Black Canyon Road to Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail
Our class gathered along a rarely traveled road in Santa Ysabel, surrounded by trees, fields, mountains, animals, and other plants. Under the bright sun, we began our hike that would pass through several mountain sides and valleys. I am happy to say that each new day of hiking, is my best day- no less for today.
The brilliant sun enhanced the scenes along our hike. I took almost double the number of photos and video than normal! As we traveled from oak woodland to chaparral, we came across a wide variety of plants and animals, all interacting so gracefully. This interaction (animals to nature, nature to humans, humans to animals), cannot be described merely through textbooks. These hikes have proven that to myself and my classmates.
Today's hike almost entirely traveled along the sides and valleys of large mountains. We could almost always see the trail before us, winding along the mountainside, and the the thick mass of plants below us in the mountain's valleys. We dipped through both of these often, admiring the different plants, animals, and sloping sides as we walked. We spotted many animals such as red tailed hawks, rabbits, squirrels, spiders, fire ants, and gnats. We also saw several rare and interesting plants! These include poison oak, engelman oak, agaves, several flowers and brushes, and more. This trail, in my opinion, has been the most beautiful so far.
As I prepare for tommorow's hike, full of unmapped trails, I hope that our class' efforts will someday help the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy build trails for these areas. The scenes I witnessed today were gorgeous, and I hope that more will be encouraged to visit it through our efforts.
- Erina Chavez
Student of the Adventure Team
Day 4 out on the trail was an interesting one, and the furthest hike from our school that we've done so far. We started off on Black Canyon Road, which is just a dirt road that starts near an abandoned store or house of some sort. It started about an hour later than most days. We also saw a lot of cows and horses at the trailhead.
Once we began on the hike Dr. Patton, my teacher, needed to borrow my phone because he didn't have service to take attendance.
We walked through the oak woodland biome until we walked through a very clear spot where the biomes changed. It turned into chaparral at a border of about 100 yards. We continued along the dirt road, and we saw bulldozers digging up dirt along the path we were walking. About halfway through the trip, we dipped down into the canyon and ate lunch.
It was funny to me because two of my classmates thought that they got poison oak poisoning. Everything was fine though in the end, but they did cause quite a scene. I also did the usual blister first aid during that lunch break.
We came up to the other side of the canyon and walked along another dirt path. It was around 2:30 at that point, and I already knew I wasn't going to get home on time. I also had a brother at school that needed to get picked up, so that made me a bit stressed out on the trail.
We walked for another good two hours and then the hike was pretty much over. Due to the fact that we were around 11 direct miles away from the cars, it was going to take a while for the shuttle cars to come back and forth. I was one of the lucky ones that got to stay back and just mess around with my classmates. When we first were left there with Mr. Leader, we weren't all that crazy. But slowly, things picked up and we were playing baseball with branches and rocks. Later we had chicken fights (which I was really good at), and foot races. I foot raced Erina Chavez, and sorry Erina and her fans, but I totally beat her.
After that, the cars pretty much came and picked us up. It was kind of sad on the way to school, because the road we took went right by my house, but I had to pick my car up from school. It took me about two hours to get from the mountain to school to home.
I'm not complaining though, because I was one of the lucky ones that got to hang out with my classmates.
Bandy Canyon Trailhead to Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead
We have ventured further and further from the city, and closer to untouched mountainous plains and wildlife, throughout the last few days. The drastic differences between yesterday and today's hike was very shocking! We began today's hike under full sun, along a dirt road, beside an orange orchard in San Pasqual. As we walked along the orange trees, I breathed in deep scents of citrus. The scent, I feel, helped a lot of my classmates to wake up and gather more energy for the following hours of hiking. Besides this, I saw large fields of growing agriculture, towering mountains and hills, new plants, and animal footprints along the entire length of our trail. Today's trail was amazingly beautiful, and I wish my heat exhaustion wouldn't have gotten in the way of me enjoying it entirely. I'm very proud to be working with the conservancy, because a trail like today's should stretch across the entire length of the watershed (crest-to-coast!).
I noted that some of today's plants seemed much more heat resistant than ones from the days before. The leaves were lighter in color, and often branched off of red twigs and branches. Trees foliage expanded further, and were less dense, as if to enlarge it's sun-absorbing surface area. Roots rested closer to the surface of the ground, often slashing through the trail. Plus, some plants were releasing it's seeds as we hiked! One in particular was a willow, who's white snow-like seed puffs graced our path on more than one occasion. The plants I saw today were very intriguing, for they seemed to have adapted to the heat extremely well!
Not only plants, but animal life seemed to come alive along this trail. I saw several different birds, spiders, ants, and other insects, as well as horses, coyote tracks, and lizards. When I began this hike, I didn't expect the different lands to have such strikingly different plant/animal life. Plus, for one area to be much more obviously biologically healthier than another.
We're only half way through this hike, and I am noticing how important the last few days of hiking has been for me, my class, and the conservancy. I am very excited for the next few days as we embark deeper into San Diego's wildlife.
- Erina Chavez
Student of the Adventure Team
Today, we started our hike in San Pasqual Valley. San Pasqual Valley is home to the Wild Animal Park (that's what I grew up with, I will never call it the Safari Park) as well as the historic San Pasqual Battlefield. The Battle of San Pasqual is re-enacted around early December every year.
Anyway, we drove out past the battlefield near the orange groves right before you start climbing highway 78 to Ramona. This was an interesting hike for me, because I pass through San Pasqual Valley almost every day. When I look out the window of the car, everything looks so small and insignificant. The scale of the valley really set in after I got out of the car to look around, and I thought, "Wow, this place is big". Before we got started on the hike, my friends and I were playing hacky sack or whatever. I'm not too good at it, especially in my cowboy boots. I have to say we messed around for a good thirty minutes while we waited for everyone else to make it.
Then the hike started. It was interesting to see where we started from, because we were right next to an orange grove. From what I know, the type of Oranges they were growing are not native to California. Even if they are, it was weird to see such a clear border between where wildlife grew and where human grown plants grew. We started off dead center of the valley, but we walked off to the south side of the valley and walked along the road for a little bit.
After a break, we climbed Raptor Ridge. There weren't any dinosaurs. Or they were hiding from us. Raptor Ridge wasn't too difficult of a climb for me. We walked uphill for about a mile, and then we stopped to eat lunch. I had nuts and fruit and water. And the maple cookies, which I shared with my friends. I'm such a nice guy.
After climbing Raptor Ridge, we found ourselves hiking around the strawberry fields. I could see tiny little red spots which I assumed were the berries themselves, but I couldn't be too certain. Halfway through the strawberry fields, I tended to some blisters and hotspots that my friends and classmates managed to acquire. I often get asked, "How do you not have blisters right now?".
For the record, I've said this a lot but: I wear a lot of socks. Seriously, the drought California is in could probably be traced back to the laundry I do after backpacking trips. Back to the topic at hand. I wear three socks per foot. It's impossible for me to get a blister that way. Blisters are formed from the friction between the skin on your foot and the inside material of the boot. Wearing three socks should do the trick and make your feet not hurt as much.
Even if you do have three socks on, and you feel an itching sensation, don't be afraid to stop. It's called a hotspot, and not the thing you're thinking of that comes with most modern phones. If you put a piece of moleskin on top of a hotspot before it becomes a blister, you can save yourself a lot of pain.
After tending to all the blisters, I noticed that I was out of water. Tomorrow, I will need to get an extra water bottle before heading out into the great outdoors.
After the excitement of the strawberry field, we were at the end of our hike.
I woke up this morning a bit sore from our first day. I was hoping that it would wear off by the time we started but it did not. But, as soon as we started walking, it became less and less apparent. As we strided along the road, my soreness disappeared thanks to the company of my friends and teachers. I have noticed that this hike distracts me from the pain. Being in nature makes the pain less apparent. I can only hope that the next few days are as great as today. This hike is not only about nature, but about making connections with our teachers and fellow students. I have already begun to notice the new conversations. Today I was able to talk to people I had never talked to before. The bonding experience is unreal and I am excited to see how close we become as a team by the end of this breathtaking adventure.
Del Dios Gorge to San Andres Drive
Day 2 started off strong with cool weather, a great pace, and energetic hikers. As we hiked through well groomed dirt trails that winded through valleys and hills surrounding a rushing stream, we knew we were in for a treat. The scenery was gorgeous and challenged the views from the day before. Being a videographer, I took countless photos and videos. As we continued up and around hills of this gorgeous scenery, we slowly made our way through a variety of scenes. One of the defining features about today's hike was the range of different biomes we hiked through. From chapparel to riparian to salt marsh, all of our inner explorers came alive. We documented interesting plants and animals, wade through streams, and scoured up large inclining slopes. All of this was exciting to me, and left me wanting more.
Unlike the beautiful scenes we witnessed through the untouched nature, about half of our hike today was through urban areas. In other words, hiking alongside large paved roads, buildings, and well-groomed fields of grass. Part of our hike is aimed to help the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy be able to create an uninterrupted wildlife trail from the Volcan Mountain crest to the Del Mar beach coast. By walking through urban areas today, I understood the importance of this goal and our part in helping manifest it.
Overall, today was great for me to get in the motion of things, and realize our class' importance to the conservancy. This heightened my own personal goals as a hiker and videographer. I am very excited for tomorrow!
- Erina Chavez
Student of the Adventure Team