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.

Sweetwater Summit Regional Park

Recently, the County of San Diego’s Parks and Recreation department created a Tour Our Trails challenge. They even printed “passport” books to log your hikes. Since I have been focused on two other challenges (San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peaks and the 2020-2021 Coast to Crest Challenge), I had not started on these hikes. The 15 hikes are grouped into three categories; easy, moderate, and hard. I needed to pick up something from a fellow hiker who lives in the South Bay, so I decided to do a quick stroll through part of the Sweetwater Summit Regional Park. 

Each hike has a designated photo opp, and for this hike it was Morrison Pond. I pulled into the parking lot and grabbed my gear. Just then, four horseback riders were just returning from their ride. I set off along the trail to explore the park a bit before viewing the pond. I easily crossed the trickle of water that is the Sweetwater river and headed east for a while. Once I reached the junction with another trail, I headed back toward the pond. 

Along the way, I passed a couple of families enjoying the trails. This is a great place to bring your little ones, as the trail is nice and flat. I circled around the pond, enjoying the view for a bit. I then returned to the car and finished my errand. I am looking forward to the other 14 hikes, especially the ones I have never done.