Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Before leaving on Saturday to drive back to Tucson, I wanted to do one last hike with my parents. We chose Bernardo Mountain because it is close to Rancho Bernardo, has a moderate elevation gain of 1000 feet and offers great views from the top. We drove to the trail head on Bernardo Drive and began hiking at 11 am. The weather was beautiful but the temperature was very warm for January. I was happy I had brought three water bottles instead of the two I was planning on bringing. Around Lake Poway and the San Dieguito River Park I saw a total of seven hawks circling in the thermals. Without binoculars I identified four as Red-tails. On the summit I was struck by how much drier the mountains looked this year from last December. San Diego needs more rain in January and February. (Trail description available in my January 2012 post on Bernardo Mountain).
When I returned to Southern California over the New Year to visit family, re-hiking my October route from Highway 67 to Big Sky over Mount Woodson would be a priority. This hike offers everything including great views, Lake Poway and the majestic oaks of Blue Sky Ecological Reserve. The hike is approximately 8 miles with 2000 feet of elevation gain. If visitors do not want to hike the whole route it is possible to hike to the top of Mount Woodson from Highway 67 (three miles) or the longer route starting at Lake Poway (seven miles). The route up Mount Woodson from Highway 67 offers more shade from the sun.
Today I hiked the route with my mother. Over the years I have not been able to hike much with her so it was great she could join me. Her presence also forced me to slow down and appreciate the views and ecology of the area. This hike is very popular in fact today we saw many groups of four or five hikers. When I hiked this route in October Potato Chip Rock was deserted. I was able to climb on it but didn't get the ubiquitous photo because my camera stopped working. Today the line for Potato Chip rock was about 75 people definitely too many to wait. (For more information on the route itself please consult my October 13, 2013, post).