It was a beautiful day today. I couldn’t ask for better weather — temperatures in the mid 80’s, and a nice breeze. Rather than head to the gym, I decided to get some exercise my own way. I loaded up my Gregory pack with my 8×10 gear, and used it as dead weight on a hike. I decided to try a new (to me) trail in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park. There are only a handful of trails here that I haven’t been on.
Cuyamaca was greatly affected by the Cedar Fire in 2003. At one point, this beautiful state park consisted of lush oak and pine groves, and scattered meadows. The fires killed most of the pine trees, and left the sycamore and oaks largely disfigured. I was glad to see new pine saplings, and all of the other signs of regeneration.
During the winter of 2009, I hiked through this park during a snow storm. A heavy ice covered branch fell across the trail just in front of me — this made me hesitant to continue. Moments later a towering pine skeleton snapped at the trunk, and crashed to the ground a mere 20 yards from my location. I took that as a sign and aborted the hike.
You’ll find the usual wildlife here, including woodpeckers, coyotes, deer — as well as the more elusive mountain lions.
In 1994, a woman was killed by a mountain lion on the same trail that I hiked today. It occurred during the early morning hours when these animals are most active. A second incident occurred in 1993, though the victim was not killed.
Most people will go their entire life without seeing a mountain lion in the wild. However, if you’ve spent a lot of time hiking through Cuyamaca, chances are that a mountain lion has observed you. I have only seen large footprints on the trail.
One of my goals today was to find a simplified view of Stonewall Peak that eliminates burnt trees, or surrounding peaks. This triangular peak would make for a great photo so long as there are some amazing clouds. Perhaps this is something for me to pursue next August/September when we get some monsoonal storms over the mountains.
It also bears mentioning that in 2001, a man was killed by lighting atop Stonewall Peak. The 360 degree exposed peak, complete with metal railings, is one of the worst places to be during a thunder storm.