Hello, Old Friend

Red Butte
May 19, 2021
Miles: 3.33
Elevation Gain: 352 ft
Gaia Track*
100 Peaks Challenge #66
Afoot & Afield, 5th ed., Trip #12 (mostly)

*Ok I don’t know why this track has me drop down to -66,617ft – nearly twice as deep as the Marianas Trench – but I think that’s marvelous and I have no intention of trying to figure out how to fix it.

Torrey Pines State Park is one of the first places I visited when I first moved to San Diego, way back in 1995. Then in the early 2000s, when I was living in University City, I would come here to do hill repeats on my bike – we’d pedal up the park road and speed back down the main road, keeping pace with the cars. I remember once doing this with a hard hangover – best hangover cure ever. And then there was the time Tad and I strolled through the park to a lovely viewpoint to “crash” our good friends’ family-only wedding – with me pregnant with Lane.

More recently, in 2017, I systematically hiked every (open) trail in the park. It was while I was recovering from chemo/radiation (hey hey, Project Perky!) and I was between projects at work, with lots of free time. I would drive in to my nearby office early to avoid traffic and head straight to the beach. Park at the bottom and hike on up to the top, working my way around all the trails amongst the rare Torrey Pines, then head to work.

But until the 100 Peaks Challenge, I had never heard of Red Butte. It’s not exactly a “peak,” and I’m not quite sure why it’s included in the challenge; but I love that it is! This area is a special place, classic San Diego; and including a hike or two along the coast balances out the many desert hikes.

Red Butte is one of a few peaks that my hiking buds and I have decided we’d do on our own. They are easy, short, and can be done any time of year. In fact this would be a great hike to do as a family – we could walk around the state park, bag the peak, and hike down to the surf. The steps down to the beach are pretty cool and I’m sure the kids would enjoy it, especially the “down” part. 

And maybe I’ll do that someday; but on this day I was having breakfast with some friends in La Jolla at 7:30am – so the timing was perfect to squeeze this one in beforehand. I can always do it AGAIN sometime with the kiddos. I did the same routine as I used to do in 2017 – I arrived early enough to park alongside the beach, and jogged up the hill. Yes I said “jogged” – all the trails in this park are perfect for trail running, so that’s what I did. Ok, yes, I walked when it got too steep; but otherwise I mostly kept up an easy jogging pace. I decided to “summit” Red Butte first, since that was my main objective. I made my way down the familiar trail to the bluff that I’d surely passed before but never climbed. I climbed it today, and boom, peak #66!

After getting the job done, I still had time before my breakfast, so I jogged around the visitor’s center, then up to another marked peak in Peakbagger, Torrey Pines Hill 365. It was off-trail and a bit of a bush whack – I hesitated since off-trail hiking seems like something that would not be allowed here; but there were no signs or fences, and there was a clear use trail… so I went for it. After that I headed back down the road and bagged the Torrey Pines Benchmark (aka High Point) – which seems like it’d be more likely to be on the 100 Peaks list, except that it’s really more of a pathway with a staircase, not a trail. And with that, I headed for breakfast.

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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