19 January 2014

Sunday Hike on Iron Mountain

May 2013

San Diego is surrounded by numerous hills on east and north. Good news is that many of them are accessible and contain good trails, for horse riding, mountain biking, trail running and for hiking.

These hills are typically few hundred meters high (vertically). Further away lies higher mountains, which offer more ascending and descending for longer trips, e.g. PCT.

Iron Mountain is a pretty popular place for day hikes on weekends. Its parking lot is full of cars at 8AM.  One motivation to arrive early is heat, which may hit you on spring, summer and autumn time.

Have visited numerous hiking trails last year and usually one thing has been common in them; there's no water available in them.

On Iron Mountain, there's about 300 meters to climb vertically on 5 km's distance. Trails are in good condition. One cannot escape heat, there's no shadow any place near. So, either leave early, or pick up a cool day.

There's a nice gate welcoming you into to the trail from the parking lot. The next after the gate the trail went through a tree alley.  At first the trail is is quite wide and dead straight, until it started to ascend more and more, having twists left and right.

Once you have climbed some time, you started to see to Ramona in east. Here the trail turned almost back to west and the final zig zag to the peak of Iron Mountain started.

Once on top, there's a pretty view in every direction.  Had some snacks and enjoyed scenery.

Back down one had to share the one and only trail until at trails junction one could select alternative route back. Even further there's a loop which circled hidden within high bushes.

Managed to get some 10km on GPS.

In overall, a good place for a day hike. Next time I'll carry more water with me.

Few snapshots


An Alley

Straight on

Trail runners

Zig Zag

A view towards south

Strategy meeting

Wild sage

On trail

12 January 2014

Exploring and Hiking on Joshua Tree National Park

November 2013

This was the place where I'd wanted to go for a long time and now finally made it, for the very first time though.

To me the place had been legendary for one reason, Gram Parsons. The Country Rock star went there often, to watch UFOs, enjoyed some 'material' famous at his time etc, last time too much though.  Well, my reasons where pure outdoor related, enjoying scenery on a desert based National Park (NP).

Had earlier bought James Kaiser's book about the Joshua Tree NP. He'd described all important information pretty well in his book. National Geographics' waterproof maps found its place, too (sweating in mind, not due to rain).

First impression was that it was a mecca for rock climbing. Over 8000 routes in there. Just wow. When Yosemite gets snow, climbers head to Joshua Tree.

The Joshua Tree NP is located about two hours drive east from Los Angeles in Southern California. Nearest bigger city is perhaps Palm Springs. The NP lies on above 4000ft, in a southern part of Mojave Desert.  The San Andreas Fault goes between the NP and San Jacinto Wilderness.

Late November was a good time for visiting, temperature stayed between 10-20C. It's a very large park, too. There were a few famous places which I wanted to see. Some roads crossed the park, which helped to jump from one place to another.

Had a quick look at the Visitor Center at Joshua Tree town. Usually these places provide a pretty good overview of the place, and it's the last chance of getting some material, equipment and stuff.  There's an entrance fee to NPs in the USA. Having an Annual Card is worth if one visits a few of them around the year.

The NP had a few Camping sites, too. All full of young people, obviously lots of climbers. Very friendly and relaxed atmosphere in all of them.

The first place was the Key View, a peak where opened a grand view towards Coachella Valley and San Jacinto mountains towards west.

The Cap Rock was the next one where to stop. This was The Place. If you've seen the film Grand Theft Parsons, you know why. Short trails were surrounded by a huge rock there.

Continued east to Arch Rock. Nice trails lead through Camping site to the huge rock, formed like an arch.  Circled through trails, took some snapshots.

Next headed back to west to Scull Rock. Went for a longer trail, which circled again through a Camping site and some other massive rock formations. Climbers returned from their daily session back the Camping site. Really friendly people and even they looked exhausted they were ready to go back and teach some basics. Awesome.

Second last stop was at Ryan Mountain. It had a few climbing routes. There was full action in many of them. Perhaps at this point the Joshua Trees, i.e. cactus based trees were best looking.

My last stop was at Barker Dam. Did again a 5km hike on a trail. The small pond had little water. Mainly the rocks around the pond were the ones which attracted people here. Petroglyphs were the second interest.

After rushing few places headed back to a Joshua Tree town. A cool hippie style desert town looked interesting. Had a dinner on Crossroads Cafe, authentic place. Final look at Joshua Tree Inn and headed back to Palm Springs.

I'm really glad I've been able to explore through Joshua Tree NP. Worth every second spent there.

A few snapshots

A Joshua Tree


A typical view, rock climbers on top

Someone had remembered GP at Cap Rock

A route # xxx

Ryan Mountain

Attractive rocks

On a White Tank Camping Site

Strange looking

Arch Rock

On top

Arch Rock

A view

Capturing moments at Scull Rock

Somewhere there between rocks

Erosion and weather eaten rocks

On a trail

Perhaps breaking all composition rules but this is what it looked like

She. In action

The final view