I convinced the family to forgo Black Friday for a hike along the Iron Mountain trail. This is a natural treasure just beyond the city of Poway and not far from my suburb. For those interested, go to the end of Poway Road and turn right on Rt. 67 or go to the end of Scripps Poway Parkway and turn left on Rt. 67. Look for the cars parked on the road near the trailhead.
We ended up getting a late start due to a serious lack of water pressure in the house after we got back from Thanksgiving in "The OC," my parents' place in Orange County. It was sunny and warm Friday morning but quite manageable by the time we lined up along the road with at least a dozen other cars and set out around 9:30.
Make no mistake, this well-groomed trail requires a lot of careful maneuvering around boulders, rocks and pulverized pebbles constantly undermining your footing. And it's a fairly steep climb, upping heart rates in an instant. We saw all different ages and body types trekking up and down, and I eyed a few trail runners with camelbacks. My hat's off to them. I greatly enjoyed myself but by the time we got to a crossroads, we elected to head to the closer Ramona Overlook (pictured above). Gilbert's goal now is to be in good enough shape to join me when I climb to the top of Iron Mountain on New Year's Day.
Our chosen destination was lined with charred remains of the disastrous Cedar fire two years before, yet nature also appeared to be rebounding beautifully. And, as a bonus for not taking the more popular and more arduous path, we had the place pretty much to ourselves.
I think we timed it well because heading down we encountered a lot more hikers just starting out. Clouds moved in and the wind picked up. We ended up doing four miles in a little under two hours. It could have been quicker if I'd led the way, but I'm not complaining. It gave us plenty of time to take in the rock formations and surprisingly dense vegetation. And, hey, nobody was attacked by a mountain lion, my No. 1 fear when in the wild here.
And how did we celebrate our Friday morning feat? By blowing all those expended calories at Carl's Jr. on the way home. At least this time I held off on the fries.