Monday, November 27, 2006
Nature on the Rebound
We opted this year to spend our annual post-Thanksgiving family hike in East County, specifically in an area ravaged three years ago by the Cedar fire. The blaze would eventually consume a third of San Diego County, kill 14 people and come within a a couple of hundred yards of our own home well northwest of here. I was, of course, running when disaster hit.
This one would have been easy to run, but my fellow hikers like to linger. I did too that weekend, given an earlier blood donation left me lagging physically for several days. At least this time my multivitamin and last-minute spinach-stuffing got me past the iron screening.
We took two trails. One riperian, where we were cooled by a canopy of twisty oaks and the trickle of a nearby stream. The other was up to a rocky summit that proved far more difficult to reach, just as a hiking guide had warned. The last stretch is pretty much slick slate and loose gravel, with nothing for shoes to grab for traction. And if you do make it past the sheet of rock, you're greeted by big boulders to cross on hands and feet.
In the distance, we heard a siren moving along Wildcat Canyon Road and my daughter yelled, "It's an omen. Don't go!" My husband and I pretended not to hear and started our ascent, while the girls settled on a nearby giant rock for a challenge. But eventually we realized our foolishness (I, for one, would never get back down without breaking yet another bone or rolling through prickly -- and protected -- chapperal). We wisely turned around and met up with our boulder climbers.
There are a couple of spots with signs explaining how 95% of the park and preserve were destroyed by the fire, which was started by a lost hunter in the wee hours of the morning. After reading that the new growth brought out mule deer and their natural predator, the mountain lion, I decided to pay close attention to all the animal poop. Even if this was billed as a leisurely hike, you can rest assured if I found big cat scat, I was going to run for it.