Jamul Mountains HP P1K
San Miguel Mountain P1K

Dec 27, 2012

With: Jackie Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2

I only had a few days in the San Diego area over the Christmas holiday, so any hiking was going to be limited. In fact, one day was all I would manage. I had the idea of doing three nearby P1Ks on the same day, the two given here plus Lyons Peak. My daughter expressed an unusual interest in joining me, so I pared down my expectations and dropped the peak that has private property issues - that would only make her nervous and we didn't need that. The Jamul Mountains are a small range that don't seem quite deserving of the title, but nonetheless make any decent list of California Ranges. The rolling hills are mostly covered in chaparral, not thickly but enough that you're grateful for the trails. The trees are few and far between. The area used to be overrun with OHV enthusiasts, but these were kicked out when most of the range was made an ecological preserve (not clear what critical ecology is being preserved, but I wasn't going to argue about it). The network of dirt roads and tracks are still mostly there, but now only open to foot and bicycle traffic. With the help of Google satellite and street views, I found an entrance on the NW side along Proctor Valley Rd where we started shortly after 9:30am.

Nearly flat at the start, the 2.5mi hike to the summit involved just over 1,000 feet of elevation gain, not a trivial amount. It had been a few days since it last rained, leaving the trails and roads we plied damp but firm, not wet and muddy. The route follows along the edge of an encroaching suburban neighborhood before moving south away from the housing and into more open terrain. We climbed onto the long North Ridge which we followed all the way to the highpoint. Jackie had only done one other outing with me in all of 2012, and that was back in May. She had vague feelings of guilt over this and was attempting to rectify these feelings by joining me today. Though she stays in decent shape with volleyball nearly year-round, she's not in particularly great hiking shape and it showed, to no great surprise to anyone but herself. Somehow she probably just expected that being older (13yrs, now) and taller would naturally make everything easier than she remembered it to be. Not so. She didn't like having to take rest breaks which I had no objections to, particularly because she knew she was the only one of us that really needed to. As the trail grew steeper, she complained further about the loose rocks, the scratchy brush, the lack of shade and the excess of it (when a cloud overhead temporarily blocked the sun). It devolved into a rant about hating everything there was about hiking. She even wanted to scream (I told her to go ahead) but was afraid someone might hear her. It got so that I started to laugh and asked her why she even bothers to join me once or twice a year. "Because I want to be a good daughter." We both laughed about that. At least her heart is in the right place. It was actually a very fine morning, a bit chilly but nice for hiking with mostly clear skies and peaceful, country views. I enjoyed having her with me and somehow the complaining made it more endearing.

The summit was marked by a stake without a register of any sort. There is a nice view of San Miguel Mtn to the west that I pointed out to Jackie. "I don't think I'm going to do that one, if that's okay," she offered. We were about an hour in reaching the summit and the same amount of time for the return which used a slight variation that followed the North Ridge a bit further to the boundary with the neighboring houses. While she didn't have to do the hike to San Miguel Mtn, she would have to endure my doing so, which she was perfectly happy with, more so since she had her Nintendo DS to occupy herself with while waiting for me in the car. We drove south on Proctor Valley Road and then into more new suburban neighborhoods on the south side of San Miguel Mtn. A sign here almost suggests that the area is closed to foot traffic, but I think it refers to travel off the wel-defined access road. In any event, I followed the powerline road up the hill to the transmission tower set atop San Miguel's South Ridge.

It was only upon reaching the ridgeline that I gave that sign more thought. Here the city of Chula Vista was setting aside an area as a "Sensitive Habitat Area." One the east side was a brand new neighborhood being developed, with various phases of occupied homes, others under construction, and newly cleared pads being readied. A few hundred yards to the west is a community golf course, leaving this narrow strip, essentially the top of the South Ridge, as a preserve. One doesn't get the feeling that Chula Vista really takes the idea of Open Space very seriously. There is a great deal of sprawl in the San Diego area. One can only hope that more of the undeveloped spaces can be saved before the residents come to regret not doing more sooner.

I followed an unmaintained, but well-defined trail north to the summit of San Miguel. Along the way I came across a handful of other parties making the same hike (or slight variations - there are other starting points one can use that are somewhat longer). A flag waving atop Pt. 1,905ft caught my attention and I took a few minutes to pay it a side visit. There is a good view of the lower Mother Miguel Mtn to the southwest, the San Diego Bay in the distance, as well as a view to Otay Mtn to the south with Mexico beyond it. It took me just about an hour to reach the fence-enclosed summit with an array of communication towers tucked safely inside. Razor wire atop a high fence discourages trespassing, but I found a large gap under the fence that was easy to crawl through to visit the highpoint and benchmark inside (I only found a reference mark, possibly the benchmark had been removed by the construction of the towers). There were other parties taking in the views outside the fence as I took a few photos before retreating.

Jogging most of the way back, it took just over half an hour to return. I was later than I had told Jackie to expect me, largely because I thought the outing would be similar to the Jamul hike, but in fact it had twice the gain and some extra mileage, to boot. Wrapped up in her handheld gaming experience, she didn't seem to notice I had gone past schedule. That was probably a good thing. My guess is that she'll forget about all those things she complained about in another six months and we'll have another go at it. Gotta love a daughter who keeps trying.

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