The Thrill of Discovery

Lately, my blog posts have been few and far between. As many of you know, I have been a little busy with a hamburger restaurant in Escondido.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been taking some time out and enjoying the outdoors. Just not as much as I’d like. In my spare time, I’ve been doing my usual daydreaming about interesting places. I scour the maps, zoom in and out of Google Earth, searching for an interesting place. Could I camp there? Is there too much bushwhacking? Is it as flat enough for a tent as it looks?

Recently, my friend and I had reservations to stay overnight in a cabin at William Heise County Park. Unfortunately, he wasn’t feeling well enough to make the trek down to San Diego. I decided to go anyway and have a nice quiet time in one of my favorite areas of San Diego and visit two places that were on my list to explore.

I have done it before, visiting someplace off the trails; just an interesting feature that looked promising on the map. One time I went to Cemetery Hill and enjoyed the best sunset I had ever seen.

A lovely campsite in the wild

A lovely campsite in the wild

Another time, I went on a short overnight trip with a friend, returning to Sunshine Mountain, squeezing our tents into small areas between the chapparal. The stars were glorious and we saw plenty of wildlife.

A tent or two can fit almost anywhere

A tent or two can fit almost anywhere

This time, I first went off-trail, bushwhacking from time to time, but made it to a secluded spot with rolling grass. Our reasonably wet winter and spring had been kind to our backcountry. While many of our seasonal ponds and streams were still just damp, the grasslands were in excellent shape.

I pitched my tent and relaxed, enjoying the solitude and the views. I may have even dozed off for a bit. I heard nothing but the healthy afternoon breeze rattling the tent from time to time.

I found no signs of humans at this campsite

I found no signs of humans at this campsite

Once the sun started going down, I headed to the cabin at William Heise. I was instantly struck by the clamor of my neighbors. Playing loud music caused them all to shout at each other as I carried my gear inside and it wasn’t really quiet until about 11PM.

It was a really nice cabin and I slept well, but my heart was out in the grasslands from earlier in the day.

I lazily woke up, sleeping in for the first time since I could remember. After cooking breakfast on my backpacking stove, I headed out, eager to explore a new area, in hopes for the solitude that I knew I needed.

I found my entry point along a dirt road and headed in and up. I climbed some steep slopes, said hello to some grazing cows, and started following the twin tracks of a ranch road. The whole area was beautiful. I could camp almost anywhere, just as long as I was far enough back off of the road.

I searched for morteros, finding none. I sat on a rock in the shade and enjoyed the quiet, my eyes following the path of a low-flying red-tailed hawk as it searched for a squirrel to catch.

It was as beautiful as I thought it would be

It was as beautiful as I thought it would be

“I will come back here,” I thought. I wanted to see the stars from here and listen to nothing except the breeze.

Overall, I was filled with an elation, a sense of discovery. My curiosity caused me to seek out these places. I had scanned the maps for a way in and it paid off. Here I was, again sitting in an amazing place, all to myself.

I usually don’t write about my failed attempts to access a peak or meadow, or how the place I had in mind didn’t turn out to be a place worth visiting, but there are plenty. What was nice about this trip was that I was two for two. Both places were as amazing in person as they were in my head and on the map.

And for 24 hours, I didn’t speak to a soul, except for the ranger at William Heise County Park.

And that was exactly what I needed.

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