Elevation Gain: 552ft
100 Peaks Challenge 2021 Peak #14
Elevation Gain: 263ft
100 Peaks Challenge 2021 Peak #15
(This is in Afoot & Afield – #36 – but we took a shorter route.)
Today was another day of modifying our plans due to weather. Our original plan was to try again on “true” Mount Gower. I’d attempted this as my very first peak of the challenge and was unsuccessful due to the bushwhacking. As I mentioned in that blog posting, I later found an alternate route to try, and we’d planned on giving it a go. We changed our minds given the rain we got yesterday out of concern that the trail might be muddy and slippery. In hindsight it probably would have been fine, but there’s no rush; Mount Gower isn’t going anywhere.
As an alternative, Susie suggested hitting Denk Mountain & Double Peak. I had not done much research for these yet, because they are close to the coast and I figured I’d save them for the summer. I knew they were short, and after our epic day yesterday that would be welcome. I also knew they were in the Carlsbad / San Marcos area, so I’d grouped them together with a couple of other short-ish climbs in that area. My original thinking was to do them all together on a long day sometime later in the year, and get the drive over with.
I do not know this area very well. Without traffic my map told me it’d only take 45 minutes to get there, but as an East County San Diego resident, somehow North County seems a world away. Driving 1.5 hours east on the freeway to get to the desert I’ll do at the drop of the hat; but you want me to drive to NORTH COUNTY???? Are you CRAZY???
The two peaks we hit today are the northeastern-most peaks on the list – there are several further north but they’re all east of the 15. A few other peaks are in this corner of the county – Battle Mountain, Mount Israel, and Bernardo Mountain – so we’ll still have to come back to get them at some point; but it’s good to have at least these two INCONVENIENTLY LOCATED hikes out of the way.
The first peak, Denk Mountain, is a lovely well-maintained hillside in a Carlsbad neighborhood. There are a few trailheads to choose from, and we took the Switchback Trail, which starts up from Corte Romero Road. As the name suggests, it zigzags gradually across the hillside to the summit. After yesterday’s constant need for navigation and watching our footing on steep, loose scree, it was nice to be able to relax and follow a well-marked, well-graded trail. The top was a wide-open area with a picnic table and expansive views of the Batiquitos Lagoon and the ocean beyond.
We also had a great view of our next target: Double Peak. We made quick work to get back to the cars and had a powwow on which route to head for – Double Peak is another pretty neighborhood hill, but this is one that you can drive to. I’m not opposed to ticking a peak off the list by driving up it, but I’ve already decided that I’d like to hike at least a mile (round trip) for all of them, as it seems more “in the spirit” of the challenge. On the other hand, the option described in trip #36 of Afoot & Afield is a four-mile hike with 1000 feet of elevation gain. We ended up choosing a happy medium – we did not drive to the peak, but we kept the hike short. On the walk up the gravel sidewalk to the peak were a few locals getting some exercise and enjoying the cool weather. The summit features several picnic tables, a telescope for a closer look at the viewpoints, and an elegant tree lending ambiance.
Ok so the drive was really not too bad. Maybe I’ll head up here again sometime and see what else there is to explore!