Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunset Trail, Laguna Meadow, and More

A couple weeks ago, two friends and I set out on a Jim Duggan adventure to the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego - and an amazing adventure it was. Jim is a horticulturalist for the Getty Museum Central Garden, a wonder of the art and plant world, and an expert on San Diego hiking. I can remember the first time I looked over the edge to the Getty Central Garden, a Wow! experience, unforgettable like where were you when you heard Kennedy died.

Everyone goes to the Anza Borrego desert for early spring flowers. How many know about the spectacular mountain meadows and hillsides of the Lagunas in springtime? Our mission was Noble Canyon in late April to hike and see the flowers.  The original trail was put in by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's.  Why aren't we putting people to work these days with lasting projects like this?


We set off through  pine and oak forests, Kathleen (pink shirt) covered head to toe due to severe allergy to poison oak, Jim in his trademark shorts regardless of rattlesnake risk.  While our trail head was Penny Pines leading onto the Noble Canyon trail, Jim cut off at one point to our destination, the Sunset Trail skirting Laguna Meadow.

We climbed to a ridge with view to a beautiful valley below which may be Filaree Flats. 

Still everywhere is evidence of the wildfires that raged through this area almost a decade ago.  I worried about all the critters that must have been crisped, but Kathleen reassured me that many smaller animals went underground, the larger ones were able to flee, and not many carcasses were found after the fire.

Life renews itself in the spring., like these sprouting black oak leaves.  The very baby ones are still red.

Farther on, the long Laguna Meadow opened up and I got a Wyeth Christina photo of Debra.

After heading into the forest ridge down to Big Laguna Lake in the distance, we headed back along the edge of the meadow, Jim and Kathleen stopping to examine, photo and note the botany of the area.  Deb said later she was grateful for their stops.  He's a hard guy to keep up with.

 I took a few flower photos of my own,

we headed back to the trail head, and climbed into the car to head north on Sunrise Highway.  Hillsides on both sides of the road were filled with Ceanothus, the California version of lilacs, and magenta western redbud. How many times can you say Wow!

We got out again at the Pedro Fages Historical Marker,

which reads,

On October 29, 1772, Colonel Pedro Fages headed east from San Diego searching for army deserters.  It was the first entry by Europeans into Oriflamme Canyon.  From there, Fages and his men travelled on through Cajon Pass, around the Mojave and the Central Valley, and eventually reached Mission San Luis Obispo.  As a result, he discovered the Colorado Desert and the San Joaquin Valley.

Whoever placed this marker was clearly having a Columbus discovered America moment.

Colonel Pedro Fages commanded the original Spanish army sent to stake a claim in California.   Along with Father Junipero Serra, they all climbed the Presidio hill in 1769 and planted the cross for Spain.  

You gotta wonder about a guy willing to head this far out into uncharted- for them - territory looking for a few deserters.  I wondered how they made their way, fed themselves,  and kept on track until I read this letter written by Don Pedro to Don Jose de Galvez.  If you're from San Diego, take the time to read this part of our history.   You've also gotta wonder about anyone who would desert in an unknown land into the back wilderness of San Diego County.

An old road could be seen going east, crossing into Oriflamme Canyon, used by travelers and stage coaches in the 1800's, but we turned west along an unnamed trail with wonderful tree skeletons,

and a view toward Cuyamaca Reservoir.

We were all walked out for the day, ready to turn back, when Jim pointed out a stripe through the valley below.

"Part of the old road where it turned to go into San Diego", he said.  

History, it's everywhere.


Kappa no He said...

Oh, how I've missed your adventures! I'm trying to get back to keeping up my blog and visiting friends. I've missed you. Love the trip you took. Those white flowers are breathtaking.

Pat said...

Seeing photos like these, I'm wondering why you feel the need to hike anywhere else in the world. :)