed was starting to warm up. We also stopped from time to time as a plant would catch Maegan’s attention. She had taken a course on the local plants and was trying to put those skills to use.
The miles passed, and we paused at each junction for a short break. We chatted about various things as we drew nearer to the summit. After we passed Four Corners, I was keeping an eye out for a possible campsite. I originally had planned to do this peak as an overnight, but I certainly wasn’t going to attempt any backpacking anytime soon. We spied the use trail to the campsite and it looked to be a good one (ignoring the illegal fire ring). We were getting a bit hungry, so once we reached the old crash site, we took our snack break. With a bit of food in our stomachs, we began the steep, but thankfully relatively short, climb to the summit. Ted and I crested the climb and kept an eye down the trail for Maegan to make her way up. Once we had regrouped and had a moment to recover, we hiked the last bit to the summit.
Two sets of hikers were there enjoying some really clear views. We took a few photos and then found a spot to enjoy some well-earned snacks and a rest. Since we knew that we had 5 miles back to the car and the day was warming, we began our descent. We carefully picked our way down the steep section, hoping not to slip (narrator: someone did slip). Back on the more gentle portion of the trail, we began working our way back to the car. Ted and I discussed our lunch options. Maegan had to get back home so she let us hash out our post-hike plan. I tossed out the question, “What is an urban hike in San Diego?” This provided a good debate on the topic. Feel free to offer your opinion in the comments. Unfortunately, I made a couple of missteps and rolled my right foot. Enough to feel it, but nothing to create an issue. I figured it would be tender later (narrator: he was right).
Soon the din of traffic from the highway started to fill our ears, signaling that we were almost done. My back had done pretty well, so that in itself was a victory for me. Ted and Meagan got to cross off a new peak and I finished my 2023 Six Pack of Peaks Challenge. After tossing our gear in our cars and putting on a clean shirt and comfy shoes, we drove over to the Candy Store to pick up a few treats and a cold drink. Maegan said her goodbyes and headed back to San Diego. We followed soon after. I convinced Ted we should stop in Pala Mesa, and we both got lunch from the Rib Shack. There was a mix-up with my order, and I accidentally got someone else’s (right sides, they got tri-tip and brisket). I didn’t notice that until I dug in. Oops! But damn, both of the meats were outstanding! Still, this was a slightly later-than-planned lunch. It actually worked in my favor as I was attending an event in the evening and that dinner was not scheduled until 8 pm. My tracker did not restart once we left the summit, so Ted’s tracker logged us in at 9.8 at the car. Being so close to 10, we did a few laps in the parking lot. Our moving time was 4:49 with 2,150 feet of gain. I am hoping the next time I climb this peak it will be an overnight.
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.