If you’re looking for a nice hike, in the wild, with few people around, this is the one. Corte Madera Mountain in Cleveland National Forest, just east of San Diego. You will need a permit, but you can get a free permit emailed to you if you call the rangers station. Seeing as I was the only one on the trail, I had my choice of the couple of campsites at the summit!
The Trail is a 7.5 mile out and back trail near Morena Village. There are great views over
the Lake Morena area and the desert as you climb. At 4,657 feet, it is a continuous climb, so don’t forget to take plenty of water! Overall, great hike. The manzanitas that line the trail throughout the hike are cool, some were completely covered in the bright red bark.
There are signs noting the birds of prey nesting in the area, I wasn’t lucky enough to spot any. On the upside I also didn’t see the mountain lion that is rumored to be in the area, either.
Leaving late in the afternoon I made it to the top and set up camp just in time for the moonrise! My camp was just off trail surrounded by large granite boulders, I had dinner grazing at the twinkling city lights in the distance. It was a lovely, much needed, restful evening under a full moon. Initially I had intended on staying two nights, but quite a few hikers came through in the morning so I decided to bounce. I hiked down and headed for Anza Borrego State Park! I really enjoy the desert. (side note my first bicycle was a yellow banana seat named the Desert Flower, foreshadowing?) The desert is very calming to me, hot, but calm. So, yep from the mountains to the desert in an hour, Southern California! On the way to meet friends, I stopped off to stretch my legs at the Slot Canyons. It has been awhile since I’ve been there.
The Slot Canyon, just of highway 78, is a hidden gem of tall narrow channels, that at points you need to squeeze your body to fit around tight curves. The trail itself is pretty easy, with plenty of kids scrambling through. The trail is only about 2 miles with a “loop” that goes out into the open desert. Take plenty of fluids and a hat if you plan on exploring the open sections! Most people that I saw go on the hike (probably due to the heat) just went through the canyon and then turned around and went back.
Spent the rest of the weekend recharging, reconnecting, watching four-wheelers and dirt bikes whip across the dry lake bed. I woke early to have coffee, watch the sunrise and take in the cool quiet morning.
Heading back home in the late afternoon as I approach Scissors Crossing I spotted two hikers thumbing on the side of the road! Two thru hikers from Brisbane, Australia looking to get a lift in Julian, I was happy to help and here how their journey was thus far. Being in this section of the PCT brings back a flood of memories. How little I knew, hitching for the first time and camping alone in the San Felipe Hills. It is my wish for the 2018 PCT class that they travel safely, show kindness to those that cross their path and remain open to the lessons of the trail!thru hikers happy to get to Julian…..and get some pie!