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Archive for March, 2010

My botany is not very good, but the promise of a colorful display of wildflowers in Anza-Borrego State Park seemed like a good reason to explore the trails.  Nancy met me at my place around 8ish on Sunday morning and from there we drove through Poway and Ramona on our way to Borrego Springs.  We didn’t want to do anything strenuous or long, so I suggested the Hellhole Canyon to Maidenhair Falls hike I had done with the Sierra Club in October of 2008.  Well, there was very little water back then, but with the amount of rain we received this year, I anticipated a huge flow of water.  And I think a lot of other people did too because when we arrived at the trailhead the parking lot was almost full!  The weather was perfect with temperatures in the mid 80s.  We started our hike through the sandy wash and stopped to take pictures of the ocotillos, and cholla cactus. 

Beginning of hike

We gradually made our way up the wash and after about 1.25 miles we started encountering boulders.  Nancy said that she would rather not scramble over huge boulders, especially on the way back down.  So, when we reached the first grove of palms, Nancy decided to wait while I continued on to the falls.  From here, it’s a free for all as there are many different routes.  One could take the trail along the south side of the stream, which means a steeper climb over boulders, or one could take the trail along the north side of the stream which is less steep. 

Getting closer to the falls

The further I got into the canyon the louder the sound of the stream became and I knew that the falls would be spectacular.  I continued my way beneath the palms and hopped over the boulders until I finally reached a large group of people standing in front of Maidenhair Falls.  I attempted to take a few pictures, but the crowd was large.  Nevertheless, I managed to get a shot or two of the falls.  What I enjoyed most about the hike was the boulder scrambling, more so than the abundance of water and blooming wildflowers.  I met Nancy at the first palm grove and we returned to the trailhead admiring the view of the desert valley.  

Looking east from Hellhole Canyon

The hike is about 5-6 miles with about 900’ elevation gain and lots of boulder scrambling!

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A couple of friends and I went to the Laguna Mountains for a Daylight Saving Time hike.  Since they were novice hikers, I planned for a moderate hike with varied terrain: pine forests, open meadows, valley views, etc., etc.  My plan was to combine the Sunset Trail with the Big Laguna Trail, a hike I’ve done in the past.  We were the first car to reach the south side of the trailhead off Sunrise Highway.  The air was chilly and bit our cheeks, but the clear sunny skies were a welcome respite from the storm clouds of the previous day.  We started around 9:00am and headed north on the Sunset Trail.  Portions of the trail still had snow and ice, but we were mainly dealing with mud.  When we reached the junction with the Big Laguna Trail, I asked my friends if they were interested in going to Garnet Peak, a trail I had never tried and heard had great views of the desert.  They agreed.  We reached the Penny Pines parking lot, crossed the highway and took the Pacific Crest Trail.  When I got a glimpse of the desert, I stopped in my tracks and had my friends lead the way so that they could get first look.  They were in awe!  The geology was amazing! 

View from Pacific Crest Trail

After taking several photos we continued on to where the PCT meets the Garnet Peak Trail.  Once we saw the sign pointing towards Garnet Peak we knew we were in for a butt buster!  At least there wasn’t snow on the trail.  We finally reached the peak and decided to stop for lunch as there was surprisingly no wind. 

On Garnet Peak

Refueled, we made our way back down mountain.  Our return route found us on the Big Laguna Trail.

Big Laguna Lake

We crossed the meadow to the Water of the Woods and then took the Sunset Trail back to the lot.  I don’t know how many miles we covered, but it was 3:15pm when we got to the car.   Yes, we were tired, but the fresh air, pine trees, and panoramic views were worth it.

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