Winter Sojourn

Deserts, mountains, forests or beaches–choose any one of these as a preference for a day hike and you will be able to find it in the San Diego area. And, best of all, when it’s the last week in January and cold everywhere else in the country, the weather here is sunny and in the 70’s. Rainy days are a possibility this time of the year but we were fortunate to have nice weather during our visit.

The day that we drove here from Yuma, we took a slight detour off the interstate to go through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. In a previous visit to southern California we had been to the northern section of the park. The southern section is less populated and it was easy to find a place to take a short hike and bask in the desert sunshine.

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
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Hike to a California Fan Palm Oasis.

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Between Anza-Borrego and San Diego are the Laguna Mountains, which were a hiking destination for one of our days in San Diego.  As we drove on the Sunrise Highway that leads into the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area, our first stop was an overlook with a view east towards Anza-Borrego.  It is also a point where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the highway.

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Viewpoint from Laguna Mountains looking towards Anza-Borrego.

In addition to a 15-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Recreation Area map showed many other options for interconnecting loop trails to explore.
We picked out a section with the intention of hiking 5 or 6 miles to a “lake” and then maybe doing a short section on the Pacific Crest Trail. But we had problems following the map and the 5 or 6 miles turned into a 9-mile loop. By the time we got back to the car we were too tired to do any more trails.

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Hike in Laguna Mountains Recreation Area.
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Remnant of one of the lakes along the trail.
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Looking west through the haze from one of the ridges we could see downtown San Diego.
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A bird called the acorn woodpecker drills holes in Ponderosa Pine trees to create granaries for storing food.

The day that we hiked at Los Penasquitos Canyon we found ourselves competing for the trails with the many mountain bikers, as everyone seemed to be out enjoying the warm weekend weather.

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Off the main trail at Los Penasquitos, but it did avoid mountain bikers.

Our San Diego experience wouldn’t be complete without some time at the beaches. We enjoyed viewing the steep cliffs at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.
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For more of a hiking opportunity we spent an afternoon on the trails at Torrey Pines State Reserve.
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Then there was a morning spent at San Diego’s famous Balboa Park, a foggy walk another morning at Cabrillo Point and some afternoon strolls along the beaches to watch the surfers and sunbathers. With so much to see, there were sights that we missed, but I’m sure there will be other winters that we will come here as an escape from the cold.
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Lost Dutchman

I’m really enjoying the Arizona sunshine, but, unfortunately, today’s hike was a bit much for Lee.

Just kidding. We both enjoyed our hike at Lost Dutchman State Park in the Superstition Mountains. Maybe this poor fellow is the lost Dutchman.

When we left Albuquerque yesterday morning it was in another round of scattered snow showers. I don’t think that storm amounted to much, but I know it’s not as warm and sunny there as it is here in Arizona.

Our stop in Phoenix is just for one day, as we continue on tomorrow for our San Diego destination. We haven’t been to Lost Dutchman before and it turned out to be a good choice for a day hike, not too far from the city. Of course, there were a lot more people on the trails than what we see in New Mexico. But there’s plenty of room to roam for both hikers and horseback riders.