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.

Boden Canyon

Decided to complete the 2020-2021 Coast to Crest Challenge today. The final hike I needed to do was  a flat-ish 6.6 mile hike that starts in the Pamo Valley, then follows the San Dieguito River through Boden Canyon. I pulled into the same parking lot that you would use if hiking Pamo Valley, just before 9am, but instead of heading north, I set off to the west. 

I knew this hike would be another good test of my knee, as it had some minor elevation gains, but also a nice amount of distance as well. The hike began with a gentle and short climb before leveling out for a while. I cruised along the wide trail as it weaved its way along the south side of the canyon. I was surprised at the beauty along much of this trail. Boden Canyon is certainly a hidden gem of a hike. My only regret was not doing it when the river might be flowing to add to the experience.

After about 3.3 miles, I reached the junction with the Orosco Truck Trail and the start of Clevenger Canyon. This was the designated “selfie spot”. The trail continued westward for a short distance before reaching Highway 78. In fact, there was a small trailhead there as well.  I took my photo and began retracing my route. I encountered several groups of hikers and mountain bikers as I made my way back to the trailhead. When I got back to the car, the lot was mostly full. I have really enjoyed this year’s Coast to Crest Challenge. 

Santa Ysabel Loop

As America awaited the results of the election, I needed to take a break and get in a hike. With our first bit of winter weather due for the weekend, I opted to do one early Friday morning. I decided to hike one of my two remaining Coast to Crest Challenge hikes. I opted to hike the Santa Ysabel Loop on the Santa Ysabel East Preserve. This was going to be a 4.2-mile lollipop hike. As a bonus, I could pick up breakfast afterward at Farmhouse 78.

When I pulled up to the trailhead, two cars were already parked. While the skies had some clouds scattered about, the temperatures were perfect. I had hiked some of this preserve during the last Coast to Crest Challenge, and this section had some trails I would pass en route to other adventures.

The trail starts gently before making its way up the hill to the junction. Some beautiful signs pointed the trail route. As I worked my way up, one of the other hikers passed me, headed back down.

Later, I encountered a second set of hikers. We chatted a bit as they were also working on the Challenge. I gave them my readout of the three I had done. They then set off, planning to grab some sandwiches from Dudley’s Bakery for their breakfast.

The trail was lovely, nice and wide, with some very beautiful scenery. I reached the selfie spot next to a nice set of picnic tables. I can see returning for a stroll with some friends to enjoy this hike.

With the photo taken, I cruised back down the trail, passing a couple more hikers along the way. Once back at the car, I tossed my gear in and made the short drive to the restaurant. I ordered some biscuits and gravy to go, as I needed to join in some work calls. With that, I only have to hike Boden Canyon to complete this year’s C2C.

North Lake Hodges

Did the North Lake Hodges trail this morning. This was my 3rd hike of this year’s Coast to Crest Challenge. Lovely hike, but you do have to keep an ear out for mountain bikers on this one. When I pulled into the staging area, there were three cars already parked there. The sun had not risen yet as I headed off down the trail. My route would basically follow Lake Hodges shore to the dam then, onto the Rattlesnake view spot. This selfie spot was used previously, so I knew exactly where I was headed.

The air was again nice and cool, making for some enjoyable hiking weather. I quickly found myself near the dam and the one tiny bit of elevation gain for this hike. I could see from the tracks on the ground that this trail is a favorite with mountain bikers, as it was mostly tire threads in the dirt. I think I encountered about 8 or so along the way, even this early.

I got the selfie spot and snapped a few photos. I opted not to interact with the telescope this time. Life in a pandemic…

While returning to the car, a section of the hike is on the service road to the dam. Thinking about a design problem, I missed my turn back onto the trail. I opted to stay on the road, as I knew it did intersect with the trail in a bit. I found a joining trail after a bit and got back on to the dirt trail and off the gravel road. Back at the parking lot, it had now almost completely filled up. Glad I hit it early 

San Pasqual Valley

Today’s hike was through a section of San Pasqual Valley up to Raptor Ridge and back. This would be my second hike of the 2020-2021 Coast to Crest Challenge. I again arrived at the trailhead just before sunrise to beat the predicted heat.

The trail headed west along the south side of San Pasqual Valley. The air was nice and crisp as I cruised along, as the sun had not yet risen over the hills behind me. After about 1.5 miles I reached the base of the hill and began working my way up. A runner passed me, surrounded by her four dogs.

The sun began to spread its rays across the valley and the surrounding hills, making for some lovely views. I reached the “selfie spot” and took my photo. I rested for on the picnic bench for a few minutes before heading back down. As I worked my way back to the car, I encountered two more folks using the trail.

Lusardi Creek

Decided to start this year’s Coast to Crest Challenge with the hike that is almost behind my house, the Lusardi Creek Trail. I have done this trail several times, but this time I decided to use the challenge’s start and finish spot off Camino Del Sur. I typically start from the Black Mountain Sports Park when hiking this trail. I hit the trail just before sunrise, critical since we are having yet another heatwave. I carefully crossed the flowing creek and headed east into the rising sun.

As I approached where I would leave the canyon, I pulled up the annotated AllTrails map. It had me ascending via the Lusardi Creek Trail. I could see a slightly less used trail branching off and I started down it, but after about 20 yards or so, it began to fade away. I returned to the junction and decided I must have misread my map. So, I headed along the other fork. After I felt I had traveled enough for any GPS issues, I rechecked my position, and I was not on the route that AllTrails was showing. I looked at the route, saw the terrain and topo lines, and ventured upward.

Working my way carefully upward, I am thinking I must have done something wrong. I knew I did not have far to go and I am comfortable traveling cross-country. I located the other trail and cruised down it to the selfie spot. Part of me thought about just walking the quarter mile back home and getting the car later, but I really wanted to see if I could find that missing trail from this side.

I worked my way back along the main trail, looking for any signs of a trail. Nope, there was nothing to be found, so I followed the service road I normally use back down into the canyon and eventually back to the car.

Once I was home, I started looking further into this. I knew something was amiss with the route. I pulled up the track again on my phone and on my computer. They were showing two different routes. Crazy! In chatting with Susie, who did it the day before, we discovered she also had AllTrails display the route up Lusardi Creek Trail. Never fear, it seems the issue has been corrected, but it is a good tale of doing your research before hitting the trails.

Lake Hodges Overlook

Distance: 6.6 miles
Date: February 29, 2020

Since my hiking partner backed out of our planned hike up Volcan Benchmark, I decided to stay in town and complete the 2019-2020 Coast to Crest Challenge. My final hike was to be 6+ miles out to the Lake Hodges Overlook.

The trail begins with a good steep climb for the first mile and a quarter. One of the rewards of the climb was a nice vista of the peaks to the north and east. In fact, snow-capped San G was even visible in the distance.

As I continued my climb, I could see the “Way-Up Trail” across the ravine. Just past the summit, I turned north and worked my way up and down toward the overlook.

The shimmering waters of the Olivenhain reservoir stood to the west of me.

Eventually, I reached the overlook and took my required selfie. A small peak stood just a bit further to the south, so I had to go climb it. This peak is the official Lake Hodges overlook.

In fact, it had a small survey marker and a post on the summit! I snapped a few more photos and headed back. With that, my C2C Challenge was done! Can’t wait until the next one!

Santa Ysabel West Preserve

Distance: 5.8 miles
Date: February 8, 2020

Besides working on completing the Sierra Club San Diego 100 peaks list, I am also working on completing the San Dieguito’s River Foundations’ Coast to Crest Challenge. I knocked off three of the five hikes around New Years’. With my usual peak-bagging partners occupied, I decided to go do one of the remaining hikes, Santa Ysabel West Preserve.

Dave Myron and I pulled into the empty parking lot just before 8 am. Thankfully, the gate was already open. We geared up and headed off. The entire trail is about 5.5 long and follows a lollipop pattern. This challenge requires a selfie at a particular spot along the trail, in this case near the top of the lollipop.

After a short flat section, the trail makes its first small climb. The trail then continues to work its way up and down the hills. We carefully crossed a nicely flowing stream before the final climb to the selfie spot. The grazing cows barely gave us notice as we passed by. The views were quite nice with Volcan Mountain rising to the east, and Cuyamaca to the southeast.

Upon our return, we meet a couple of groups of hikers, also enjoying the trail. Soon we were back at the car and headed back into town. I had hoped to get the final hike in on Sunday, but rain showers had other plans.

Pamo Valley Trail

Distance: 6.35 miles
Date: January 3, 2020

I decided to hike the Pamo Valley section of the Coast to Crest Trail which is just north of Ramona. I pulled into the empty Orosco Ridge Trailhead at about 7 am. It was brisk and the sun had not risen above the hills yet. I had seen this trail before, as it follows the road that is used to access Big Black Mountain. Slipping on a second layer, I headed north.

The well-marked trail works its way along the valley, occasionally crossing the road from time to time. Since this is an active cattle grazing area, sections are managed via gates. I would also cross a few bridges along the way.

Like all the hikes on the Coast to Crest Challenge, there is a designated selfie spot. For Pamo Valley it is near the end of the trail. It wasn’t until near this spot did I finally hear some cows mooing in the distance. 

I decided to keep going until I reached the Forest Road for Big Black Mountain before turning back. I thought about my dear friend Mark Kerbel as the miles ticked off, for today was his birthday. He would have enjoyed this one.

As I returned to the parking lot, a few more cars had arrived. I tossed my gear in and headed home. Just two more hikes and my third Coast to Crest Challenge will be complete.

North Shore Lake Hodges

Distance: 3.7 miles
Date: January 2, 2020

I decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and go complete another one of the hikes on the Coast to Crest Challenge, this time the hike along the north shore of Lake Hodges. This hike was a fast solo hike as the wife was feeling the effects of being woken up by a call at 4 am from Israel regarding my son’s birthday present.

The trail was filled with a few families enjoying their time off, along with the occasional group of mountain bikers whizzing by. Unlike the Highland Valley Trail, this one is nice and wide.

It felt odd not to make the right hand turn to begin the trail up to the summit of Bernardo Mountain, but the designated selfie spot was straight along the main trail. 

Grabbing the required photo, I headed back to the car, passing more hikers and bikers along the way. All in all, a fun 3.7 miles, and my second hike completed for this challenge.