Hot Springs Mountain is the highest mountain in San Diego. I came here today to see if I could enjoy snow hiking because of the snow that fell two days ago. Because of the warm San Diego climate, I can only see melted snow today, but this feeling of climbing through the ice-cold, ice cream like air cannot be felt anywhere in San Diego County except here at Hot Springs Mountain.
This is the second time that I have visited this place since early fall, and there was a very different feel to it this time. The ground was now slightly frozen. When I walked I was making a rustling sound, like I was walking over the side of a fallen tree. During this hike, there was no one other than our team, so it felt as if we ran the whole mountain by ourselves. The start of the day was greeted with crisp, chilly weather but it quickly warmed up as soon as the sunlight hit the back of our necks.
The first two miles of the hike were a steep climb. We were surrounded by hills adorned with endless fields of red flower. However, the slope becomes much gentler and leads to the forest area of dense Pine Tree. It is only when we arrived here at this point that the party took a breather and begun to enjoy the surrounding scenery. The scent of pine trees, the still sound of the wind and the gentle morning sunlight of December tickled our eyes.
It takes about 3 to 4 hours to reach the top. The old observation tower, located at the highest point in San Diego, provides one with an overwhelming 360-degree view from, much like the Hubble Telescope provides the astronomer with the “deep field” impression of the universe. There is no shortcut on the way to the top, no surprise there. However, if you climb slowly and silently to the end, it is Hot Springs Mountain, that provides the hiker with a beautiful gift. The gift was that all encompassing panoramic at the end, as if it was teaching me what the lessons of life were laid out before me.
Although I couldn't see the snow today, I was not disappointed. I finished today's hike with a more precious warmth in my heart.
Trailhead: 1500 Camino San Ignacio Rd Warner Springs, CA 92086
Length/Est/ Difficulty: 9.8 mi (5 h +/-) / 2,417 ft /hard
Course | Hot Springs Mountain
Hiking | Cocktail | Outdoor | Photography