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    hiking
    Monday, December 21, 2015

    This review pertains to the entire hike from San Dieguito River Park off Via Rancho Parkway to the top of Bernardo Mountain and back. Total distance was just under 8 miles, and bear in mind I did this in mid-December when the weather is cool even at midday.

    For starters: the San Dieguito River Park Rangers are pretty awesome. I got into a long conversation with Brian, a Ranger before I set out and he explained the entire breadth of the watershed especially the Coast to Crest Trail and how far along the SDRP had come in establishing the trail officially. He was even able help me identify the un-named yet beflagged peninsula that juts out into the Lake Hodges Reservoir (It's Fletcher Point, or Flag point colloquially). Anyway, hats off to the Rangers, and Brian especially.

    The hike itself is typical San Diego: hilly, shrubby, boulder-y, you get my drift. Passing under the 15 was interesting but unspectacular. I do reccomend veering off trail about a mile and a half in to peruse the work of Escondido's local graffiti artists. An embankment with a grey boulder of immense size can be seen from the trail against the edge of a neighborhood. The grey boulder has been utterly destroyed, no doubt by the community developer many years ago. The pit is now filled with a rusty bicycle and shards of hundreds of beer bottles, all of which is surrounded by fairly extravagant graffiti. They've been using alot more than just spraypaint here. Take some time and take a look. If that kind of thing bothers you, ask yourself who's done more damage; the developer or the beer guzzling artisits?

    Moving up the trail a small bridge erected by "Team Trailbuilders" will take you over an absolutely lovely little creek to the Bernardo Summitt Trailhead. As you follow the north side of the mountain keep an eye out below, as that creek's source is in full view most of the way. It's an exceptionally pretty valley with tall Palm and Eucalyptus trees, and I believe it houses multiple murders of crows, at least it seemed to on my way down.

    Bernardo Mountain will not be necessarily easy. I reccomend bringing trekking poles to make sure you don't slip on the way back down, but most hikers won't need them. The peak itself has great views of Lake Hodges all the way out to the ocean, and during the summer would be an incredible spot to watch the sunset. I'm giving it 5 stars because it includes so much and because of the SDRP Rangers. Don't miss this hike. It's worth it.

    Happy Hiking

    hiking
    Tuesday, December 01, 2015

    I am supposed to like this place. It's close to my house. It's got water the whole way. There's an effing waterfall for God's sake.
    But I do not like hiking here. This is a bad place. A place where dreams go to die, muffled and silenced by the putrid gasses wafting from each and every poop taken between PQ and Carmel Valley....

    Wait. I tend to get literary when critiquing the places I most detest. I'll stick to the pros and cons on this one. It will be better that way. Pros first.

    1) Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is one of the only inland habitats that counter the urban sprawl of San Diego. Wildlife actually has a chance to exist in this place. Look up as you wind your way through the canyon. On every ridge you'll see million dollar homes peering down, their glassy window-mouths frothing at the thought of developing more and more of the land upon which you trek. "It could be more homes," they cry. Homes on streets with bland sounding names like Via Hornitos, or Caminito Don Julio (I might be at a bar writing this one....). It's because of PQ Preserve that the developers are held at bay and for that we must be thankful.

    2) Should an unimaginable injury befall you on zero grade adventure, there's no need to panic. You will found. Immediately. By everyone. Because they're all there in PQ Canyon. Running, biking, dancing, whatever. Everyone who ever lived is at PQ canyon right now, I assure you.

    3) The "trails" are wide. Wide enough for a semi-truck in many places. No need to bushwack on this one.

    4) There is a waterfall about 3 miles in. It's pleasant.

    5) You will not be hungry on this hike at all. When your stomach is empty, fear not! You see, there is a massive Sewage pipe that runs the length of the entire Canyon. In fact the whole canyon was dug up years ago to accommodate this. Why? So that when hikers like yourself got hungry, their nasal passages would fill with everwafting glory of a half-a-million poops flowing just beneath their feet. See, your hunger is gone now!

    Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is a good place for runners and mountain bikers. Hikers: stay away.

    Justin Arn

    hiking
    Tuesday, December 01, 2015

    Let me state emphatically: I do not like hiking here. This is a bad place. A place where dreams go to die, muffled and silenced by the putrid gasses wafting from each and every poop taken between PQ and Carmel Valley....

    Wait. I tend to get literary when critiquing the places I most detest. I'll stick to the pros and cons on this one. It will be better that way. Pros first.

    1) Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is one of the only inland habitats that counter the urban sprawl of San Diego. Wildlife actually has a chance to exist in this place. Look up as you wind your way through the canyon. On every ridge you'll see million dollar homes peering down, their glassy window-mouths frothing at the thought of developing more and more of the land upon which you trek. "It could be more homes," they cry. Homes on streets with bland sounding names like Via Hornitos, or Caminito Don Julio (I might be at a bar writing this one....). It's because of PQ Preserve that the developers are held at bay and for that we must be thankful.

    2) Should an unimaginable injury befall you on zero grade adventure, there's no need to panic. You will found. Immediately. By everyone. Because they're all there in PQ Canyon. Running, biking, dancing, whatever. Everyone who ever lived is at PQ canyon right now, I assure you.

    3) The "trails" are wide. Wide enough for a semi-truck in many places. No need to bushwack on this one.

    4) There is a waterfall about 3 miles in. It's pleasant.

    5) You will not be hungry on this hike at all. When your stomach is empty, fear not! You see, there is a massive Sewage pipe that runs the length of the entire Canyon. In fact the whole canyon was dug up years ago to accommodate this. Why? So that when hikers like yourself got hungry, their nasal passages would fill with everwafting glory of a half-a-million poops flowing just beneath their feet. See, your hunger is gone now!

    hiking
    Wednesday, November 18, 2015

    A friend of mine has been really big on this hike for a long time, and this morning I finally gave it a go. Overall experience was very good. The hike had a lot to offer, although I did venture off the trail quite a bit. That bushwacking earned me quite a few scrapes, but was worth it for the great pictures I got.

    I arrived at Elfin Forest Reserve Center right when they opened at 8am and I was pleased to see no-one else there yet The trailhead has plenty of bathrooms, an interpretive center, statuary, and even a wonderful creation myth story plaque from a Native American Tribe indigenous to the area. Keep an eye out for it, it's pretty cool.

    The trail immediately dips into the Escondido River Valley. The crisp water flows lazily through tree lined paths, and is quite beautifu. Upon first seeing this, I felt like I was being rewarded a little too early. Like having dessert for dinner... I contintued on the Botanical Trail until it looped around and met the Way Up Trail; the junction defined by a lookout point with sirns and a shaded bench. You will find these areas are peppered throughout the reserve and are found most consistently at key lookout points
    The Way Up Trail is probably the hardest part of this hike as it snakes and switchbacks over and over again up the mountainside. The grade is manageable, however and shouldn't be considered beyond the ability of a typical, or even lax, day hiker. The trail plateaus and splits to the Lake Hodges overlook trail (with mini overlooks throughout) on to the east, and the Equine Incline Trail to the west. The Olivenhain reservoir and dam is visible from almost anywhere on top of the mountain. It's shimmering crystal blue surface makes for excellent pictures.
    This entire area is a day-hiking explorer's dream. I do recommend bringing a map with you if it's your first time hiking this area, as I had to consult Google. to ensure that I had enough time to complete the trails I had chosen. While the signposts do give you approximate distances, I've found they are wrong more often than not.

    Happy Hiking!
    -Karma

    Wednesday, November 18, 2015

    A friend of mine has been really big on this hike for a long time, and this morning I finally gave it a go. Overall experience was very good. The hike had a lot to offer, although, I did venture off the trail quite a bit. That bushwacking got me quite a few scrapes, but also provided fantastic pictures.
    I arrived at Elfin Forest Reserve Center right when they opened at 8am and I was pleased to see no-one else there. The trailhead has plenty of bathrooms, an interpretive center, statuary, and even wonderful creation myth story from the Native Americans Indigenous to the area. Keep an eye out for it.
    The Trail immediately brings you into the Escondido River Valley with running water through dense trees and stones. Upon first seeing this, I kind of felt like I was being rewarded early. Like having dessert for dinner... Continuing on the Botanical Trail reaches the Way Up Trail, at which point sits a shaded bench. These are peppered throughout the reserve but can especially be found at overlook points.
    The Way Up Trail is probably the hardest part of this hike, snakes and switches back overy and over up the mountainside, but the grade is manageable and shouldn't be considered beyond the ability of a typical, or even lax day hiker. The trail plateaus and splits to the Lake Hodges overlook trail (with mini overlooks throughout) on the left, and the Equine Incline Trail. The Olivenhain reservoir and dam is visible from almost anywhere on top of the mountain. It's shimmering crystal blue surface makes for excellent pictures.
    This entire area is a day-hiking explorer's dream. I do recommend bringing a map with you if it's your first time up, as I had to consult Google a few times to ensure that I had enough time to complete the trails I had chosen, and while the signposts do give you approximate distances, I've found they are wrong

    I wanted to do a little pre-work hike and settled on (little) Black Mountain as it was near my house and I knew I could knock it quickly. Being Mid-November, the weather was cooperative cool throughout the trek.

    My start point was the top of Sundevil way; the street ends with a wooden fence, but the pavement continues another 1/8th of a mile or so to the trailhead. Starting at this point can be confusing if your not used to the trail. I veered left to join the nighthawk trail, whose starting point is officially Hilltop park a few hundred yards away.
    Nighthawk trail is wide rocky and provides very little shade. It joins little Black mountain loop after a span, and eventually leads to a a very large and deep set dirt road that circles the mountain to its peak.
    I came across 3 other hikers and a trail runner, but for the most part, found myself alone, a state I generally prefer. At the top of the mountain are some graffitied concrete blocks and an array of rusted satellite dishes and microwave emitters.

    Much to my dismay, I was unable to find the USGS survey marker for the mountain. I searched the summit high and low, but eventually availed myself with some very scenic photos instead. I'm determined to find that marker and plan to visit the NGS website and research a little more until I can track it down.

    I chose to come down the mountain via the Glider port side. A Fat and chunky trail, deeply etched by recent water erosion lowered me to the gliderport level, but, rather than continue, I decided to extend a a little further and connecred with Miners loop, trail that eventually brought me to the Black Mountain Open Space Park parking lot. Miners loop is narrow and rocky. Hugging the fledgling foothills of Black mountain the loop is full of tall chaparral that consistently shade explorers every 10 yards or so. There are also some markers with plant identifications and side trails for viewpoints dotting the trail.

    Finally, toward the end of my hike, where Miners Loop begins there is a cordoned off region that can be used to get to Black Mountain mine. It's an old arsenic mine that still has a few small caves a giant concrete flute on its side.

    Although all the trails are beginner-friendly, I do recommend you watch your step as many of the trails, no matter how wide, can be rocky, affording the uninitiated a sprained ankle or worse. This trail offers picturesque views of San Diego all the way to the ocean and beyond. I recommend it as a day or workout hike.

    -Karma

    hiking
    Saturday, November 14, 2015

    After years of living in San Diego, I finally came to Mt. Woodsen to see what all the fuss was about. The trailhead was easy to find and although parking supposedly costs $5, I managed to get away without paying. I suspect this is because of the time of year (November).

    A few hikers from a San Diego hiking community on Facebook mentioned how fun this trail was and they weren't lying. The trail gains two thousand feet of elevation but much of that is carved and hewn stone, which, although slightly taxing, is also hugely interesting. I've found it's easier to take my mind off my legs when I'm busy plotting my next few steps on rugged switchbacks.

    An earlier comment mentioned little shade, but I actually found that the massive boulders that characterize this hike provided shady spots every few thousand yards or so. I'm sure this depends on the time of day and year, so plan accordingly.

    Alas, you will come across many other hikers on this trail, as the "potato chip rock photo" seems to have become the go-to statement of outdoors-iness amongst the San Diego college-age community. When I arrived at this idolized stone there was a group of about 20 people waiting in line to have their pictures taken. Although I don't mind encountering other hikers and meeting new people, the traffic here is a bit much for the purist in me.

    Difficulty level: Fact is that just about anyone can traverse this one given enough time and inclination. Coming off the couch as I did, I found myself breathing heavily in spots, but overall I put up a decent time.

    I did spend an hour on the peak, eating lunch and searching for the USGS geodetic marker. Found it thanks to some good advice from some hiking social friends. If that's what you're after there will be some light climbing involved.
    - Find the last building with Mass Microwave Repeater,
    - Behind it is monstrously large boulder with a rickety metal and wood ladder,
    - If you can ascend the ladder without killing yourself there are at least 3 markers buried into the face of the boulder.

    Good luck and happy hiking!
    - Karma

    hiking
    Saturday, August 27, 2016

    hiking
    Thursday, December 17, 2015