Total Mileage: ~3.5
Trailhead Map (32.856701, -116.742214)
I got up before dawn to drive out to Alpine to get an early start. It was nice to actually start hiking up a trail with the temperature in the 80’s, as opposed to being in the 90’s. I got about .75 miles up the mountain when I turned around and was treated to a great view of El Cajon Mountain washed in golden light as the sun rose over the other side of Viejas Mountain.
As I hiked up the steep rocky trail. I began to see tracks in the dirt. I thought that it was a dog print, but I realized that it would have been a pretty big dog. After watching the tracks follow the trail for a mile or so, they disappeared. Either the dog’s owner turned around, or it was from a mountain lion. It just seemed too big for a dog. [Now that I know my tracks better, it was definitely a mountain lion.- added July 2011]
As I followed the trail around the northern edge of the mountain, I was presented with a great view of the rolling San Diego backcountry all the way to Eagle Peak and Cuyamaca.
Once again, I was completely alone on the trail. I finally felt the rays of the sun on me as I scaled the ridge line. I began noticing some large spiders just off the trail. Once I got back home, I did some research and found out that it is called a Silver Garden Spider.
I followed the ridge and made the peak. I could see the Viejas Casino below me and the rock windbreak on the summit. There was an extraordinary amount of flies among the rocks. I searched around for a reason, but could not see anything. I saw several lizards scurrying among the rocks, taking advantage of the abundance of flies.
I descended back into the shade and had to take it easy on the way down. There were too many rocks on the very steep trail. I made my way back home in time for breakfast. The trail gains and loses about 1000′ per mile, which is pretty steep.