Goat Peak

With Ted needing to be home by noon-ish and the predicted warm temperatures, we settled on hiking Goat Peak as our adventure. I have done this one twice already, but Ted had never done it. We parked at the trailhead and gathered our gear. Since this hike was about 3 miles round trip, we both went lighter on our gear, with Ted wearing one of his running vests, while I opted for my new Osprey Waist pack. My upper back has been bothering me since my overnight trip to San Jacinto, so not having a pack on my back was a good thing. The trail starts off nice and mellow, crisscrossing the currently dry Sycamore Creek several times before beginning to make a steep climb toward the summit.

As we neared the start of this section, we heard some voices ahead of us. I was a bit surprised, as this peak is a little off the beaten path. It turns out it was a group of about 10 women hiking to celebrate one of their birthdays! They kindly let us motor past.

Soon we found ourselves at “The Wall”, and scaled it with no issue. Finally, the summit came into view, and shortly thereafter we were scrambling to its summit. There is no benchmark here, but there was a wooden sign and register box. We relaxed here a bit, and soon the women reached the summit as well. After chatting a bit, Ted and I began our careful descent. At one point I mentioned to Ted “Aren’t you glad you have trekking poles?” To which he answered with a resounding, “yes”.  Soon we were back on the mellow section and cruising back toward the car. The entire hike was 2.8 miles with 1,105 feet gain and in 2:19.


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. 

Pamo Valley

I knew when I hiked this trail with the family that it was a gamble, as it might be included in the 2023-2024 Coast to Crest Challenge. Well, I lost that bet, and this trail is one of the five hikes. I really didn’t mind hiking it again, as it is a very pleasant stroll along the valley. Given how easy the trail is, I had hoped one of my friends could join us, but he had prior commitments, so it was just Ted and I. We pulled into the parking lot, and there were about 5 or 6 cars parked. The skies were overcast again, thankfully not due to an incoming tropical storm, but just some “standard” monsoonal stuff. We grabbed our gear and headed out northward along the trail.

When I did this hike about a month or so ago, portions of the trail were overgrown, but now the grasses near the trail had all been cut. We cruised along the trail at a nice pace. I spent part of the time outlining my upcoming camping and hiking trip to the central coast. Along the way, a trail runner passed us, with a dog following behind. The dog stopped to say hello to us, and we learned that the dog did not belong to the runner and that apparently lived at one of the ranches in the valley. The dog trotted back toward the runner and we continued on. The trail ends at the intersection with the road that goes up “Big” Black Mountain. We had a quick snack, and I took my trip photo at the nearby sign.

We began retracing our route, passing a hiker who was headed up Big Black Mountain for some training for the Grand Canyon. We wished him well and to be careful on the road. A bit later, we spotted the dog again. He had trotted back to us, and for the next couple of miles, mostly hung out with us. He did run ahead and play in the water for a bit at one point. Turns out, he is a fixture on the trail. Larry Edmonds sent me a photo of the dog from a few years ago. He has no collar, so we can’t tell you his name. Soon we reached the parking lot and my final Coast to Crest Challenge was complete. I am thinking of stringing all five together in a point-to-point fashion and doing them in one day, but that is for another time. One other thing to note is I swapped out my pack. I picked up an Osprey Talon 6 for these lighter hikes. My regular day pack just seemed like overkill. The pack worked well, although I will need to adapt to using bottles instead of a bladder. The hike was a pleasant 6.3 miles that we covered in 2:15, with just about 470 feet of gain.


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. 

Santa Ysabel Lower Truck Trail

The hike along the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail was back on this year’s list of hikes for the Coast to Crest challenge. I really enjoyed doing it last time, so I was looking forward to hiking it again. Since the hike is a fairly mild one, I invited my friend Jeremy to join Ted and me on this adventure. We pulled into the parking lot and got our gear together. The skies were slightly overcast from the incoming Hurricane Hillary as we set off.

We cruised along the trail, catching up about our recent college graduates, various trips we have taken, and life. Soon we reached the junction with Orasco Guejito Truck Trail and took a short break. I warned Jeremy that our return would be a touch harder, as you don’t directly feel it, but you are following the San Dieguito River, and water only flows one way…

Along our way back we encountered some cyclocross riders trying to get some outside time in before the rains and winds hit. When we got back to the car, two horse trailers had arrived. Since we did not encounter them, I assume they were off enjoying the Pamo Valley trail. We drove back home and enjoyed a well-earned lunch at Mi Ranchito in PQ. Three hikes down, two to go! The stats for the hike were 6.7 miles with 600 feet of gain in 2:44.


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. 

Lake Hodges (via Sikes Adobe)

My second hike for this year’s Coast to Challenge was to hike from the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead to the Bernardo Mountain turn-off. I actually had this as one of my rehab hikes, as I had never done the section from the Adobe to where the trail connects with the bridge. I parked in the small lot across from the Adobe and set off on the paved trail. This section parallels the I-15, so be prepared to listen to the rush of the traffic. The trail ducks under the freeway. As I looked at the dry lake bed, I recalled sitting in my kayak at this same spot while calling my mom to wish her a happy birthday…

The trail now leaves the I-15 behind and links up to the pedestrian bridge. This is a trail I have hiked many times, so I just cruised along. A few runners passed by, along with a mountain biker or two. The trail is closed after sunset, as it is a designated wildlife corridor. I crossed the wooden bridge, which appears to have suffered some damage. At the junction with the trail that would lead to the summit of Bernardo Mountain, I took my required photos and retraced my route. I thought the hike was going to clock in about 4 miles, but my tracker logged it at 3.6 miles. 


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. 

Wild Horse Trail

I wanted something with some difficulty as the last hike before my final PT appointment. Between the heat and some afternoon commitments, I did not have a lot of options for this hike. I settled on doing the Wild Horse trail out at Iron Mountain.  We pulled into the parking lot at about 6:30, finding plenty of parking. The forecasted temperatures probably kept some folks home (or they were at ComicCon). We took the required photos of the trailhead sign and the tree tunnel and set off. The Wild Horse trail parallels the main trail, just one ravine to the north. 

After passing a small pond, our route headed east and began its climb to the ridge line. The sun was just starting to crest over the hills as we made our way up. Some of the trails were closed due to raptor breeding. At the ridge line, we decided to make the short side trip to the top of the Ramona Overlook. This is one of the 12 peaks that make up the Iron Mountain Preserve. After grabbing our photos, we set off toward the junction with the main trail toward Iron Mountain.

Since the trail is on the east side, we could feel the sun beating down on us. Once at the side, I debated if I wanted to try for the summit or not. Heat is not my friend, so I was uncertain, but opted to try, while being mindful of how I felt.

We worked our way up toward the summit and the trail was much more populated than our initial route. As we neared the Little Iron Mountain, I knew that the full summit was not in the cards. Maybe if we started an hour earlier or took the direct route it would have been. We decided to weave our way through the brush and scramble up some rocks to the summit of Little Iron Mountain. I enjoyed some of my orange and grabbed a few photos, but the heat kept assaulting me, so it was time to make our descent. I plodded back down the trail, taking a couple of breaks in the shade just to be safe. I was amazed at the number of folks ascending in the heat and with so little water. I saw one couple with an Iced Starbucks for each of them and nothing else. Adding to that, they had a dog with them! Ted and I also looked quizzically at one hiker ascending in a jacket!

I pushed on down the mountain, bummed that I did not summit again, but knowing I made the smart call to turn back. While my foot is doing pretty well, my fitness level is not where it was pre-injury. That is going to just have to come with time and effort. Back at the car, the temperature read 91 F in the parking lot. Yikes, that was toasty for 10 am! All told it was a good hard hike, I got a couple of summits in, and it was a friendly reminder that I am still rebuilding…


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. 

Woodson Mountain (Via Fry-Koegel)

A sliver of a moon hung in the eastern sky as I pulled to the side of the road. San Diego was under an extreme heat warning, so I needed to have a very early start to attempt to beat it. I wanted to try the Fry-Koegel trail for this attempt up the summit, having done the other two routes to the summit. If you ever drive along the 67 and see a few cars near the intersection with Archie Moore Road, that is where you should park if you want to use the Fry-Koegel trail. Otherwise, continue on a short bit to park with everyone else who will summit via the Service Road. I pulled over just past the guard rail and parked. As expected, there was no one here. In fact, I only saw two cars near the other trailhead. I gathered my gear, turned my headlamp on, and set off. Besides hoping to reach the summit, my other goal was to keep my pace and exertion level at a reasonable level. The trail initially skirts past a collection of backyards. I would occasionally look back to view the changing sky as we drew closer to sunrise. There was an occasional hoot from an owl to break up the silence.

The trail kept climbing up the north side of the mountain until I reached a fork in the trail. To my left was the old trail, and to my right the new route. Since either route would be new to me, I opted for the old trail. About 1/2 mile later the trail linked up with the trail you would use coming from Lake Poway. The sun had almost risen over the mountains as I now headed eastward and I grabbed a few photos of the first light spilling across the landscape.

The main draw for this hike is the Potato Chip, a piece of granite hanging free that folks love to climb upon. In contrast to the almost Disneyland-like lines which are frequent, I was alone. I snapped a few photos but skipped going onto it. The summit was still a bit further, so I strolled on. I went over to the true summit, just to take a look. I certainly wasn’t planning on scrambling up that summit block either. I pushed the rubber tips onto my trekking poles before I headed down the paved service road.

I was now starting to see folks making their way up. The temperatures were already climbing, so I was glad to be heading back down. The steepness of the road did bother my foot a bit, but it was manageable. The real test will be later today and how it feels then.

I tossed my gear into the car and carefully pulled on the 67 and headed home. When I started the hike, the car said it was 64°, as I sped away, it was now 82°! The entire hike was 5.4 miles in 2:35 and had 1,475 feet of gain. 


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. 

Ramona Grasslands

After summiting Volcan Mountain yesterday, I knew I should keep my trail time to something more on the mild side, and Ramona Grasslands seemed to fit the bill nicely. I decided to try this hike with the dog.

The marine layer had already burned off, but a good breeze kept the temperatures nice and comfortable. Rocky was not on his best behavior, so a lot of corrections were needed as we strolled down the wide trail. We passed a few others out enjoying the area but had a lot of the preserve to ourselves.

I opted to do the longer loop, stopping at the picnic benches for a quick break in the shade and some water for Rocky. A few flowers still dotted the sides of the trail.

Once back at the trailhead, a ranger had set up a display about various wildlife. Turned out he was the same ranger from Barnett Ranch and he remembered me. We chatted some before I bid farewell. A nice Sunday stroll of about 2.75 miles in 1:02.


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. 

Sycamore Canyon – Martha’s Grove Trail

After completing my longest hike to date, I decided to keep today’s hike a bit more on the low-key side. Since I was also craving a good croissant, something out near O’Brien’s Bakery would meet both requirements. I opted to hike Martha’s Grove Trail in Sycamore Canyon. They made the trail one way a few years back, so when I was last out there I wasn’t able to do it. 

I also thought this would be a good hike to bring my dog, Rocky, along. The trail is immediately to the left past the parking lot. We meandered along the trail, taking in the views as we worked our way toward Martha’s Grove. Signs cautioned us to be alert for toads on the trail. In fact, a good portion of the trail past the grove had fencing to help contain them. However, I never saw any.

We reached the junction near the Goodan Ranch, but I could tell Rocky wasn’t up for the additional mile, so we made our way back up the access road to our starting point. Rocky enjoyed his outing and I got some croissants for myself on the way home.


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. 

Frank’s Peak & Mt. Whitney

With the long holiday weekend ahead of me, I decided to try to test my foot a bit more. In case I did overreach, I had some time to let it recover. I reached out to Rick and Andrea Sarpolus to see if they might be up for something. We had chatted a few times online, sharing trail beta, but had never hiked together in real life. Rick suggested we try the hike up Frank’s Peak and then over to Mt. Whitney. I had never done these, so I had to do some research to see if it was within my current capabilities. It was a little more gain than I wanted, but I knew that if after the first peak I needed to bail, I could.

We met at Ridgeline Park, and low clouds still hung in the air, obscuring the peaks to our south. We introduced ourselves and quickly set off. The route took us along a semi-private road before turning onto an abandoned dirt road. We chatted away, swapping stories and plans for upcoming adventures.

We reached the saddle between the two peaks and opted to do Frank’s Peak first. The clouds were beginning to burn off. We found ourselves at the summit, and an American flag hung from a pole with a register box placed beside it. We signed in and grabbed a few photos. Mt. Whitney stood just to the east of us. I commented that was what Sawtooth was like from atop Red Top. The big difference was we will be at its summit in about 20 minutes and it took us over 3 hours for Sawtooth.

Our route continued along an old road until it reached a fence. We passed to the side and made a U-turn onto the paved road that goes to the summit. A very nice home was just on the other side. Their view must be something amazing. The day was warming and asphalt was certainly not helping, but soon we were at the summit. This peak has a large tower and support equipment, which gave us some nice shade while we had a short break and a snack.

After snapping a few photos, we headed back down. The foot was still doing ok, so I was pleased with that. We reached the trailhead and the clouds had all disappeared, so I was able to get a photo of the peaks.

We chatted some more in the parking lot, enjoying a cold drink before heading our separate ways. They are tackling San Gorgonio tomorrow and I will wait and see how my foot does for the rest of the day. All told I logged 4.2 miles, just slightly longer than the hike yesterday. But the biggest difference was the 738 feet of elevation I did.


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. 

Torrey Pines – Broken Hill Overlook

Decided to try to test my recovering foot with a bit more distance, but more importantly, some actual elevation gain. So, with that in mind, I decided to tackle Torrey Pines this morning. Found parking along the coast, grabbed my gear, and set off. The skies were still overcast, but that was fine by me. I began my climb up the road with a bit of apprehension, but as I made my way up, the foot felt pretty good.  An occasional biker or runner would pass by, but for the most part, I had the route to myself. As I neared the top, I climbed the stairs to the official high point for the state park, moved off the dirt covering the benchmark, and happily took my photo. 

I continued cruising south toward Broken Hill Overlook. I realized in all my years living in San Diego, I don’t think I’ve ever explored this part of Torrey Pines. Shameful, I know. I turned off the road and onto a very well-groomed dirt trail. 

Several bridges crossed now dry vernal pools as I headed westward toward the overlook. After a couple of junctions, I soon came upon the overlook.

The view was stunning. The sandstone formations, the Pacific Ocean, and some wildflowers are still in bloom. Since it was a work day, I did not linger too long and retraced my steps. The next test for my foot was coming up—the descent. 

The park had begun to come alive with many more people enjoying the trails. I made my way back down to the coast, and the foot was feeling pretty good. However, the real test will be later in the day, and how my foot feels then. But for now, I was really happy with what I just did. All told I hiked 4.1 miles with 460 feet of gain. While I was not purposely looking at my time, it wasn’t too bad either. 


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.