McGinty Mountain SDC

Tue, Feb 16, 2010

With: Ryan Burd
Jackie Burd
Sam Savini

Story Photos / Slideshow Map Profile

The kids were on Winter Break and we'd decided to drive the family down to San Diego to spend time with Grandma. We brought along a friend of Ryan's from school, a first for us in bringing extra passengers. Jackie had told me she wanted to go for a hike with me, so I recruited the other two to join us for a moderate outing to McGinty Mtn. The peak lies in the rolling, chaparral-covered hills east of San Diego that characterize the western half of the county. As is common in the area, urban development has encroached upon the peak, but fortunately public access is still available. I followed directions in Jerry Schad's book to an unsigned turnout/trailhead off Jamul Road south of the mountain that worked nicely. I would have been hard-pressed to find it without the guidance provided.

Our party of four started off enthusiastically with the exception of Ryan who would rather not have been on the outing. This hiking with Dad stuff was taking away valuable gaming time he had intended to spend with Sam during the week. Sam didn't seem to mind and was happy to be along, and I figured 3 out of 4 happy hikers was a good percentage.

The trail led up to a small saddle on the southwest side of our peak. A road came in from the northwest that led to a home built about 50yds away, but this option was not open to the public. Our trail began a series of moderate switchbacks that went 400ft up the side of the mountain before intersecting another dirt road that leads up the southwest ridge of McGinty. The kids were disappointed to find this cresting of the ridge was not in fact the summit and we were only halfway there. We passed rather closely to a few homes built high on the west side of the ridge. At first I thought that these homes might offer a shorter access to the summit (for future visitors, not us), but a fence around the properties on the uphill side made that impractical. The east side had better promise, but the dirt road led much lower, nearly to the elevation we'd started at anyway. Rather than look for other routes up this moderate mountain, the kids occupied their time with far more important tasks such as fashioning yucca walking sticks and playing in a mud puddle we found along the way.

It was unusually warm for mid-February, even for San Diego, probably 80F when we stopped around 11a for a break at the only grassy spot we found along the route. I was carrying all the Gatorade and water for the troops and had been plying them with refreshments starting after the first half hour. Ryan was starting to complain that his stomach didn't feel good. This was not a usual tactic for him so I suspected he might actually be telling the truth. Especially after announcing that he had to go to the bathroom and headed off into the brush to find a place to crouch. I looked at the others and whispered, "When do you think he's going to realize he has no toilet paper with him?" They started to chuckle at the same instance we heard a cry of, "Dad!!!"

Only a father can watch his son wipe his butt without getting disgusted, and we even got a lesson in about conserving toilet paper in the wild (I didn't have all that much with me). The whole idea of folding the paper over and reusing it after the first wipe was a completely novel concept to him, one he did not take to readily. But since I was the one handing out the toilet paper a few sheets at a time, he didn't really have much choice.

I had thought the bathroom exercise would do him well, but Ryan continued to lag. Either his heart was simply not into it or he was out of shape. Perhaps both. So while Sam and Jackie strolled merrily ahead, I kept myself positioned between them and our caboose, some distance behind us. Luckily we did not have far left to go, and not long after 11:20a we found our way to the highest point of McGinty. There were several rock croppings vying for the highest point and I checked them out before determining the southern one we had reached first was indeed the highest. We found no register among the rocks, but we did find some swell views of the surrounding countryside. We could see the tall buildings of downtown San Diego and the Pacific Ocean to the west and many of the chaparral-covered mountains in the other three directions. One could just make out the observatory atop Palomar Mtn far to the north, with the snows atop San Jacinto just visible even further behind it. I pointed out a few other peaks in the area I had climbed with the kids on previous occasions which seemed to bring out a sense of pride as they relayed to Sam a quick synopsis on one adventure or another.

We had more to drink and distributed granola bars that I had also brought in the pack. Ryan had hoped I'd brought something more substantial, but by now he should know that isn't the norm. There was only enough room on the summit rocks for the three of them if they sat close together which they did without qualm (it helped to have Sam between brother and sister). Jackie had collected a few small rocks to toss down at a lower rock in front of them, but was otherwise unsuccessful in getting the others to join in her game. After about 30 minutes of resting and whatnot, they were eager to start back down again.

Naturally the descent went far easier than the way up. Ryan was as jovial now as the others and they remarked more than once that "it's so EASY now!" It took us only an hour to cover the 2.5mi back to the car. By then Sam and the others were low on energy and the effects of the sun and altitude were evident in their weary faces. Luckily for all there was a 7-11 not ten minutes back along the road and the large Slurpees went far towards reviving their spirits. It was declared a fine success by all (Ryan, too - he's a sucker for post-hike Slurpees) as we drove back to Grandma's in San Diego. It was also a good warm-up for me before I headed off to Anza-Borrego for the next three days. A Win-Win for all involved.


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