Beautiful, but Dumb.

Mount Woodson
Miles: 3.72
Elevation Gain: 1165ft
Gaia Track
100 Peaks Challenge #16 (provisional)
San Diego Six-Pack of Peaks #1 (provisional)

Climbing Mount Woodson this morning was like that fling you had in your early 20s. He was beautiful, but he was dumb. You have a great time, and you’re glad you did it, but it doesn’t actually get you anywhere.

We are having “weather” right now – rain, and snow in the low elevations. (Obviously, our normal near-room-temperature climate does not normally have “weather.”) We wanted to avoid muddy trails, so for our week-day hike, we decided to hit Woodson, since it can be approached via a paved road. No mud, no problem, right?

Well, dumb #1: I started keeping Yaktrax in my trunk at the beginning of winter. About five minutes into this hike I realized I should have brought them with me. We expected snow near the top, at 2800 feet; but there was snow along the road en route to the trail head! Crunchy snow and ice was covering the paved route basically all the way along the road up to the summit. It made for slow and slippery hiking.

But, oh my goodness, was it beautiful! If you are reading this blog post from another part of the country, you might be thinking, “Yeah, and… ?” Well, snow at lower elevations in San Diego is a rarity. Yes, we get snow a few times every winter up in the higher mountains, but snow down to this level – below 2000 feet – is nearly unheard of! Even though our hike was slow-going, it was worth it. Glorious!

This brings us to dumb #2 (dumb & dumber?). Woodson is an extremely popular climb; famous for “Potato Chip Rock.” It’s an iconic local hike, and on any given weekend, hundreds of people are climbing. But the peak itself – the highest point on the climb – is obscure. It’s atop a granite boulder tucked behind an ugly antenna array. I’ve been up Woodson many times, and have never checked out the summit. Since peak bagging was the point of this hike, the proper summit was our only goal today. We carefully made our way through the snow to the summit boulder and surveyed the challenge facing us. Climbing to the top would be tricky under the best of circumstances; today, the rock was wet, and with snow or ice on any vaguely horizontal surface.

The lower portion of the rock was the hardest part. I figured if I could get up to that part, the rest would be doable. With some help from my hiking buddies I scrambled to that point, and began moving up to the next section. From here I had a better view – and I saw that it was covered in snow. I called it at that point; it was just not worth it. We had come this far, but we were not going to make it these last few feet to the official summit.

So yeah, like I said – dumb #2.

I’ve decided to consider this a “provisionally” bagged peak. I’ll count it as #16 for now, under the assumption that – since it’s still only January, for heaven’s sake – there will be another chance for me to climb this most popular of local peaks. Preferably on a dry day.

So although this is not a bagged peak, it was a beautiful, glorious, and interesting hike, and I’m still glad I did it. Just like that boy, on that night so long ago…

About Erika Lawson

Blogging from El Cajon, CA, just east of San Diego. I mostly blog about hiking, but also traveling and family life as a working mom. I also have blogged about my experience dealing with (curable) breast cancer with as much humor and disdain as possible.
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1 Response to Beautiful, but Dumb.

  1. Pingback: Epic final desert weekend | laughter & sleep

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