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.
I decided to go hike up Volcan Benchmark again now that some of the restrictions have eased. Figured an early morning hike would also reduce the number of people I might encounter on the hike. I pulled off the road next to the trailhead to the Volcan Wilderness Preserve. It was a bit brisk, so I had my warmer gear with me as I set off. Making my way up the familiar trail, my knee was feeling just a bit off. I have been having issues with it for a while. While I had hoped to be at or near the summit for sunrise, my pace wasn’t going to allow that.
As I climbed up the trail, the sound of birds chirping filled the air. Reaching the last section along the ridge, a pair of coyotes bounded ahead of me. Shortly thereafter, they began howling. I tried to record it but they stopped before I could capture it.
Once I reached the summit, I set out to find all three marks. I knew two were under the trees next to the Air Beacon. But where was the main one? The directions on the reference marks proved unhelpful. Peakbagger ‘s map did not seem to offer any more help.
I headed back onto the trail and decided to make the full loop. It was then I spotted the cement post. From an earlier photo I had seen, I knew there was a mark inside!
It certainly is not aligned with the two reference marks, but I will take it. I needed to be back in San Diego so my wife could use the car, so I began heading back down. Thankfully, the knee stayed about the same. Usually descents made it hurt more. As I came to the junction with the Five Oaks Trail, I decided to take it. I have never done it before. The first time I hiked Volcan, it was closed due to bees. The second time, I was more interested in comparing time with the first summit.
This trail is a single track that leads you through some beautiful scenery. It was here I encountered my first set of hikers. I stood off to the side with my buff raised, as they passed quickly. It was nice to see them don their masks. A bit later, I encountered my second group, three women, and their dogs. They stopped and I quickly passed by. Again, all three were wearing masks. The Five Oaks Trail reconnects about 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead. Here I had my third encounter, this time with a family of four making their way up. Again, all had masks. I gave them a heads up on the traffic I had seen.
As I was making my way down the last grade, three older hikers were just starting their hike. Sadly, the mask streak was broken. Two were walking across from one another, and as I stood off to the side, I began to wonder if the one nearer to me would move away. He didn’t. I was disappointed, as they looked like folks who hike regularly.
Upon reaching the ornate trailhead, a sheriff was beginning to hike up. I said a cheerful hello as I stepped away to allow him to pass.
Back at the car, I tossed my gear in, noting the request to park an extra distance away from each car was ignored. But, with that, my second peak of this year’s Six-Pack of Peaks was completed.
Peak Name: Volcan Mountain Distance: 5 miles Date: August 3, 2019 Summit: 5,719 feet
Decided since we have a bit of a heatwave, a shorter hike was in order, so I opted for Volcan Mountain out near Julian. Funny the last time I did this hike was also during a heatwave.
As I set out, a group of Cal Fire firefighters also set out for some training. I quickly made my way to the summit. However, the bugs were out even this early, so I grabbed my bug net and tossed it on.
Once I reached the summit, I enjoyed my breakfast on the picnic table with a nice view to the west. Afterward, I went hunting for the benchmark. I found the two reference marks, but not the true mark. It might have been the metal pole?
I was soon joined by a fellow hiker and his dog. We chatted while his dog took a short breather. Once his companion was ready, we set off back down the mountain. As we made our way, we meet several more folks heading up.
It was a nice hike for my 50th peak in my #100PeakChallenge!
Peak Name: Volcan Mountain Distance: 5 miles Date: July 8, 2017 Summit: 5,719 feet
The San Diego River Park had scheduled a hike for later in the morning that I had signed up for, but I saw the forecast and decided to go earlier and beat the heat. The climb to the summit was nice, except for the shady parts. That is when the gnats would become bothersome under the incense cedar.
Toward the summit, the ruins of the cabin still stood, and I learned that this was a potential site for the observatory (Palomar won).
Only saw three other hikers along the entire trek. I did encounter a dog along the trail. Finally got close enough to grab its collar and call the owner. Turns out he wanders the trail and region all the time. When I returned to my car, the scheduled hike was getting organized. One of the volunteers was getting ready to cart up some water partway up the trail. I chatted a bit and gave them a current trail summary.