I'd been wanting for years to hike up to the Mount Woodson summit but never got an opportunity until yesterday. It was so worth the wait.
This is one of the more popular hikes in San Diego, but not nearly as popular as nearby Iron Mountain (which I've blogged about numerous times) or Cowles Mountain (which I've never done). That may be because it's not an easy trek, but it's not super difficult either. You just need some stamina, a lot of water and conditioned glutes and quads to truly enjoy this 7-plus-mile course.
|Boulder fields mark the course.|
Mount Woodson Trail is distinguished by the many boulder formations. It's fun, especially on the ascent, to give some of the big rocks names. One that didn't make it into the blog (at least in this post) is called "Butt Crack." Another is referred to as "Potato Chip" and featured in the photo below. Yes, it's as scary as it looks if you suffer from a fear of heights.
|No way am I doing that.|
But let's get back to the climb.
There are three distinctive parts to the trails. The start is at Lake Poway, which was teeming with fishermen when we all met up at the concession stand area.
|Lake Poway, just after dawn.|
You follow a trail around the lake and then start to climb in earnest at a kiosk that marks the opening to the Mount Woodson trail.
|About halfway up at this point.|
The mostly smooth and wide dirt pathway is great preparation for the third stage that includes a lot of stone steps. Not nearly like the obstacles and narrow passageways of Iron Mountain, but a bit of a pain on the way down. We noticed some boulders "shedding" like the one below and speculated on how it came to be.
|Deborah inspects nature's doing.|
But first a word about the summit. The satellite towers appear closer than they actually are until, of course, you are on top of them. You'll know you're there when you see the aforementioned "Potato Chip." There isn't much at the top, but it's a great place to stop, take in the panoramic views of Poway, Rancho Bernardo and other northern San Diego suburbs. You can also sit on a long log and dig into your food rations, as we did to celebrate making it.
|Sharon and Deborah|
Don't be surprised if you hear people coming up behind you. There's another, easier asphalt entrance on the other side of the mountain that is also popular. We early birds arrived before most, but the sometimes steady stream of hikers we passed on our way down meant the place would get crowded. It also can be cold with so little to shield the wind. Dress in layers.
What I loved most about this hike, in addition to, um, everything, was how different it seems on the way down. It was like a completely different experience despite merely retracing your steps because you see a new side to the rock formations and the vistas. We also had a change in weather, from sunny to cloudy that kept us moving. Once back at Lake Poway, you can stay on the beaten path or, as Mary and I did, head down to the shoreline and round the water to meet up with everyone where we started.
|Mary poses on the spring bridge at Boulder Beach.|
I was spent when we finished. My body ached. My head started to throb, thanks to pending rain that triggers my migraines. But I couldn't have been more content. On our way up, we passed a group of runners coming down. I knew one of them and marveled at his speed and endurance. But I also thought to myself: This is not a place to rush.
A day later, I've been wondering why some hikes are so special to me. And I've concluded it's as much because of the good company as it is the exceptionial terrain. We debate, we discuss, we stay quiet when we want. We look out for each other and we stop so others can catch up. We stay positive. We stay alert. And, I hope, we stay as healthy as we can so we can do this one again and again.