Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kicking Butt on El Cajon Mountain

It was a cool and foggy morning when Kathleen and I set off to bag the summit of El Cajon Mountain at El Capitan this weekend. East County being located in the Peninsular mountain foothills between Lakeside and Ramona, this is not usually a trek taken this late in the season when temperatures can be in the 90's. We had to cover 10 miles of rugged terrain before the heat set in. I was hoping to get a photo of El Cajon that would count toward my project of finding and hiking all the ranchos of San Diego.

We had a beautiful hike in, through corridors of California lilacs,

up and around and about the stone mountains,

past the remnants of the Cedar Fire that raged through here in 2003, burning 90% of the habitat.

"The Jeep" landmark, nice sculptural art for the area, looks to have been left there in the 1940's.

We chatted up the usual topics - the flora, what to do for a rattlesnake bite, where was the helicopter landing for all the injured hiker rescues you read about from this area - the last thing we wanted was again to be on News at 6 - until we reached the summit. We needed a little chatter. El Cajon Mountain with its steeps, boulders, chaparral, and distance is reviewed as the most kick-butt hike in the county.

Proof of arrival:

Unfortunately, I wasn't going to get a view of Rancho El Cajon through the fog.

On the way down, the fog cleared enough that I could get a shot of El Monte, but El Cajon city was so far off I wondered whether the El Cap had been part of the Rancho.

The afternoon brought the sun and blistering heat, but until the last couple miles I was still taking flower photos,

and finally, on the way out, a shot back at the behemoth that is El Capitan and the summit of El Cajon Mountain just up the ridge.

Rancho El Cajon was a huge ranch in the mid 1800's, including El Cajon city, Santee, Lakeside, Le Mesa and Flinn Springs. Did it include El Capitan? I think so. I could see Rancho del los Cochas just below in the valley, and I know a lot of Rancho El Cajon surrounded the little pig ranch. I think I feel a trip to the El Cajon Historical Society coming up.


Anonymous said...

Love the jeep

Anonymous said...

Great account! All of the advantages to being there without the effort... :)

Katharine said...

Jenbach - It was a stroke of genius to leave the jeep there as an art piece, but then also how would you get that thing back down the mountain.

Anon - There was enough effort to go around for everyone.

Pat said...

Ooh, the lilacs are beautiful! BTW, I think what Anon is saying is that she enjoyed experiencing the trek vicariously through your account...right, Janie? (It is you, isn't it?)

Timeless said...

In all my years growing up around El Cajon, Lakeside and Santee, I never once climbed that mountain. The closest I came was Barona Ranger Station camp ground.

We always called it El Capitan, not El Cajon Mountain. I just recently wrote a couple of pieces on my blog about adventures over at Rattlesnake Mountain off Pepper Dr. You know, the area where Sky Ranch Development is ? I can only imagine what developers must be thinking when they dream of ElCap-