Torrey Pines

A couple of weeks ago, I had a “duh” moment. Every Wednesday I attend a 6am yoga class (at San Diego Yoga Studio, which I highly recommend). Afterwards I go to work and eat breakfast. Work is quiet these days, so getting to work by 7:30am is not really necessary. It just occurred to me that I could go from yoga to a hiking destination on the west side of the Gauntlet Of Traffic. So last week, and again this past Wednesday, I hit Torrey Pines.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, just south of Del Mar, is an untouched area of coastline that includes the rare Torrey pine, found only there and on Santa Rosa Island. Parking is not free in the reserve, but there is beach-side parking just outside of it, which is not a problem at 7:30 in the morning. In addition to its wild beauty, Torrey Pines is also infamous for the steep driveway from the beach to the visitor’s center. Starting from the beach parking, it’s about a ten-minute walk uphill to the start of the trail network.

On last week’s visit, I completed the Guy Fleming loop. This made for about a 40-minute walk, including the walk up and down the drive, and time for me to stop and gawk at the stunning view. This week, I proceeded past the Guy Fleming loop, to the Parry Grove trail. This trail was similarly short and sweet, but included some steps down to the namesake grove, as well as a native plant garden (the Whitaker Garden).

And not to beat a dead horse, but again with the flowers! Love it here this year!!

 

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Oak Canyon in Super Bloom

I still don’t have a plan for this blog, and of course have been completely sidetracked in the blogging department by Project Perky. Since Project Perky has quieted down a bit, and I’m hiking more, I’ve decided to dive back in. My original plan for this blog was for it to be a working mom blog (hence the name, which I’ll get into in another post someday), but I also had a hankering for creating a hiking blog. My plan as of this moment is to blog about life in general, including the challenges and joys of being a working mom, but with a heavy focus on hiking, camping, and the outdoors.

With all that said… a few days ago I hiked Oak Canyon at Mission Trails Regional Park. I hiked part of this trail a week or two ago with my Family Adventures in Nature group and a gaggle of kids. On that meander we climbed every oak tree, marveled at a distance at beehives, caught tadpoles, turned over rocks, chased butterflies, and finally, for the pièce de résistance, climbed and clamored and splashed in a waterfall. It was so beautiful I decided I wanted to come back, sans children, to hike the length of the trail.

This year we had near-record rainfall. After years of drought here in California, all this rain is not only welcome, but it’s like an awakening – we’ve forgotten what this place usually looks like in spring, with trickling streams and flowers everywhere. There has been much press about the “super bloom” in the desert this year, and the desert is indeed beautiful; but every hike I’ve done this spring, from Torrey Pines to the Grand Canyon, has been covered in super blooms. Oak Canyon was no exception.

Mission Trails Regional Park is not far from my kids’ school, and it’s on my way to work, so in addition to being an awesome park, it’s also conveniently located for me. After dropping the kids off, I drove to the Old Mission Dam. There was a huge crowd of high school-aged kids gathering for a hike, so I geared up as quickly as I could to get ahead of them (which I succeeded at – I never saw them again the whole hike).

I hit the trail at 8:30am and followed the familiar route out to the waterfall where the kids had played. That portion of the hike was indeed the best part, but I pressed on. The hike followed the stream, crossing in several places. Eventually it met up with one of the Fortuna trails. As I approached the 52 highway, the stream opened into a small gorge with some rock scrambling. At this point, Jerry Schad (4th edition; I’m still waiting for my Scott Turner version!) has you turn around for an out-and-back hike, but I decided to make a small loop out of it, and turned up one of the Fortuna trails to head towards the Grasslands loop.

This trail was dramatically different; basically a wide, dirt road, in the broad sunshine. What it lost in raw riparian beauty it somewhat made up for in views, with rolling hills visible in every direction. That said, I can see why Schad dismissed the Grasslands Loop trail; it’s really more of a mountain biking trail and not a hiking destination.

My hike met back up with the Oak Canyon trail and after a wee bit of confusion on my part (which is visible in my GPX track) I made it back to the dam a little before 10am.

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Awesome oak tree

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Paige and friends

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Lane standing in a ray of sunshine

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Flowers on my solo hike

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Against a fence

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These were my favorites. My iPhone SE photo is certainly not doing them justice…

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Wilderness Basics Class

In 1956, some members of the San Diego Sierra Club started a class teaching wilderness survival techniques called “Basic Mountaineering.”  Now, exactly 60 years later, the renamed Wilderness Basics Class (“WBC”) is a San Diego institution.  I first learned about this class from Tad, who took the class with his friend Scott in ~1997 (about two years before I met Tad).  Ever since then I have been interested in taking it, but there has always been a reason not to.  Before having kids I simply did not prioritize it, and after having kids there was no way to take such a class.

The class is held once a year, from January to March.  In late 2014, my project at work was winding down, and I decided my schedule would allow me to finally take the class.  In November of 2014 I attempted to sign up, but it was full already!  I decided then that I would take it the next year no matter what, and I put the day registration opened into my calendar.

Fast forward a year, and I was working on a new project that was keeping me extremely busy, helping to coordinate a trial of a new technology from February to April in China — not really a very good year to sign up!  But I had made my decision and signed up anyway.  I had Tad’s full support, and the kids are old enough to not require as much of my attention.

The class is held every Tuesday evening for 3 hours, with four major weekend outings.  I attended my first class last Tuesday.  This weekend the WBC organizers hosted a short day hike for the purpose of assessing us for the outings.  I signed up for the 7am Saturday time slot.  The hike was held on the first 1.75mi of the longer trail at Iron Mountain in Poway.  After completing the course, I decided to keep going another 1.75 miles to the top of Iron Mountain.  It was a nice day, relatively cool, and starting at 7am made for easy parking and thin crowds.  During the timed portion, I met a fellow WBC-er named Brian.  After the timed portion, I hiked the rest of the way up with another WBC-er named Gwen.  (I do suspect the mileage; the second 1.75 seemed much longer.  I assume this was because it was the steeper part of the hike.)
I completed the timed portion in 29 minutes, which I think is pretty good.  Overall, it was a 6.4 mile hike which I did in 2 hours.  The first hour was the hike up, covering 1000 feet in elevation.  This will be a useful reference for me as I decide which of the major outings to sign up for.

In talking to Gwen and Brian I came to realize that I’m going to need to be able to answer one of the first questions that other WBC’ers are asking: that is, why am I taking the class?  I’ve landed on three reasons: 1. Because it’s a San Diego institution, and is something that should be done; 2. Because having a schedule and a group to go backpacking with will motivate me to do so; and 3. Because it’s good for me to do this separately from Tad, and be more on my own and figuring things out for myself.  I’m looking forward to it!

 

  

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Rain

We don’t get a lot of rain here in El Cajon; especially not in the summer.  This weekend has been very strange, weather-wise.  On Saturday I woke up to thunder & lightning, and it rained all day.  Sunday was sunny but muggy until early afternoon, when it started to pour.

In the evening, after getting home from a birthday party for a classmate of Lane’s, Tad & I enjoyed the relaxing sound of the drizzle alongside some Grateful Dead and a glass of Merlot.

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Crestridge Ecological Reserve

This morning I hiked up to a “peaklet” in Crest. I’m there now as I type this! Trying live blogging.

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Practice Posting

I would like to publish a blog.  I used to keep a family-oriented blog many years ago when my kids were first born, but we lost all the postings when a hard drive crashed!  Since then I have been reluctant to start again, because I’d rather keep a more focused blog than the one I used to have, and don’t quite have a plan yet.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to start blogging with a focus on learning how to use the various tools that are available.  Learn to use WordPress, and customize my page, take videos, etc.  So, I’m getting started with that.  Perhaps the content will be useful to others who are trying to learn to set up a blog for the first time, although that’s not really my goal here.

It is 5am right now, and I’m planning on a solo sunrise hike of Cowles Mountain here in San Diego.  I’m going to try to figure out how to live-blog my hike.  Here goes!

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Test Post

First test posting

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