Bayside Trail

My final hike of the day was going to be the Bayside Trail at Cabrillo National Monument. This hike had the added bonus of stopping off at Fathom Bistro for lunch and a beer. They are located on the Shelter Island pier and serve up some tasty hot dogs and have a wonderful tap list. I drove out to Point Loma, passing my old office along the way, showed my National Parks Annual Pass, and parked. I grabbed my gear and a jacket and set off toward the lighthouse. The trailhead to the Bayside trail is just before the lighthouse along the access road. The trail follows the cliffs down to a nice view of San Diego and Coronado with several information panels along the way. I reached the end of the trail, snapped a few photos, and began my ascent. Back at the access road, I stopped and chatted with one of the park volunteers for a while. Afterward, I thought to myself this is exactly what my dad would do all the time. With three hikes done for the day, some BBQ was in order for dinner.

Wooded Hill

Since I was the hiking consultant for my synagogue’s Stepping Into Israel hiking challenge, I figured I should hike some of my recommendations. One of the hikes I recommended was the Wooded Hill Nature Trail. I have hiked this 1.5-mile loop twice before but decided to do it once again. As I drove out to the trailhead, the marine layer was so thick that it was actually raining during my drive out. Just past Alpine, I broke through the clouds into a wonderfully sunny day. I pulled into the trailhead, grabbed my gear, and set off. Some remaining wildflowers still lined the edges of the trail. It was nice to hike this trail on fresh legs. The previous times I had done this hike was after a full day of hiking. As I made my way up the hill, I heard the sounds of a woodpecker. I was able to video of it pecking. After cresting the summit, I once again encountered mountain bikers on this trail. Wish they would enforce the rules sometimes. Once back at my car I headed back into town for my second hike of the day.

Goat Peak

One of my fellow admins on the San Diego Hiking Society was looking for a hike to keep training for an upcoming Cactus to Clouds attempt. I suggested Goat Peak might be a good choice, about 1,000 feet of gain over a mile and quarter, and probably free of hikers (Plus he had some time constraints). We met at the trailhead and set off. This was our first time hiking, so we spent a lot of time chatting as we made our way up toward the summit.

The trail was exactly as I remembered it and after about an hour we found ourselves on the rocky summit. We spent a good 30 minutes soaking in the views before heading back down. Some of the steeper sections took some care, as David did not bring his poles. This peak is one of a handful of summits from the 100 Peak Challenge that I have not done twice, so it was nice to cross it off the list. 

Palomar High Point

Having checked the Palomar Divide Road was listed as open, we decided to once again drive up toward Palomar High Point. Both Ted and I hiked this peak via Oak Grove last year and honestly did not feel the desire to do it again. So, as we had also done in the past, we drove to a much closer starting point.

The road was in ok shape, with a few potholes to watch out for, but nothing more. As we passed the Barker Valley Trailhead, there were four cars parked off to the side. We reached our usual stopping point, but neither of us felt like hiking from here, so we decided to drive on. We passed a few hikers making their way up, and one returning from the summit. Parking at the locked gate, we grabbed a bottle of water and walked up to the tower. A volunteer was working on replacing the toilet used by the tower staff. We chatted a bit, then set off to snap a few photos before heading back to the car and the hour drive back to the main road. 

Volcan Mountain

Having just finished the Six-Pack of Peaks Arizona Winter Challenge figured I should pick up working on my hometown set of peaks. Since Ted Markus had never done Volcan Mountain, it seemed like the perfect choice. When we got to the trailhead, there was only one car and a CalFire engine. 

Just after the entrance, the three CalFire firefighters were finishing their morning workout. After about a 1/2 mile, we hopped onto the 5 Oaks trail. While this adds a little extra distance to the hike, it was a nicer option.

Once back on the main road, we cruised up toward the summit, stopping to look at the ruins of where an early exploration of placing an observatory here (Spoiler, it went to Palomar). Upon reaching the summit we spent a little time exploring, learning about the directional beacon, finding a couple of reference marks, and heading out to one of the benches. A few poppies were scattered along the ground, but they had not open for the day yet.

We took a nice view to the east, naming off so many peaks we have climbed. Up to this point, we have had the mountain to ourselves. But we were soon joined by other hikers out enjoying the trail. We headed back down along the main road, passing more folks, many with their dogs. This peak was a nice change of pace for both of us. Since it was still early we decided to drive up Palomar Divide Road and cross another peak off this year’s San Diego Challenge, Palomar High Point.

Woodson on a weekday

Since I have a hiking trip coming up in Arizona, I wanted to get a few harder miles in and see how my right knee felt. When descending San Ysidro East Peak, it had become painful. I figured Woodson Mountain would be a good candidate for this. I debated between taking the Fry-Kogel route or the Lake Poway Route. I opted to take the Lake Poway route, just so I could compare my time from my last summit. The parking lot was fuller than I expected, but I could see some families scattered about, and several folks trying their luck fishing.

I cruised up the trail, a few hikers passed me returning from their summits. The knees were doing fine on the ascent. I took a short break just past where the Fry-Kogel trail joins the main trail. That is still one thing I need to be mindful of when hiking solo, I tend to not take proper breaks.

As I neared the Potato Chip, there were just a few people milling around. I thought about climbing out, but did not feel the need, so I continued to the summit. I also decided to skip scrambling up the actual summit block. After a short rest for a quick snack, I headed back down. 

Making my way down, I passed a few groups heading up. The parking lot closes at 7pm, so I hope they pay attention to the time. My left knee did grumble a bit on descent, but nothing unusual and thankfully the right knee seemed fine. After a round trip time of 3:30 over 7.3 miles, I was back at the car. Got a light hike planned out in Anza-Borrego on Sunday, then off to Arizona to try to summit some of their Six Pack of Peaks,

El Cajon

I needed a good hard hike to keep training for upcoming my Red Top/Sawtooth attempt. I considered some of the harder desert hikes as an option, but Ted needs most of those peaks and he was going to be unavailable on Sunday. I was able to convince my friend Dave to tag along for some company. Initially, I wanted to hike Agua Tibia again, but Dave’s time constraints were tighter than mine, so that was not an option. Since I signed up for the San Diego Edition of the Six-Pack of Peaks and am doing the Tour Our Trails challenge as well, I figured why not just do “The Hardest Hike in San Diego™”, aka El Cajon mountain.

We wanted an early start as we both wanted to be home to watch the game. As we drove out to the trailhead, I snapped a photo of the morning sky for Ted, one of his favorite parts of our adventures. The parking lot was not open yet, and a modest amount of cars lined the road. We quickly geared up and set off. The fruit stand was open and looked tempting.

We shed our jackets after about a mile. I was all set to stuff into the sleeping bag compartment in my pack, only to discover I never took out the windbreaker from last weekend. So into the main part of the pack it went. The miles ticked off fairly well as we made our way up and down the trail. A few folks passed us returning to the car from probably being at the summit for sunrise.

Stopping for a quick snack just before the old jeep, we hear the sounds of someone sharing their music. This behavior annoys me to no end. I came out here to enjoy nature, not your favorite jam. We let them pass, along with their unleashed dog, then waited a bit before resuming. Finally the summit came into view and we began the last bit.

Once at the summit, there were a few people scattered about. I found a spot off the side and enjoyed my PB&J and a few orange slices, while Dave had to take care of some work-related issues. The summit sign was no longer in the ground, but it was still attached to the pole. I snapped a few photos and was ready to head out. Since folks were hanging out where the marks are located, I skipped them this time.

As we headed back down, we encountered more folks making their way up. Also the day was warming up a touch. I had to think some of the folks are not going to like their hike back to the car. El Cajon is known as a hike that is “uphill, both ways”. I did regret not wearing a lighter shirt and pants, as I was starting to feel a tad warm. We plodded our way back to the car without any real issue. All told our active hiking time was 6:15, not too bad. I think if we had stayed longer at the summit, and I had some more recovery time before setting off our time could have been under 6 hours.

Dos Sombreros

With the local trails needing to dry out from the recent storm, and no way was I going anywhere near the snow, I headed back out to the desert. Some of this year’s 100 Peak Challengers were attempting to summit both Sombrero and False Sombrero peaks via what I think should be called the “Bennett Traverse”. The ladies kindly let me tag along for what was going to be a hard but fun day in Anza-Borrego. 

Sombrero under the full moon

As I neared our rendezvous at Mountain Palms Campground, the sun was still casting its glow on the mountains, the snow stood stark across the Lagunas, and the moon shone above it. This planned route was going to require a car shuttle. We parked two cars at the base of False Sombrero, then piled into the third car to drive over to the trailhead for Sombrero. Both Susie and I had done these peaks before as single ascents, but our friend Matt Bennett had explored a route that linked them together. Given the difficulty of both of these peaks, we were all up for this alternative route. 

The five of us headed along the faint trail and began our climb. Much of the elevation and effort was going to be the ascent of Sombrero. In just 1.4 miles, we would gain some 1,880 feet. This was one of the few hikes in the challenge I had not done a second time. I always find it interesting to compare my ascents and see where I have grown as a hiker.

The use trail did a pretty nice job getting us up to the plateau and I was feeling good. One of the reasons I wanted to do this hike was to see how my knee responded to some effort. With the use trail gone, we began working our way up the middle section of the peak. When I did this before I tackled it fairly straight on, while this time we took a more north east angle. I think we made a good choice. Finally, Sombrero came into view. As an added bonus, we found the metal pole and chain! Still have no idea why it is here.

We stayed more on the right side of the peak as we made our final push up. We started to find tiny patches of snow tucked in the shade. Just before we reached the summit, we ran into a small obstacle, so we split up and scouted alternative routes. In a short time, we each bypassed it and were atop the peak.

After a nice break and photos, we began to survey the route we would take over to False Sombrero, which lay to the northeast of us. We could see the basic path we would take, for the most part, so down we went.

We followed a ducked route that is used if you do this peak from the McCain Valley route. That is another route I hope to try one day. Once at the base, we passed a faded sign denoting this was indeed Sombrero Peak. We heard the din of some motorcycles riding the trails, but that was only for a short time. 

Our route took us across the ridge, for the most part with little issue. We tried to stay along the same contour line as we worked our way ever closer to False Sombrero. Staying beyond the actual ridge, we finally came to a spot where we could now see the Inner Pasture, Red Top, and Sawtooth rising up. I stared at them, wondering if I will be able to conquer them…

The final scramble up False Sombrero stood before us. We quickly made our way up and took a well-earned break. The views were incredible. The Salton Sea to our east, the snowy Lagunas to our west, and Sombrero off to the south. 

After a snack, some photos, and of course adding our names to the register, we headed down. The descent is in two parts–the very steep and loose sandy section, followed by a bouldery portion. Our descent would have us lose about 1,300 feet in just 8/10th of a mile. 

We cruised down the sandy section without incident, sans one cholla that tried to hitch a ride on me. While descending, I had flashbacks to when Derek and I did this peak. Later that day, Facebook reminded me that it was two years ago that we did it. After picking our way through the boulders we found ourselves back at our cars. The ladies piled into the Jeep and headed back to the Sombrero trailhead to get the other car, while I headed back solo. This route is the best way to do these peaks. Skipping the tough ascent for False Sombrero and not having to descend Sombrero is worth the couple extra miles via traverse.

Indian Hill

Since it was just past noon, we decided to add in one more peak. When we were out 4x4ing a few weeks back, Ted had done Piedras Grande, but we skipped Indian Hill. I drove out to the trailhead via Mortero Canyon.

As we grabbed our gear, the wind was starting to pick up. Once at the base of Indian Hill, we debated on our route. This time I decided to try it from the east side rather than from the north. The ascent was pretty straight forward and a bit easier.

We snapped a few photos, signed the register and returned via the same general route, as the wind continued to pick up.

Mine Peak

After summiting Red Hill, Ted and I then hopped back into the car and drove the few minutes to the Mine Peak trailhead. We picked up the use trail along the ridge, and soon found ourselves at the summit.

This peak has some great views of southern Anza-Borrego! Back at the mine buildings, we chatted for a bit with a couple out riding their motorcycles.