Archive for December, 2011

My mom and I couldn’t do our traditional Christmas Eve/Day hike this year.  Fortunately, I had Friday the 23rd off so we decided to go for a hike in our local mountains.  Mom was always curious about a trail off of Sunrise Highway, the Pioneer Mail Trail.  I had never been there before either so I agreed to explore.  The weather forecast showed high winds and sunny clear skies.  Yes, it was indeed windy when we stepped out of the car at the Pioneer Mail parking lot.  The temperatures were in the mid-40s but with the strong winds, my face was freezing.  We quickly started on the trail to warm up.  The trail hugs the edge of the Laguna Mountains and is part of the Pacific Crest Trail.  One can see the desert below and Garnet Peak to the south.

On the Pacific Crest Trail

There was still some snow on the chaparral-lined trail.  After about 1.5 miles, we stopped for a snack.  The trail is fairly easy and repetitive.  I suggested we head back to the car and go do another trail, perhaps somewhere near Julian.   My mom agreed.   Once we were back in the car we drove north on Sunrise Highway and passed the town of Julian.  I decided on going to Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve, the east end.  We usually start from the west end, but it had been a few years since we started from the east end.  The east end is a lot more scenic.  And wouldn’t you know?  No strong winds and we didn’t have to wear down jackets!  The area was beautiful!

In Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve

The sycamore trees still had their leaves and the bright sun created magnificent effects through the tunnel of oak trees!   I will never tire of Santa Ysabel.   I love the rolling hills, the grassland, and the huge trees.

Sycamore Tree

Being there was the best Christmas present by far.  After 3.5 miles on the trail, we headed back to the lot happy to have ended our day there.  As a side note, the town of Julian is known for its pies.  It’s also known for its hard cider.  I had picked up a cherry version of cider from the Julian Hard Cider company a few days ago at my local beverage store.  It only seemed appropriate to enjoy it that day since we had passed through Julian.  The cherry isn’t too prominent, but I noticed it more towards the end of consumption.  Perhaps the flavor settles most at the bottom of the bottle.  In any case, I would drink it again.  Oh, and you should try the regular hard cider as well.

Cherry Bomb

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It’s cold out there!  San Diego County has been experiencing record low temperatures this past week.  We felt it last Saturday when we went for a hike in the Laguna Mountains.  The last time we were there was in May so it was time for a fall hike in that area.  I checked the weather reports beforehand and saw that the temperatures would be quite low so I told my hiking buddy to bring layers.  After being in a warm car for 1.5 hours, it was hard getting out at the trailhead.  My thermometer read 35-40 degrees and with the wind chill it felt even colder.  We quickly started on the north end of the Big Laguna Trail and then hooked on to the Sunset Trail. 

On the Sunset Trail

This time I brought my GPS as I was always curious as to what the mileage was when doing a loop hike.  For lunch, we stopped at a rocky outcrop overlooking the valley and Sunrise Highway.  Rather than continuing south on the Sunset Trail we turned around and then took the Big Laguna Trail that is on the south side of Laguna Meadow. 

On the southern end of the Big Laguna Trail

And from there we went all the way around the eastern part of the meadow back to the parking lot.  It’s a relatively flat hike, but it can get repetitive at times.  My GPS calculated 10.57 miles with an elevation gain of 1192 ft.  This is a great hike to do in early fall and spring when there are wildflowers.

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