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I currently have two part-time jobs and dog-sitting duties for these next few summer months.  Most likely my weekends will be Monday and Tuesday, which is nice because I’ll be able to run errands and play outside when most people are at work.  Then again, school is out for the summer so I’ll probably be out with families as well.   National Trails Day is this Saturday the 7th, but I’ll be working.  Thus, I decided to celebrate on my day off.  I really had no idea where I was going to go hiking.  I thought about Santa Ysabel out near Julian, but when I saw the Iron Mountain trailhead parking lot practically empty I decided to that instead.  That lot is always full and has been a topic of debate in the local hiking community.  Do we build another lot?  Shuttles?  Anyway, I took advantage of the opportunity.  I quickly got my gear ready and headed out for the Ellie Lane Trail.  It was a beautiful day, not too hot like the weather we had last month.  Most people take the direct trail to the summit of Iron Mountain, but since I wanted to get extra miles in, I took the Ellie Lane Trail, which I really enjoy.  The views are amazing and the boulders and rock formations are spectacular.  Once I got to the summit, I took a break, snapped some photos and then headed back down to the trailhead.  My Saturday was turning out to be a good day.

View from the Ellie Lane Trail

View from the Ellie Lane Trail

Facebook Check-In?

Facebook Check-In?

End of hike

End of hike

 

Hi there. I know, it’s been a while. Yes, I’m still walking. Last few months have been stressful with job hunting, but hiking and being outdoors has continued to be therapeutic. I’ve also been doing a lot of volunteer work i.e., Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, and Just Call Us Volunteers. We help others to help ourselves, right? Today I did a 5K walk through the San Diego neighborhood of North Park to support the Uptown Faith Community Center. The event helped to raise funds for providing needed services to homeless and low income people. A few friends and I started the walk at 8 a.m. in Hillcrest. We walked through the neighborhood of North Park carrying signs and receiving honks from passersby. At the completion of the event we were greeted with medals and a hearty breakfast of ham, eggs, pancakes and coffee. This was a lot different from the Bikes and Beer event I did last weekend! Just doing my part in supporting the community.🙂

Fellow walkers

Fellow walkers

 

Keep smiling!  Half way there!

Keep smiling! Half way there!

 

We passed by San Diego's famous Chicken Pie Shop.  I have eaten there once.  A long time ago.

We passed by San Diego’s famous Chicken Pie Shop. I have eaten there once. A long time ago.

 

The flowers are blooming!  San Diego received much-needed rain this week.

The flowers are blooming! San Diego received much-needed rain this week.

 

A stop at Mission Brewery during the Bikes and Beer event on March 29, 2013.

A stop at Mission Brewery during the Bikes and Beer event on March 29, 2013.

Urban Hiker!

Sometimes I feel guilty for driving long distances to the country/mountains for a 10-mile hike.  Sure it’s nice to get away from the city and enjoy the peace and solitude of the mountains, but I need to be a conscientious oil-consumer as well.  So last week I managed not to drive my car for three days, which means I did a lot of urban walking.  On Saturday morning I woke up saying to myself, I’m going to do a 10-mile hike in the city today.  So I packed my day pack with the usual 10 essentials and hit the streets of San Diego using the smartphone app MapMyWalk to chart my course.  I live in North Park, which is about four miles away from downtown.  I walked to Whole Foods in Hillcrest to check out their 25% vitamin supplement sale.  Unfortunately, they were out of cod liver oil.  From there I walked down to Little Italy for the farmer’s market.  I’m currently on a budget so I managed not to buy fresh goat cheese for $15.  At that point I needed a cup of Joe and a bathroom break.  I stopped into a Marriott Hotel, used the restroom, and then sat outside with a coffee and oatmeal cookie I had brought from home.  So far so good.  After my short break I walked to the Convention Center and to get some elevation I walked up and down the stairs that they have outside.  I passed by Petco Park and then hooked onto Park Blvd., passing by Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo.  I then reached my quaint neighborhood of North Park and finally found myself back in my humble studio.  I did 11 miles that morning.  After much pondering, I decided that I would try not to drive my car 2 or 3 days out of the week.  If anything, I’ll be saving money for bigger backpacking trips in the summer. 🙂

Urban hike in San Diego

Urban hike in San Diego

I was up in northern California visiting my mom during the Christmas/New Year’s break.  She lives in the small town of Manchester on the Mendocino Coast.  Now this is truly northern California as Manchester is about a 3-hour drive north of San Francisco.  Whenever my uncle phones her he jokingly asks, “So, how is Oregon?”  The terrain is quite different from southern California.  The area is covered with dense forests of redwood trees rather than open desert terrain.  There are some hiking opportunities in Mendocino County, but after a while I think one would miss the challenging rugged trails of southern California.  In any event, one can manage to stay active by walking along the coast or along country roads, or go for a bike ride and brave the traffic on Highway 1.  During my two-week stay I explored the coastal Stornetta Public Lands, hiked in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and Mendocino Woodlands State Park, and of course I couldn’t pass up a tour of Anderson Valley Brewing Co.  If you plan on driving through this area, then I recommend visiting these places.

15-mile road hike on Philo-Greenwood Road

15-mile road hike on Philo-Greenwood Road

 

Stornetta Public Lands with view of Point Arena Lighthouse

Stornetta Public Lands with view of Point Arena Lighthouse

 

Hiking in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park with views of the town of Kenwood outside the city of Santa Rosa

Hiking in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park with views of the town of Kenwood outside the city of Santa Rosa

 

Tour of Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville, California

Tour of Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville, California

 

I felt very little when we were hiking in the Mendocino Woodlands State Park!

I felt very little when we were hiking in the Mendocino Woodlands State Park!

 

 

 

 

On the Sunday of Veteran’s Day weekend I took a couple of friends to Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve. For them, it was their first time. For me, it reaffirmed how much I love hiking here. Here are several photos of a fall hike in southern California.

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Tahquitz Tower

Being unemployed has its perks.  For one, I can go hiking during the middle of the week and not have to worry about the crowds.  A friend and I took advantage of my current situation and went to Idyllwild last Thursday to hike in the San Jacinto Wilderness.  The area had a fire a couple of months ago and I wanted to see how the trails were affected.  Currently one cannot hike to San Jacinto Peak via Humber Park.  I wondered how they blocked off the trails.  So we left San Diego on a faux-fallish morning and arrived to the ranger station around 9 a.m.  They were closed for the day so I couldn’t talk to anyone about the current trail conditions.  But I did notice on the door that if you go to San Jacinto Peak from Saddle Junction, you will be fined $5000!  Holy smokes!  Our plan was to do an out and back hike to Tahquitz Peak.  Once we had our gear together and layered up we hit the trail.  My friend had just returned from hiking in Peru so she was glad to be back on the trail.  It was windy and cold, but at least the sun was out and occasionally a sea of clouds would roll in, but then quickly roll back out.  I took lots of pictures as I’m fond of sea of clouds images.

View from Devil's Slide Trail

View from Devil’s Slide Trail

While on the trail I did the usual self-reflection and wondered about the many possibilities which lay ahead.  And then I got to Saddle Junction.  The different trails that were currently closed off had yellow caution tape around the trees.  I took lots of pictures for my hiking friends back in San Diego.

$5000 fine if you pass the tape!

$5000 fine if you pass the tape!

We took a break and then continued on to the tower.  We passed a volunteer ranger and got a chance to talk about the current conditions.  He said the trail to San Jacinto Peak might not reopen until next year.  He also mentioned that last Saturday he counted 70 people on the trail to Tahquitz since that was the only one open via Humber Park!  We continued on knowing that we would see him again at the tower.

We are almost there Frodo!

We are almost there Frodo!

And then we were there.  And someone was inside!  To let us in from the cold!  I had been to the tower many times before, but I’ve never actually gone inside!  This was a real treat for me.  There was a desk, a bed, a stove, books, sign-in sheets, cooking supplies, everything a volunteer could need while checking for fires.

A humble adobe

A humble adobe

We talked with the volunteer for half an hour while we ate our lunch and then he gave us each a card saying that we climbed Tahquitz Peak Lookout Tower and thus we were recognized as members of the “Ancient and Honorable Order of Squirrels.”

View from the tower

View from the tower

I suggested to my friend that instead of going back the way we came, that we should take the South Ridge Trail and then hook onto the Ernie Maxwell Trail back to Humber Park.  That would make it a loop hike for us.  She happily agreed and off we went.  Descending down the trail was amazing since there were a lot of rolling clouds over the valley.  Of course I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

Sea of clouds

Sea of clouds

And before we knew it we were back at the quiet parking lot taking a break before the drive back to San Diego.  I thought of all the hikes I could do during the week and I thanked someone/something that despite not having work I can go hiking.

I did my first Sierra Club backpack bus trip during the Labor Day weekend. About 50 of us packed a bus on Thursday evening and headed over to Upper Sage Campground near Big Pine, California. We arrived to the campground at midnight and quickly set up our tents near Big Pine Creek. Friday morning we woke up to clear skies and warm weather. The bus was scheduled to pick us up at 9 a.m. so we had plenty of time to break camp, cook breakfast and reconsider what we were bringing on the trip. My pack weighed about 30 pounds! I also got to meet the 12 other members of my group. A few of them I had hiked with before. Our trip, Group #3, was destined for Bishop Pass. I had been to Mammoth and June Lake before, but this was my first time in the Bishop Pass area. The bus was on time and we quickly loaded again. By 11:30 a.m. we were at South Lake, at the Bishop Pass trailhead (it took a long time because we had to pick up permits and drop off the other three groups at their trailheads.) The last time I had backpacked was last Thanksgiving in the Grand Canyon so several days before this trip I was worried. But I meditated and hoped that all would go well. And off we went. Wow.

Hiking along Long Lake

Hiking along Long Lake

The scenery was amazing. We passed so many lakes, trees, and mountains and the cloud formations were spectacular! I could not stop taking photos.

View of Bull Lake

View of Bull Lake

I said to myself, “Now why haven’t I been here more often?” The weather reports for the weekend said 50% chance of rain. By the time we reached the base of Bishop Pass, the clouds on the other side looked ominous. Several members who had backpacked in the area before and the leader decided to set up camp at Bishop Lake and then go over the pass the next morning.

Bishop Lake

Bishop Lake

So we set up our tents and unloaded packs. Happy hour eventually turned into cooking dinner and before we reached the dessert course it started raining. So we quickly went into our tents around 6:30 p.m. and took a nap. My tent did well against the rain. Finally around 7:30 p.m. the storm had cleared and we went outside to wait for the stars to come out. We stood around and talked and fortunately one person brought a flask of Scotch. I brought a mini plastic bottle of Sangria, but I think next time I’ll bring a flask of Bailey’s. Once I couldn’t withstand the cold anymore I called it a night. And I slept soundly. Saturday morning I woke up to a damp sleeping bag and pad. So we had to wait for our gear to dry out before we could head over the pass. My pack felt heavier since some of my gear was still damp. Anyway, off we marched over to the famous Bishop Pass. Wow! The views at the top were spectacular!

The view from Bishop Pass

The view from Bishop Pass

It was tough getting over the pass with a full pack but I did it and I enjoyed my well-deserved Snickers Bar. We took a break at the top and took pictures near the sign. Later that day we set up camp at Upper Dusy Basin lakes and did a day hike to the Lower Dusy Basin lakes.

Lower Dusy Basin lakes

Lower Dusy Basin lakes

We had wanted to go to Knapsack Pass, but again, the weather looked ominous. After we returned to camp and had dinner, several members decided to dance to the Bee Gees at 10,000 ft.

The Palisades

The Palisades

Yes, the Sierra Club has a thing about not allowing sound-generating devices on trips, but….Day 3 found us going over Bishop Pass in the morning on our way towards the Chocolate Lakes.

Tina and I at Bishop Pass, again!

Tina and I at Bishop Pass, again!

We set up camp at Chocolate Lake #2.

Chocolate Lake #2

Chocolate Lake #2

That evening we were rewarded by a beautiful sunset!

Last evening

Last evening

I slept well that last evening and I was not looking forward to the return home. So when I awoke the next morning a friend and I decided to check out Chocolate Lake #3 and hike up to the saddle to see Ruwau Lake.

Chocolate Lake #3

Chocolate Lake #3

Ruwau Lake

Ruwau Lake

I took a moment to say good-bye and thank you for a great trip.

Heading out of camp looking down at Chocolate Lake #1

Heading out of camp looking down at Chocolate Lake #1

In search of cold beer....

In search of cold beer….

And before I knew it I was back on the bus headed towards San Diego, but at least I was enjoying a couple of Mammoth Brewing brews.