Wildflowers in bloom on Cuyamaca Peak

Cuyamaca Peak in San Diego County is a really steep but rewarding hike. From the 6512′ summit, a wide area of San Diego backcountry can be seen. In May 2014, the trip up the mountain was just as interesting. Many different types of wildflowers were in bloom, which added a nice touch to the still evident devastation caused by the 2003 Cedar Fire.

Looking up the trail, many dead trees can be seen from the 2003 fires.
Looking up the trail, many dead trees can be seen from the 2003 fires.
Lupine alongside the road to the summit.
Lupine alongside the road to the summit.
Indian Paint Pot flowers, I think.
Indian Paint Pot flowers, I think.
At the summit, looking northerly toward Palomar Mountain and Santa Ysabel Valley.
At the summit, looking northerly toward Palomar Mountain and Santa Ysabel Valley.

Road Building in San Gabriel Canyon

In the 1930’s, Los Angeles County began construction of an additional roadway over the San Gabriel Mountains via the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. About half of the roadway, complete with with four larger bridges and a tunnel, was constructed. Work had progressed as far as “The Narrows” by 1938. However, the March 2-3, 1938 storms caused much of the roadway to be washed out. The project was then abandoned, leaving a large arch bridge stranded many miles upriver. The tunnel still exists as well, just north of the “Bridge to Nowhere”, though it has been sealed at both ends.

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1936 arch bridge – The Bridge to Nowhere
1936 stamp on the arch bridge.
1936 stamp on the arch bridge.
Looking over the arch bridge to the tunnel site.
Looking over the arch bridge to the tunnel site.
Abandoned and partly destroyed bridge over the river.
Abandoned and partly destroyed bridge over the river.
Bridge over Cattle Canyon on the East Fork Road. This is similar to what the removed bridges north of here would have looked like.
Bridge over Cattle Canyon on the East Fork Road. This is similar to what the removed bridges north of here would have looked like.
1934 USGS Camp Bonita map showing the roadway completed to about 1 mile south of the “Bridge to Nowhere” site.
1940 USGS Camp Bonita map showing the now stranded bridge location.

In the 1955,  a new road building project commenced in the canyon. This new alignment would stay high above the canyon floor until it got nearer to the “Bridge to Nowhere”, allowing that earlier work to come to some use. Progress on this roadway was slow, mostly due to poor funding. Convict labor was used for most of the project, similar to many other road building efforts at the time in Los Angeles County. Two tunnels were constructed as well. These still exist and are mostly intact. This project too was cancelled in the late 1960’s, leaving another large scar in the canyon. This road is presently known as Shoemaker Canyon Road.

Stone railing along Shoemaker Canyon Road.
Stone railing along Shoemaker Canyon Road.
Looking toward the higher peaks of the San Gabriels along Shoemaker Canyon Road.
End of the pavement and open section of Shoemaker Canyon Road.
End of the pavement and open section of Shoemaker Canyon Road.
1961 and 1964 tunnels in view.
Partly graded roadway and tunnel along the "Road to Nowhere".
Partly graded roadway and tunnel along the “Road to Nowhere”.
Date stamp on the first tunnel.
Inside the longest tunnel, from 1961.
Grading along the "Road to Nowhere".
Grading along the “Road to Nowhere”.
Northern tunnel from 1964.
Northern tunnel from 1964.
1966 USGS Glendora map showing the “Shoemaker Canyon” roadway under construction.

Today, the canyon is protected from future development through the Sheep Mountain Wilderness Area. Even without this protection, the geology of the canyon makes for a very expensive project. Maintenance would also be costly, as seen with State 39 through San Gabriel Canyon and above Crystal Lake. In time, all these structures and cuts will wash away, leaving the canyon with only bits of concrete and asphalt to show what was once here.

Remnants of paving in the canyon.
Remnants of paving in the canyon.

La Jolla Shores Beach Trip – May 2, 2013

I took a trip out to the beach today (May 2). It has been a while since I’ve gone and I wanted to test out my new zipperless wetsuit. I decided on the beach between La Jolla Shores and Black’s Beach. The scenery is great and the beach is far less crowded. So, I put on my wetsuit, grabbed my bag, and headed out on the motorcycle to La Jolla. Parking is so much easier there when you don’t have to worry about a car. It seems every time I go out there I am left wondering why I don’t go more often.

Scripps Pier
Scripps Pier
Small Sea Arch with muscles
Small Sea Arch with muscles
Tide Pools
Tide Pools
One of the Starfish I found.
One of the Starfish I found.
A Sea Slug? This little creature was quite colorful too.
A Sea Slug? This little creature was quite colorful too.
Another Starfish, this one out of water.
Another Starfish, this one out of water.

The tide was out when I got there, allowing for a very exposed and wide beach. The waves were pretty decent in spots, with the surfers getting plenty of use out of them. Just north of Scripps Pier, there is a rocky area with some tide pools. I stopped by and checked them out on my way. Today was about exploring and having fun, so why not? I found a small sea arch with quite a few muscles clinging to it. I also found a few starfish and some sort of sea slug. Once past the rocks, it was time to find a spot to go swimming. I’ve been wanting to get in the water with my new wetsuit. I’ve heard that zipperless suits are warmer in the water. This style of wetsuit is quite popular with the surfers around here as well. I found a spot to leave my gear, and I headed out to the water. Initially cold, it ended up being quite comfortable in my suit. I didn’t get the cold rush of water into the suit through the rear zipper, this one not having a rear zipper. It felt great to be out in the water. The ocean is cold here, but fairly clear. I think next time I’ll bring my fins and play around some more in the water.

My swim spot. A very wide, yet nearly empty beach in San Diego... this is the life!
My swim spot. A very wide, yet nearly empty beach in San Diego… this is the life!
Heading north along the cliffs.
Heading north along the cliffs.

After my swim, I wanted to explore the beach some more. I headed a bit further north until I reached a canyon that had running water coming from it. I stopped to check out the stream and ended up seeing some surfers with their boards coming out of the canyon. Upon closer investigation, I saw they were using a rope to climb the steep entrance from the beach into the canyon. I decided to explore this canyon a bit. Heading into it was pretty easy, though muddy in places. I was glad to be wearing my wetsuit booties. Much easier to walk in than bare feet. The trail was fairly well worn, though very narrow in places. About 100 yards into the canyon, there was a sizable waterfall. I wondered how I would get past it until I saw a surfer with a long board make it through rather easily. It turns out there was a very well worn series of “steps” in a narrow passage through the sandstone. Once I made my way up these, I got a better view of the upper reaches of the canyon. I decided to head back down, not wanting to end my beach time just yet. Heading down was a little easier than going up.

Surfer on his way down the trail.
Surfer on his way down the trail.
Inside the canyon, deep and narrow.
Inside the canyon, deep and narrow.
A seemingly impenetrable sandstone wall.
A seemingly impenetrable sandstone wall.
"Surfers Steps". Somehow they manage this carrying their boards.
“Surfers Steps”. Somehow they manage this carrying their boards.
Almost back to the beach.
Almost back to the beach.

At the bottom of the canyon, I headed back toward the motorcycle. I stopped for another swim at the same spot I did heading up. I just needed another soak in the ocean. After my swim, I headed over to the rocks where I saw the tide pools earlier. The tide was already coming up, so the outer reaches were flooded. As I got closer to the pier, the beach was a lot busier. It seems like the rocky area is a barrier to some. It sure didn’t stop me today. Overall, it was an enjoyable swim, a fun hike, and I definitely will return sooner. As I live in San Diego, I should at least take advantage of the beautiful beaches we have here in “America’s Finest City”. On my way home I stopped for a burger at the In-n-Out in Mission Valley, where the guy at the counter was rather inquisitive as to why I was wearing a wetsuit. He definitely enjoyed seeing me in my wetsuit. After getting home and doing a bit more research, the canyon I walked up ends at the parking area for the Torrey Pines Glider Port.