After the Clairemont Mesa hike I spent the rest of the day chomping advil and rolling out my muscles and tendons with this do-hicky. I woke up sore as usual but I was determined to get out there again and take advantage of the June gloom before it gives way to full nuclear summer. I drove a short distance to Mission Dam area in Santee and parked on Father Junipero Serra Tr. I walked a short distance to the dam parking area and took in the fragile beauty of the riparian area. I spotted a moth at least the size of my hand, if not bigger, caught in a massive orb weavers web. The size of both the web and the moth were seriously impressive.
I am always in awe when I come to the dam that this gorgeous place is so close to my house. I am truly blessed and need to spend more time here.
I paralleled the river for a short time passing all manner of look out points and information kiosks before crossing a bridge and heading out on the Oak Canyon Trail, one of my favorite places in all of Mission Trails. I took my time, admiring the day and focusing on my breathing and footing in a sort of walking meditation.
I came to this gnarled oak tree and recalled an article I had read recently about trees that were trained by native americans as saplings to grow in an unusual way in order to mark the trail. I wonder if this is the case here? It would make sense I suppose, for the Kumeyaay to want to mark the path thru the grass lands to the water. I'm not sure if this tree is old enough to qualify but it is still kind of cool to think about.
After passing thru grass valley the trail slips into the canyon leading you across a rocky route just above the river bed. I have been enthrawled with A Parliament Of Owls Youtube page lately and I was scoping out the area for places I would put my Reconyx camera ... if I could afford one.
I looked at the canyon walls for signs of life and remembered the last time I did this route and how exciting it was to watch two coyotes ambush a mule deer. Nothing so spectacular today but I was pleased the crows were trusting enough to reveal the location of their nests that were tucked into the cliff face.
I pushed thru the narrowest section of the canyon with its tributaries and rock falls before coming to the junction for the Fortuna saddle service road. I stopped at the cross roads and thought about continuing on the Oak Canyon trail and taking Fortuna from the North or attempting what is affectionately called The Wall by the MTRP volunteers.
I opted to take the wall and was determined to make it an enjoyable and successful experience! This meant I hiked at a snails pace and stopped at every flume to rest and stretch.
I think it took me a half hour to do the half mile/500 foot climb. I was passed by two older gentlemen, and I was more than happy with that!
When I reached the top my feet were only singing, not screaming, and I was so so so happy to be on the saddle!
I sat down in the dirt for a while and drank some water while snapchatting my friends and family that I had made it up the wall! I realize it is a small hill but sometimes overcoming the mole hills is tougher than the mountains.
I brushed myself off and headed for the North peak. I passed one of the gentlemen who passed me on the way up. He asked if I was going to do South Fortuna too and I told him I'd have to see how this one went first! He smiled and took off toward the south peak. I climbed up the beige stripe I'd longingly looked at from my car everyday and was happy to be there. I was slow, and sat on every flat rock I came across even when I wasn't tired. It was nice to sit with my eyes closed and be in the quiet beauty of outside.
I crested what I thought was the summit only to remember that North Fortuna has a sense of humor with her many false summits. I was not discouraged but I did eat a shot block and pressed on to the top.
At last! I made it! It took me a little over two hours to go something like 2 miles but I did it! I took the obligatory selfie and signed the register before finding a more comfortable place to sit. Who knows! Maybe I'll do the official 5 peak challenge that everyone is doing now!
I looked over to the last blip on North Fortunas ridgeline and wondered if I should make it a loop hike. I looked at the clouds and noticed the marine layer was rapidly dissipating and opted to just make a beeline out of there. It was near 11am and I knew if the cloud cover broke it was going to get hot fast.
I scooted my way down the road and even on the way down had to stop at the flumes. The grade made my feet and knees burn and I tried to slalom down to avoid sliding on the loose gravel.
As I reached the Oak Canyon trail the marine layer officially broke. The light in the canyon was beautiful, but glaring and only then did I realize I had forgotten my sunglasses.
I started to feel nauseous and realized I had not eaten nearly enough for lugging myself up that wall. When will I ever learn that I need to eat relative to the activity? I sat under a gorgeous oak tree for a minute and drank some water. I thought about eating a shot block or bar but knew the state my stomach was in it would only come back up.
The bummer about urban hiking is that it's crowded, so if you're going to barf, you're going to have witnesses.
The hike officially stopped being fun as I crossed the bridge back to the dam. I started the road walk back to my truck in the noonday heat and I swear it was like someone had stretched out that section of road twice as long as when I came. It took forever to get to the truck! When I finally did I jumped in and cranked up the a/c and threw my shoes on the back seat.
I headed home with a smile on my face and a limp in my step.
At 1 MPH, I'm pretty sure I set the record for the slowest ascent of N. Fortuna but it was also the most meaningful.