Oakzanita Peak November 2017

Vicki and I spent a beautiful Autumn day climbing Oakzanita Peak in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, while hiking a nine mile loop to the East Mesa via the Descanso Creek and Harvey Moore Trails.

Vicki and I on the summit of Oakzanita Peak

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Mount Baldy via Devils Backbone Sept 2017

My son and I joined up with members of the San Gabriel Mountains Discussion Forum for a fun day-hike to the 10064-foot summit of Mount Baldy (aka Mount San Antonio) via the Devils Backbone Trail.  We were lazy and took the ski lift up to Baldy Notch, then climbed the remaining 2300 feet to the summit.  So we weren’t utterly lazy.  Not content with bagging only one peak, my son and I headed off  for a quick visit to West Baldy, topping out at 9988 feet.  After rejoining our partners on Baldy, we headed back down the way we’d come, with the exception of taking a side trip to bag a third peak, Mount Harwood.  My son was feeling rather stoked as we headed into the Top of the Notch restaurant, where we ate our well-deserved burgers and beer.  With full bellies, there was no complaining when we took the ski lift back down to the cars.  All in all, it had been a great day on the mountain!

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Total Solar Eclipse 2017

We viewed the Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017 from the 7600-foot summit of Dixie Butte in Eastern Oregon.  To get there, we planned it so that we could drive south to Oregon after finishing our usual summer hiking trek up in the Washington Cascades.  To avoid the predicted traffic and crowds, we arrived a few days early and simply relaxed while camping up on the mountain until the morning of the eclipse.  Then we joined the Eclipse Party on the summit.  There must have been over a hundred people up there, and all of them had a great time.  Viewing a 100% total solar eclipse is a fantastic experience, and well-worth travelling to if you ever have the chance.

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Glacier Peak Wilderness 2017

Our big summer hike for 2017 was a ten day backpacking trek in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.  It took us two days to drive up to the Cascades in the State of Washington, but it was definitely worth it.  We hiked a large loop of about sixty miles, and climbed over fifteen thousand feet total.  All in all, it was one of the most fun and beautiful hikes we’ve ever taken.

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Paiute Pass July 2017

We hiked up the Paiute Pass Trail into Humphreys Basin over the long July Fourth Weekend.  We stayed the first night at Paiute Lake, and the second night on a high ridge between Desolation Lake and the Humphreys Lakes.  There was plenty of snow and very deep sun cups everywhere up in the basin.  The snow was melting everywhere but many of the lakes were still frozen.  It was a challenging and beautiful hike.

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Horseshoe Meadows Loop June 2017

I spent a day acclimating to elevation by hiking a ten mile loop out of Horseshoe Meadows.  I began by climbing up to Trail Pass, hiked along the Pacific Crest Trail to Cottonwood Pass, and then descended to the trailhead, completing the loop.  The weather was perfect and there was only a small amount of snow, so it was a fun hike.

Horseshoe Meadows Loop June 2017

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San Jacinto May 2017

We spent a night over the Memorial Day weekend backpacking along the Fuller Ridge Trail in the San Jacinto Wilderness.  Along the way, we visited the Black Mountain Fire Tower and also bagged Castle Rocks, an 8600-foot peak situated directly on Fuller Ridge.  We day-hiked along the Pacific Crest Trail, and enjoyed fine views in all directions.  All in all, it had been a relaxing weekend in the mountains.

Vicki on the Castle Rocks summit block

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Volcan Mountain May 2017

Vicki and I took a drive to Julian for a fun dayhike to the summit of Volcan Mountain, which lies within the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve.  Along the way there were plenty of excellent views, large old oak trees, and breezy grassy meadows.  It was a beautiful park and a fun climb.

Relaxing on a stone bench in the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve

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Hot Springs Mountain April 2017

Now that we’re back in shape, and while the weather was still cool, we decided to take a day-hike to the summit of the highest mountain in San Diego County:  Hot Springs Mountain, elevation 6533 feet.  Unlike other summits, this mountain resides within the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, and so a visit requires permission from the tribe.  Currently this is easy to get:  Just pay ten dollars for a permit at the reservation’s entrance and drive a few miles to the trailhead.

After that, it’s merely a matter of hiking five miles each way and ascending about 2000 feet.  It sounds much easier than it is, however, so don’t fool yourself:  You’ll be in for a solid day of hiking.

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PCT Onyx Summit to Whitewater April 2017

As Pacific Crest Trail “Section Hikers” we differ from the true “PCT Through-Hiker” in that we can hike the trail in any order and in any direction that we please.  This is the kind of freedom we like.  Our previous two hikes in California Section C were both Northbound, but this hike was planned from the outset to be Southbound. Why?  Because we did our homework and  checked the elevation profile of the trail.  We made darn sure that we started at a significantly higher point than the finish!  As we stated to the other hikers that we met along the way (all of them sweating and puffing up the trail):  “We take our PCT hikes downhill – both ways!”

And this section was truly a whopper of a downhill, with over 6500 feet between the highest and lowest points.  Being the ever-changing PCT, there was also more than 3000 feet of uphill climbing here and there along the way, which yielded a total descent of 9500 feet!  This was nearly two miles of elevation loss!  And it would have been a true knee-destroyer if it weren’t for the fact that it spread the change out over a total of more than 35 miles.  True, some sections were steeper than others, but all in all, the PCT is known for being a well-graded trail.  Just the same, we sure were glad to be hiking southbound this time!

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