Monday, September 23, 2013

South Fortuna Peak via Staircase - Monday Night Hikes!

This week's Monday Night Hike we decided to finish off Fortuna Mountain with a 5 mile hike up to the South Peak. After work, we ran home, readied our gear and met at the visitor's center trailhead at 6pm. Carlos brought his friend Maria and she was a blast to hike with!

We followed the visitor's center trail around to a river crossing where we rose steeply out of the canyon on a long fire road.

Finally, we topped out and met with the S-Curve Trail which headed down into another ravine. You've got to love San Diego trails; they gain a ton of elevation and then promptly lose it, only to gain it right back. Sheesh! 
We met a couple groups of hikers and a set of mountain bikers on the narrow trail and exchanged pleasantries. We enjoyed the alpenglow on the Mission Trails ridgeline and pressed on toward the staircase.

As we rounded a corner Josh hollered "look ahead!" We stopped and watched a large Mule Deer Buck running down the trail. Of course, he was faster than we could get out our cameras, but we enjoyed seeing his hoof prints, and those of a feathered creature, in the soft sand. 

The sun was rapidly setting as we began our final ascent. With the staircase looming in the distance we shifted into a slower pace and readied our legs for the burn.

We stopped at several intervals on the staircase to take in the views, locate the trail and catch our breath. On the side of the mountain you could see Point Loma, Downtown and the Coronado Bridge light up and come to life.

Carlos action figures coming soon. :-)

The stairs seemed never ending! 

Finally, we topped out at a false summit and gave each other half high fives. The stairs were a challenge! We continued up and took an alternate route looking for the summit marker. The views of the sunset were incredible and we saw nighthawks jumping from bush to bush.

At last! Hooray! A round of full high fives for everyone! We took pictures, sat down for a snack and did some scorpion hunting with the black lights. After the short break we dawned our headlamps and started the trek downward.

It wasn't difficult to spot the scorpions, as they were sitting out unabashedly in the middle of the trail!

Even though we didn't need the black light to find them, it is still so cool to see them glow!

The journey back provided us with an array of night time creatures. Scorpions, Stink Bugs, a Caterpillar, a Kangaroo Rat, another Mule Deer, a Black Widow, some Nighthawks and the lovely Wolf Spider with his diamond eyes sparkling in the brush.

We arrived back at the trailhead around 9pm after a leisurely hike down the hill. We gave each other another round of high fives and Maria went to see a friend while Josh, Carlos and I went to eat some well deserved Mexican food.

Another great Monday Night Hike!
Next week, Carlos picks the trail!

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