Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mt. Wilson Backpack

For our first (and maybe last) Philmont training hike, we hooked up with troop 782 for a weekend at Mt. Wilson.  The forecast going in was for some rain and probably cold and maybe windy at the summit.  We didn't cancel since we figured it wouldn't be too bad.  Both troops met at our church and we loaded gear and scouts quickly so we could make it up there before the gate was locked.  After fighting traffic and accidents, we made to Chantry Flats road gate with 10 minutes to spare; the police car was standing by to lock it as well!  At the parking lot, we arranged group gear and food.  Then it is was off for a 3 mile night hike to Hoegee's camp.  The moon provided some nice light but the trail is very wooded so it was a bit spooky walking it.  Camp was pretty crowded mainly with other scouts but a few other groups as well.  A few of us cowboy camped but I was awakened around 4am by sprinkling on my face.  I made the decision to put up my tarp and went back to sleep. Some of the scouts didn't put up shelters and woke up a bit wet.
The next morning was overcast as we ate breakfast, drank coffee and packed up for the hike to the summit.  Shortly after starting out, it started to rain lightly.  As we made our way up the steep trail, it rained harder and harder. By the time we got to the road, we were all in full rain gear.  The summit was socked in and we couldn't even see across the parking lot.  We decided to bail and thankfully another scout and his family had driven up and were able to give us a hitch back to Chantry Flats.  After several hours of shuttling and rescuing another hiker, we finally headed back to Encinitas.
It was a great hike to test out gear and I can't wait to get up there again so I can see what it looks like!

















Hoegee's camp

Raining at the bench



Monday, April 24, 2017

Eagle Rock PCT Backpack

For a troop 774 beginner backpack, we headed to do the PCT section up to Eagle Rock near Warner Springs.
On Saturday morning, we parked the cars at Barrel Springs.  While we waited for everyone to arrive, we checked out the spring and trough which had plenty of water.  There were a few hikers there; they certainly wouldn't be last we would come across.  After lunch and some training on gear and maps, we headed out northbound on the PCT.  It was about 4 rolling miles to our camp at San Ysidro creek.  We were the first ones there but by nightfall another troop camped upstream and several thru hikers had found spots as well.  There were probably 40 plus folks along the creek! The scouts setup tents and started exploring the local creek and rocks.  In the afternoon, we took the 2 mile walk out to Eagle Rock and back.
The next morning was slow getting up and going but the hike went quick.  We got to the cars, unloaded gear and drove home. Overall, it was a bit hot but a great trip to get the new scouts into backpacking.




Barrel Springs trailhead

Along the PCT

Great views

To Eagle Rock

Eagle Rock

Cowboy camping


Monday, April 10, 2017

Pamo Valley Recon

I was going to spending the weekend at Wilderness and Remote First Aid class so I took the chance on my off Friday to recon a place I have never been, the Pamo Valley area.  I have seen it on the CNF maps but didn't really know what was there.  I drove up along the 79 to Ramona to the Palomar District ranger station.  I chatted for a bit with the very helpful rangers and the head out to find the Black Canyon pools.  After some pavement and a few miles of dirt road, I made it to the pools.  With all the water, they were flowing nicely.  With the great weather and lack of people, it was an awesome spot.  The only downer was all the graffiti (which the ranger warned me about).
After enjoying the pools I drove back to the station and down into the valley.  It was like an oasis with all the green and flowing streams.  I drove up to the north end and back.  Most of the bottom of the valley is owned by the City of San Diego for ranching.  But you can take side roads up to Black Mountain and Orosco Ridge.  I headed up to ridge for a few miles on a very bumpy road.  There wasn't much there.
This is a great area for day hikes and exploring.  But I need to search some more to find some good camping spots.

Black Canyon bridge

Black Canyon pools

Black Canyon pools

Pamo Valley - End of the Road

Pamo Valley - View from Orosco Ridge


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

PCT Section B Weekender

Another Scoutmaster and I took off for the weekend to finish the San Diego part of the PCT.  This would cover section B miles 109 (Warner Springs) through 152 (Hwy 74). 
We met up in Temecula to setup our car shuttle.  We drove to the Hwy 74 trailhead and left my car in the lot with an Adventure Pass.  We then drove the other car to the Warner Springs Community Resource Center parking lot.  The folks there were very nice and didn't have any problem with us leaving a car there.  We hit the trail around 11:00a.  The first part of the trail meandered through the meadows and the flowers of the "super-bloom."  Then the trail started winding its way up the canyon of Agua Caliente creek.  We met a few sections hikers heading south along this part.  Upon leaving the canyon, we hit some heat and sun.  We were grateful to take a rest at Lost Valley Spring.  The last 4 miles to our camp (CS0124) where uphill and hot.  The site only had 2 or 3 spots among some large boulders.  A thru-hiker named Mellow walked by while we were getting dinner ready and decided to hike on for more space.  Rich brought chili dogs and they were great after the 14 mile hike.  I was using Bengt's Shangri-La 2 tarp for the first time and had a interesting pitch with some uneven corners but it worked fine for the night even with the wind.
The next morning, we got some hot water going and packed up.  We were hiking around 7:30 and it was still pretty chilly since the trail was on the west side of the ridge until we got to Lost Valley Road.  We walked the road a bit to get to Mike's water tanks and filled up.  While there, we met thru-hikers Daddy Gizmo and Lacy (blog).  After getting water, we started the slog up to Combs Peak.  We considered bagging the peak but could not find a way up due to all the chaparral.  I will have to come back to day hike it. Once at the peak, we started a long downhill.  Along the way we met some scouts heading up; we didn't have the heart to tell them about the trail ahead.  We stopped for lunch and water at Tule Creek which had enough water on the surface to filter.  The next few miles were nice, undulating desert terrain.  We then hit Nance Canyon and another 4 mile slog to our camp at CS0146.  There was already one tent there and 5 more people showed up by nightfall.  It was a bit windy but a great site overall.  Dinner consisted of some of my home brew dehydrated chicken verde and borracho beans.  It tasted fine but a bit crunchy.
Sunday morning was a bit warmer that the previous one.  We made a brief stop at Welden to chat with Bill and the cache owner.  We didn't need water since we hauled 4 liters from Tule Creek.  The next few miles went fast.  The last couple were a bit uphill but we made great time and got to the car around 10:15.  From there we drove to Paradise Valley Cafe and joined other hikers on the patio for large breakfast.  We fulfilled our trail angel duties by giving Rob and Lacy a ride into Idylwild.  It seems that all hikers and skipping the section from the 74 to Idylwild even though some of it is open.
It was a great trip and can't wait for the next trip!

Start of section B

Along the trail looking south

Between a rock and hard place

Cozy tarp

Mike's water tanks

Large horned lizard

Camp at mile 144

Walden cache

Hwy 74 junction


Monday, March 20, 2017

Weekend Activities

  • Hike from Cardiff to Del Mar Dog Beach
  • Relaxing at home
Around the point from Dog Beach

Ocean reclaiming the land, and someone's backyard


Monday, March 13, 2017

Cuyamaca Camp

We had our first campout with the latest batch of new scouts at Paso Picacho Campground in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.  We hadn't been to Cuyamaca in a while and it was nice to be back. Here are the highlights:
  • Hike to Stonewall Peak (one of the best in San Diego County)
  • Cooking
  • Knots
  • Navigation
  • Campfire!


Atop Stonewall Peak

Tree Trunk

Friday, March 10, 2017

Winter Reading List

Books

Monday, March 06, 2017

Desert Wildflowers

With Jaya back home for spring break, we took a road trip out to the desert to see the wildflowers.  We started out on the 78 to Ramona and out to Santa Ysabel.  We stopped at Trumper's for some awesome local honey. We then headed north on the 79 to the S2.  The westbound traffic was backed up for miles; must have been some sort of off-road event due to all the RV's and trailers.  We took S22 down into Borrego Springs and parked near Christmas Circle.  We got lunch and Jilberto's and checked out the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association.  Based on their advice, we headed north on Borrego Springs Road, making several stops for the Galleta Meadows sculptures and the flowers.  Then we went east on Henderson Canyon Rd for more flowers and a stop at the Peg Leg Smith Monument.  From there, we headed south on S3 to hook with the 78 and into Julian.  We stopped at Grandma's Kitchen for awesome deep-dish pie and coffee.  It was amazing how much colder and wetter Julian and the foothills were than the desert.  It was perfect day especially with the entire family together.


Grape harvest

Lone saguaro

San Felipe Valley


Monday, February 27, 2017

Pinto Canyon Hike

I joined the hiking group for another desert trek into the far southeast corner of San Diego County (and into Imperial County as well).  We started at Mountain Springs right off the 8 just east of the Desert View Tower.  The storm was being stopped by the mountains but the high winds were pushing a lot of moisture east so we started hiking with our backs getting wet.  This hike almost all cross-country as we winded our way to a large wash that was our first landmark.  We hit the wash and started upstream.  There was plenty of water to soak all the palms in the canyon.  After a bit we entered a flatter area that lead into Myer's Valley.  We spotted a nice peak and decided to bag it.  As we climbed the ridge up, the winds were brutal.  It was a bit better staying below the ridgeline and we made the peak without too much effort.  After a quick lunch on top, we headed down Pinto Canyon.  Pinto Canyon had great rock formations reminiscent of Joshua Tree NP.  The goal was to find some pictographs but it was decided they would be too far so we turned around.  We followed a different wash to start the return leg but then merged with our inbound route back to car.  It was pretty cold and wet as we got near the car and the storm still looming in the mountains overhead.  Overall a great hike in a very unused area of the country.

Rainbow over Mountain Springs

Clouds in the desert

Goodie bag

Pinto Canyon

Blue sky

Rock meets palm tree



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dos Cabezas and Trifecta Challenge

We took our first trip out to Dos Cabezas after hearing about it from the HALT folks.  We drove out on Saturday morning and met up in Ocotillo.  Then we headed on the dirt road through the wind farm, then following the tracks northward.  We hit a couple dicey spots but made it to a nice camping spot.  After lunch, we hiked out the find the elusive Cave of the Blue Sun.  It was a good cross country experience except for all the cholla.  The scouts built a nice fire and we had some skits before go to be early (winter does that too you).
On the drive back home, the scouts agreed to do the A16 Trifecta Challenge.  So we took pictures in Ocotillo for the desert portion.  We then drove up to Mt. Laguna and thankfully found enough patches of snow for a snowball fight.  Lastly, we stopped at Moonlight Beach for the last leg.  Southern California is one of the few places in the world you can do this!  I was finisher #29.

Camping near the tracks

Waiting for a train!

Boulder cave

Cave of the Blue Sun

Sunrise in the Desert


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Gumshoe Krebs

Brian Krebs does some great detective work trying to find who DDOS'ed his site.  A must read.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Battle of Hiking Guidebooks

The Reader has a good article on the "battle" between local hiking guidebooks.  Schad has been go-to book for over 15 years now.  I was super elated to hear that Scott Turner will writing a new edition (whose release will be like Christmas in February)!  Due to that, I didn't consider buying "Coast to Cactus" but I think I will now.  By the way, that hike picture from Florida Canyon is not my idea of good hiking.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

2016 Family Reunion Cruise

We had our somewhat regular family reunion event the week between Christmas and New Year.  This was another Carnival cruise but leaving from Port Canaveral.  Also, my side of the family crashed it so had lots of people on the boat!
After leaving port, we had a day as sea.  It was quite rough going but I didn't get sick like some.  The first port was Grand Turk.  Grand Turk is a tiny island that is basically a big beach.  We didn't do an excursion but hiked around.  We found some cool shells but the boat didn't let us bring them on board.
The second port was in the Dominican Republic.  We had an excursion planning at the waterfalls of Damajagua with Iguana Mama.  It was awesome.  We hiked a few miles into the jungle and then followed the river jumping down cliffs and sliding down waterfalls.  Highly recommended.
The next day we spent getting back to port.  Overall, it was fun but the amenities like food and the entertainment seemed a notch below previous cruises.
After departing, we hit Kennedy Space Center which was great.  I am not a big space fanatic but loved the older rockets like the Saturn V.
Lastly, we drove up to Blue Springs State Park to see manatees.  They spend the winter there due to the warmer waters.  It was pretty interesting and well worth the drive.

Blue Springs State Park

Business End of a Saturn V at Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

Grand Turk and John Glenn

No Loafing!

Hiking on Grand Turk

Columbus Was Here

Dominican Republic
End of the Line at Grand Turk


Docked at Grand Turk

The Docks

Clan Takes Over Deck 5