Mountains of Memorial Day Fun

A few things before I launch into this post for real. First, a special thank you to all our military men, women, and families. Today is really all about you and remembering those who gave their lives to protect our freedoms. Second, my mom told me the last four posts (check them out!) have all made her cry, so I’m determined to keep this one light for her!

20130527-170505.jpgThis morning my friend, Matt, and I decided to go for a “long” hike.  Now, I should say that in my head I was thinking 6-8 miles, maybe some views, leave early, get back by lunch, no big deal.  Well, we did leave early as I picked him up at 7am and we got to the trail head about 7:45am.  He wanted to try out the El Capitan preserve, which is north-east of the city of San Diego and home of El Cajon Mountain.  Neither of us knew much about the trail, other than the fact that it was an out-and-back trail up a mountain.  In hindsight, I should’ve done some research… but Matt is responsible so I figured he knew what he was getting us into.

20130527-170518.jpgAs you can see above and below, the scenery was AMAZING! We could even glimpse the Pacific Ocean.  Now, pause for a second and check out the elevation “map” above. Notice the 2,100 ft elevation gain and the 5.37 mile one-way distance. Of course, we didn’t pay attention to either of those things until this sign… at mile three. Please also observe the 4,000 ft elevation gain total at the top, meaning we went back down and back up several times to get to that total amount. And apparently at times the slope was a 42% incline. I can attest to all of those factors.  This hike was legit.

20130527-170533.jpgEven leaving before 8am, it soon got warm and we were shedding layers. And it honestly wasn’t too bad through mile 3.5 or so, but then we had one last big downhill followed by almost a mile of uphill to the summit. And the path was smooth for the first few miles, but then it got fairly rocky with water run-out troughs down the sides of the trail.  The last .37 to the top was pretty much a vertical rock scramble around boulders and through the brush.  Fatigue had set in by then, so I just pushed it out to the top. Then I enjoyed the panorama below while I snacked on grapes and granola to recharge.

20130527-170555.jpgIt took us about 2.5 hours to get to the top, with many stops for water breaks and to enjoy the scenery.  On the way back down, we cruised through some sections but still had some fairly significant uphills and our legs were tiring.  It was also much hotter, so it actually took us about 2.5 hours to get back down as well.  We had to really watch our footing through the rocky slides and didn’t want our legs to give out in the heat.  After scrambling down, and warning several late-starters of the perils that lay ahead, we collapsed into the car and drove straight to a gas station for cold drinks. Round-trip, including breaks and snacks, was about 5.5 hours. Whew!

20130527-170604.jpgOverall, it was a fun hike just maybe a little late in the season to be completing it with the sun and the heat.  There was almost no shade, so I will be sporting a sweet square-neck tan-line from my Camelback this week. I’m glad I joined Matt though and really enjoyed spending time out in nature just relaxing and taking it all in.  It was the perfect way to end my wild Memorial Day weekend during which I did a ton but also rested a ton.  And now I feel ready to head into my final week of our spring semester of work.  Hope y’all had a wonderful, safe weekend and feel as thankful as I do today… Happy Memorial Day!!

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