Mt. Gower SDC

Tue, Dec 28, 2010

With: Jackie Burd

Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Map Profile
later climbed Sat, Dec 24, 2011

Jackie wanted to join me for a hike while we were in San Diego, so I picked a moderate peak for the SDC list in Mt. Gower. It's located almost dead center in the county, about five miles southeast of Ramona. There is a description in Schad's book for a hike starting at the Gunn Stage Rd TH in Swartz County Park, but it does not indicate a trail to the summit and if fact discourages it due to heavy brush. Summitpost describes several options including a start from the Gunn Stage Rd TH, with another option starting from Sarda Ct in the suburban community of San Diego Estates. It was this second route that we drove to at the leisurely hour of 9:30a.

A short road leading out of the cul-de-sac serves as the driveway for one of the residents as well as the access road for a water tank a short distance up the hill. There are no signs to indicate a public right of way, but there appears to be one, as described. The gate just past the house was left open by a service vehicle that drove in just before we started. It is easy for pedestrians to walk around the right side of the fence when closed. Then it is an easy matter along a use trail that skirts the left side of the fence surrounding the water tank and on up the hill. Eventually the use trail meets up with the regular trail that comes over from Gunn Stage Rd.

It was a delightfully sunny day after more than a week of overcast skies with much rain a week earlier. The trail was dry, the chaparral and grasses were coming alive again, we watched a hawk soaring overhead. A rabbit darted through the brush and Jackie ran after it to get a better look. We followed the trail for several miles until it sort of peters out some distance below and southwest of the western summit. We found some helpful ducks and segments of a use trail leading up the slabby rock found on this side. It's a relatively easy scramble that both Jackie and I thought was pretty fun. We reached the western summit at 11a, thinking it was the highpoint. A register left by some members of the local fire department fooled us into thinking it was the top. To the east was a broader, second summit (perhaps two) that looked lower because of the higher Cuyamaca Peak that rose behind it. I had a map in my pocket with the correct summit marked, but never bothered to look at it, convinced as I was. It was only a week later that I realized the error.

We still had good fun in our ignorance. There were a few fun boulders for Jackie to climb around on and the views were pretty fine too. We could even see snow on San Jacinto, more than 50 miles to the north. After more than half an hour lazing about the summit, we headed back down via the same route. All in all a fun hike with Jackie, and she seemed to heartily agree!

It was some days later when I discovered we had not actually reached the highpoint. This was probably a good thing, as the bushwhacking that was needed in the subsequent attempt would not have been at all to her liking.


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