Friday, November 11, 2016

Japacha Peak Do-Over

The stupid Santa Ana winds are killing me at home. It's been almost 100 degrees at the beach for a couple of days and I can't deal. 
Seriously November. C'mon now.

I have been feeling super bazaar lately, with a lot of visual disturbances that are migraine like but with no pain. I feel generally out of body, and when I'm not blinded by sparkly lights, things look really big or really far away and sometimes I think I'm moving when I'm standing still. I went to the doctor and she didn't seem concerned, so I figure since its been going on for weeks, this is my life now and I need to get used to it. 

I was hoping some exercise would help get me grounded, so I took advantage of the cooler inland temps to get a hike in. I drove without a plan on where I was going and listened to old 90's rock super loud as I drove thru Mount Laguna. 

The only redeeming qualities of the Santa Ana's is that the air gets really clear between brush fires and you can see for a looooong way. 

I have been annoyed at myself for not being able to reach Japacha Peak. I'm tired of being fat and sick and not hiking like I used to. Before I knew it my subconscious took the wheel and I was back at the West Mesa trail head. I got a late start and headed up the fire road around 11am. I was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt, albeit still dizzy, and I made it up the road in record time for me.

I stopped to pee and noticed this cute little birdhouse hanging form a tree! 
In hindsight, I hope its a bird house and not a trail cam because if it is, it totally has pictures of me peeing. -_-

I didn't see as many tracks as I did the last time I was out here and I felt a little bit better about the hike.

But as the fire road turned to trail I kept hearing rustling in the bushes. It would happen while I hiked and stop when I stopped. Some I could attribute to birds and wind but others sounded much larger. I started to get 'the fear' and I thought it might be a good idea to play music on my phone so I could announce my presence to any unsuspecting mountain lions. I normally hate when people play music on the trail for all to hear, but on a Thursday afternoon I didn't think I was going to run into anyone else and bum their trip (even though I secretly hoped I would because I was scared).

I was grateful for the wind as it helped to keep some of the bugs at bay while I trucked thru a damp creek drainage. I was feeling tired but ok and pushed hard to make it to the top. 

Finally, after several long and winding switchbacks I crested the hill onto a small saddle. Cuyamaca peak came into view and I looked down on the west face that I had viewed from the bottom a few weeks before. You could totally summit from that side. It wouldn't be fun but it would be cool!

I turned my attention to the high point to the south. I knew it was going to be a bushwhack but I didn't realize how bad it would be. I spent a long time looking for some kind of use trail through the buckthorn but to no avail. Even Middle Peak, which is a bushwhack and a half, had a use trail. I got frustrated and just kind of charged into it, all the while cursing myself for wearing capris while my legs were being shredded by the plants. I made it up to a boulder pile but couldn't find solid footing. I looked around for some kind of summit marker or register box but found nothing. There was another slightly higher boulder pile a short ways away but my legs were scratched and itchy and I was just generally over it. 
This is my summit for today, I thought. Close enough, fuck it.

I climbed back down with no particular direction, just trying to find the route with the least possible contact with scratchy plants. When I got back to the saddle I sat on another boulder pile and ate a snack and drank some water. I was smart this time and brought three liters after cameling a fourth in the car and I definitely needed all of it.

It was just before 2pm but the shadows were already starting to get long (curse you time change) so I started my descent. My body was super duper sore and I knew it was going to be a slog but I rode the satisfaction of having made it to my destination, albeit approximately, most of the way down the switchbacks.

As the Burnt Pine trail met with West Mesa, I again started hearing noise in the brush that was too big to be birds. I was nervous so I turned up my music and looked behind me every now and then, scanning the brush for what might be following me. I wanted to know what it was just as much as I didn't, and it made me pick up my pace to an unnatural gait. The trail dropped into the creek drainage and I came across some very large, very fresh mountain lion scat next to tracks that led to the bushes and felt my stomach get tight.

Maybe I'm just being paranoid I told myself. I have been walking with a lot of fear these days since the break up. I keep telling myself it's due to a lack of confidence and self reliance and the only way out is through. I have to keep pushing myself to do the things that make me, Me, and work through the anxiety. After my self pep talk I let out a little woooooo! Which I hoped would be a motivator to myself and a detractor to whatever was watching me in the bushes and I high tailed it out of there.

Finally, the narrow brush lined trail met with the wide fire road and I felt a bit better about my odds. It was here I found a set of  very fresh bobcat tracks weaving in and out of my own and figured that was who was stalking me. 

I had a run in with a bobcat and her two kittens on the Airplane Monument trail a few years ago which isn't far from where I was. Sorry for the potato quality. Phones didn't have great cameras like they do now way back in 2012!

This one you can actually see mom on the top right. On that hike I decided to head back after I saw them because I wasn't sure how crazy mama bobcats will get over their kittens. She ended up stalking me by zigzagging the trail behind me, and in no secret kind of way either. I waited by a tree for a bit with my camera ready to see if I could catch her crossing, when all of a sudden one of the kittens popped out on the trail right by me. I kind of freaked out and stepped away and the kitten let out a little squeak and jumped back in the brush. I was close enough to the road by then that I didn't fear an altercation, but I still walked pretty fast back to my truck!
 But I digress, Back to this hike...

 I was pretty sore by the time I made it back to the truck and my eyes burned something fierce from all of the salt on my brow, but I didn't get eaten, so I had that going for me which was nice.

I drove home tired but satisfied at being one step closer to once again being comfortable in my own skin as a solo hiker.

If anyone has a gps track or directions to find the use trail to the summit register of Japacha please hit me up! I don't know if I'll attempt it again anytime soon but I kind of want to see how close I was to it!

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