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Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

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

 

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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.

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My mom and I did a camping trip in Humboldt Redwoods State Park last week, our first time in the redwoods of Northern California. We camped at Albee Creek campground for three nights and enjoyed the serenity of the forest. For my birthday I decided that I wanted to do a peak hike, Grasshopper Peak. I asked the ranger for directions to the main trailhead from the campground. She gladly pointed us in the direction and added that the hike is 3,000 ft. gain in about 7 miles in 80-90 degree weather. I knew beforehand what we would be signing up for. I thanked the ranger and we headed out of the campground. Once we reached the fire road off of Mattole Road the trails starts ascending. Luckily we had the shade of the trees to protect us from the sun.  After about an hour into our hike I noticed something moving sluggishly about 200- 250 ft. ahead of me. I turned around to my mother and said “I think that’s a bear.” She looked and confirmed. So she starts fishing into her backpack for her camera while I’m turning back around. I said, “Mom, let’s go back.” To which she replies, “No let’s continue on. The bear went down into the ravine.” I argued with her for a while but I couldn’t stop her and I didn’t want her to go on her own. So we marched forward making noises with our trekking poles. Of course my heart was beating so fast. I had never seen a bear on the trail before and I was scared for at least an hour afterwards. But then I stopped thinking about it and tried to enjoy that I was hiking on my birthday in the redwoods. The trail is not as visually appealing as the trails at lower elevation, but the area is dense with green trees which is quite different from southern California. It reminded me of my days in Bloomington, Indiana. It is a tough hike, but if you are interested in summit hikes then this is for you. We finally reached the peak around noon and had lunch at the top and enjoyed the views overlooking the redwoods.

View from the top

View from the top

Lunch with a view

Lunch with a view

On the trail

On the trail

After our break we returned to the campground.

Trees along Mattole Road

Trees along Mattole Road

I told the ranger that we saw a bear on the trail and she said that they normally don’t approach humans and that we were fine. In any event, I was glad to have returned safely to our campsite where drinks and a hearty dinner would be happily prepared.

Campsite

Campsite

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Santiago Peak! I finally crossed it off my list of to-do hikes. I had wanted to do this since 2009, but for one reason or another I never got around to it. Finally, the Sierra Club of San Diego posted an outdoor outing and I quickly signed up as I knew it would fill up quickly, and it did. Santiago Peak is in the Santa Ana Mountains and it is the highest peak of Orange County. The 15 of us hikers met at 6:30 a.m. at a Park’n Ride and carpooled to the trailhead, which was about an hour and a half drive. I highly recommend high clearance vehicles as you have to drive 4.7 miles to the Holy Jim trailhead. The Volvo I was in took a while to navigate over the holes and big rocks on the path. It was overcast in the OC area, but once we reached the trailhead the sun was out and I knew we would be hiking under sunny clear skies while the rest of southern California would be blanketed with clouds. Once we had assembled our packs we hit the trail at around 8:50 a.m.

Morning at the trailhead.

Morning at the trailhead.

Hikers getting their gear ready.

Hikers getting their gear ready.

I stayed near the front of the group and the hiker who was leading was going at superfast speed up the steep inclines, but I was determined to stay with her. The leader warned us a head of time of black flies, but thankfully I didn’t need to wear my bug net. The terrain is mostly chaparral, but you will find oaks and sycamores when you hike through the deep canyons.

Hiking through chaparral.

Hiking through chaparral.

And once you get higher up in elevation you have beautiful views of the Santa Ana Mountains and can see San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, and the San Gabriel Mountains.

Almost near the top.

Almost near the top.

Finally, we reached the summit after a long push. It is a difficult hike, but well worth it. We had lunch near one of the many electrical towers, rested, and located the summit register.

The view from the summit.

The view from the summit.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, there is a vehicle road to the top and you will find JEEPS, trucks, motorbikes and mountain bikers going up the dirt road. On the parts were hikers do have to take the vehicle dirt road, be wary of the drivers. Some are polite while others not so much. After our lunch break, we headed back down, which is so much easier and faster.

Returning to the trailhead.

Returning to the trailhead.

We arrived back to our cars a little after 4 p.m. According to my GPS we covered 16.7 miles with an elevation gain of 4,202 ft. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday. Several hikers decided to go to the biker bar afterwards for beers and burgers, but even though they did have a vegetarian burger on the menu, I opted out of it. Instead I enjoyed Silva Stout by Green Flash from the comfort of my home. I highly recommend that beer! Oh, and I recommend this hike as well.

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Last Saturday my friends and I decided to explore Black Mountain, which would be something new for the three of us. In San Diego County there are two Black Mountains, a small one in Rancho Penasquitos and then a bigger one near the town of Ramona. We read up about it in Jerry Schad’s book and there’s also an article in the San Diego Reader. At first, I was a little unenthusiastic about this hike since there aren’t that many great trails in Ramona, but I was wrong. Driving through Pamo Valley on the way to the trailhead was beautiful and with the recent rains, the meadows were beginning to turn green. If we get more rain, then we should have a really spectacular spring. It was cold by San Diego standards on Saturday, with a low of 23 and a high of 54 degrees, but at least the sun was out. The trail is basically a dirt fire road up to the summit. My GPS calculated 14.44 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 3,100 ft. The views of Lake Sutherland, Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve, Toro Peak, the snow-dusted San Jacinto Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean really stood out on that clear winter day. I was glad to have hiked on a new trail for the second time in a row this year and I hope to do more of that.  If you are looking for something in the Ramona area, then I recommend tackling this mountain.

View east towards Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve

View east towards Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve

View of Lake Sutherland

View of Lake Sutherland

Another view of Lake Sutherland from the summit

Another view of Lake Sutherland from the summit

Pamo Valley

Pamo Valley

Engelman Oak

Engelmann Oak

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To start out 2013 I continued my ritual of hiking on New Year’s Day (a tradition I picked up during my days with the Bloomington Hiking Club).  I had no idea where we would be going, but I was always curious about the Ramona Trail and Thomas Mountain whenever we drive past it on our way to Idyllwild. This time we decided to check it out. Over the last weekend southern California got a lot of rain so I was expecting some snow. Thankfully we didn’t need yak trax or snow shoes. My gosh, the trail was breathtaking! The views of the San Jacinto Mountains were amazing and the transition from manzanita trees to pine trees was beautiful. I really enjoyed this trail. Here are a few pictures from my first hike of 2013. Thank you 2012!

View of San Jacinto Peak

View of San Jacinto Peak

Snow covered trail

Snow covered trail

Manzanitas and pines

Manzanitas and pines

 

 

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“Yellow is the color of my true love’s hair…”

At 6:30 a.m. we were awakened by a crew hut member serenading this Donovan song, one of my favorites.  Best way to be woken up in the mountains.  And yes, the skies were blue.  It would be icy and cold on our way to the next hut, but at least the sun would be out.  I had half an hour before breakfast to wash up, roll up my sleeping bag, and repack my gear.  I layered myself well and made sure I had my hand warmers ready for the hike out.  Breakfast was oatmeal, pancakes, and bacon.  Today we split up into two groups.  The first group left at 8:15 a.m. and the second group, which I was in, left at 8:45 a.m.  I checked my thermometer that morning and it read about 20 degrees.

Our guide

We all had trekking poles, but I wished I had my yak traks.  We took our time today since the trail was very slippery and icy.  I think I fell about five or six times.  I also had to slide on me bum when we went down steep sections.  From the Galehead Hut we took the Twinway Trail and summited South Twin Mountain, Mt. Guyot, and Zealand Mtn. before reaching Zealand Falls Hut.

On the Twinway Trail

Throughout the day our knowledgeable guide, Mitra, taught us about the flora and fauna of the area.  She also talked about the Presidential Range and the history of the White Mountains.

Near Mt. Guyot

Icycles

Scrambling over snow-covered rocks

We reached the hut five minutes late for dinner after covering 6.78 miles with 2,031 ft. gain/loss.  I was hungry, tired, and my feet were cold.  Once the others had arrived to the hut, we walked in together, dropped our packs and sat at the dinner table with the first group who had probably arrived well over an hour before us.  Again, we had a hearty meal of rice soup, bread, corn, and Turkey, but since I’m a vegetarian they served me tempeh with veggies.  Desert was apple spice cake with decaf coffee.  I didn’t play Bananagrams after dinner that night, but I did listen to a crew hut member talk about when she did the Appalachian Trail.  Before lights went out I retreated once again to the top bunk bed.

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