DAY EIGHTY EIGHT
Wherever I go this year, I am going to have to figure out a place to hike in the area. Today, we went to visit my father in law who lives in Mountain Center, near Garner Valley. As you would imagine, it's not hard to find hikes in a place named Mountain Center.
I decided to hike up Lookout Mountain which I can see from my father in law's house. It's an official Sierra Club Peak section selection and I climbed it about fifteen years ago so I figure it's time to give it another shot.
My wife's dad tells me that they've been spotting a lot of mountain lions in the area and offers me his .44 Magnum or this spear that he made in this shop. I accept the spear but I'm afraid if I come upon any other hikers on the trail I'll scare them to death, so I leave it in the car. Thank God I didn't get killed by a mountain lion. My poor wife would've never heard the end of it.
You start the hike by heading south on the PCT from Highway 74. Someday, I hope to do the whole section to the Indian Flats Campground. Just not today.
I hiked up here a couple months ago in the snow when I left my kids and their friends to play. It is much easier going this time.
You get up the trail a bit and get a nice view of the surrounding mountains. This is looking down toward the San Ysidro Mountains and Coyote Canyon in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
The route up Lookout Mountain goes through the chaparral, which is some of the worst leg shredding stuff God ever created. You've got Ribbonwood (because it tears your legs to ribbons), scrub oak, manzanita and other various plants that are here just to make you bleed. I have to find the right route but this is not it.
Nor is this. I don't remember it being this far but I was younger when I came before and maybe I was just faster then. But with age, comes patience so I'll just keep going until I hit the right place.
I get to a point where it looks like it might go but after scouting it out, it's a dead end. Years ago I would have just bombed up it and left looking like I just crawled out of a vat of cats. I've learned one thing as I've gotten older. I like my legs with the skin intact.
I've gone too far. The wisdom of experience tells me that. Old guys know when to quit and turn back. Fortunately, my wife is not with me so I don't have figure a way of doing it without admitting my mistake.
I take one more attempt to climb up through the brush.
But I run into a wall of leg flayers. This is not going to work.
As I head back toward the trailhead I finally find the right way but it's dinner time and I don't want to miss that. When I came up the trail, I was too busy enjoying the view and totally missed where I was supposed to go. I vaguely remember doing the same thing fifteen years ago. Of course, as one ages, along with patience and wisdom, comes forgetfulness. But when I come up next time, at least I'll know what to look out for.