Mother’s Day Hiking

Paradise Mountain
May 8, 2021
Miles: 7.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,881 ft
Gaia Track
100 Peaks Challenge #61

Boucher Hill
May 8, 2021
Miles: 0!
Elevation Gain: 0!
No Gaia track!
100 Peaks Challenge #62

In our continuing effort to hike peaks now that we won’t be able to do when it gets truly hot, we headed out to Valley Center (I think that’s where we were??) to Hellhole Canyon Preserve to bag Paradise Mountain. We arrived at 7am… to find the gate closed. We were able to park just outside the gate and walk up the hill to the huge parking area at the trailhead proper and use the exceptionally clean facilities… when the county park ranger arrived to open the gate (an hour early)! After moving our cars, we started the hike.

This is an inverted hike (not an introverted hike, LOL!) and we descended, steeply at times, to Hell Creek – still flowing and lovely. The hike headed uphill from there but never got too steep. Compared to last week’s hike in South Clevenger Canyon, the flowers were not as showy; but the views were impressive, especially gazing over toward Rodriguez Mountain. We arrived at the summit, but had to check our phones – was this it? I think it was the most inconspicuous peak we’ve done yet. We paused to take some photos and admire the view, then continued on. (#61, yeah!) After crossing a saddle we rose again to a secondary peak – Ditch Benchmark – then continued looping around back – and more steeply – back to the trail we’d come up. We saw a few people – and one rattlesnake warning (but no sighting) – as we began the ascent back up to the trailhead.

When we were planning this hike, I was looking for ways to combine this peak with others on the list for the sake of driving efficiency, since this peak is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I saw that Boucher Hill was a 45 minute drive from this trailhead. That may not sound very close; but from my house, Boucher Hill is an hour and 45 minutes. So heading up from Paradise trailhead would save two hours round trip – let’s do it!

This was the first peak in the challenge that we drove up to – there will be a couple more that we’re saving for hot weather. When I was first considering taking on this challenge, I figured that for these driving peaks I would walk at least a mile each way, just to keep in the spirit of the challenge. Welp, we didn’t do that. First of all, we’ve hiked this peak before. Secondly, we just hiked nearly 8 miles! Lastly, there is a parking lot right at the peak – and no parking along the way. It was all or nothing.

We arrived at the summit just before noon. The fire lookout tower volunteer was home, and he enthusiastically pointed out the nearby summits for us. He also settled an age-old debate: how is this peak pronounced? Apparently it’s “BOOKER” – and this was corroborated by the spelling on the peak’s benchmark. We walked around, took our photos, and began the long drive home. Peak #62.

The next day was Sunday, and it was Mother’s Day. I had intended to bag yet another peak (it’s Mother’s Day, and I like to hike, right?), but my family expressed interest in a nearby trail that is a favorite of mine, and I’ve wanted to go to for a family hike for a while. So we did that, and it was great! A nice relaxing stroll through a local park. Afterwards, at home, Lane made breakfast – eggs Benedict, that he’d been practicing with his grandmother Mackie. Delicious!

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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