Eagle Crag Trip Report

5,077 ft

Date: March 11, 2003

After being layed off from Accelrys the feeling of freedom was intoxicating. I did this hike intentionally on a Tuesday, a workday for most people, largely - but not exclusively - for this reason. Mind you, my trip to Hawaii had just taken place and yet I still felt the desire for more exercise and adventure.

This dayhike out of my Del Mar home had nothing to recommend for itself. In short, it was not worth the effort.

First, I had to awaken at the ridiculous hour of four a.m. in order to start this sixteen mile hike around sunrise. After driving north on I-15 and then east on route 79 to Aguanga, I had difficulty locating the dirt approach road leading to my trailhead.

Once found, the road was very bad. For the last 2 1/2 miles of its five mile length it was severely eroded and topped with rocks. I was continually worried about getting a flat tire.

The hike began at 7:10 a.m. - later than planned. The route, generally west, passes several trail junctions and has downhill sections that make for more total elevation gain than inferred from the net elevation difference with the summit.

After 7.6 miles I was at the last trail junction before going south, cross-country, up a ravine to this trivial hilltop with, however, a spectacular view to it's south. The elapsed time from my car had been three and one-half hours.

I left the summit immediately to have lunch back at the trail junction, arriving there just after eleven o'clock. Brushed off some ticks and inspected my body in its entirety. Not to worry - nobody else was around.

After lunch I looked east and spotted a wildfire what appeared likely to be on the very ridge where my Tacoma was parked. I was somewhat concerned and decided not to waste time in returning despite the obvious hazard of walking right into a forest fire.

After descending below 4,200 ft as gauged by passing below a nearby hilltop to the northeast, I noted the blaze to be almost certainly above my horizon. In contrast my truck was at about 3,800 ft. However this was little consolation since the fire can easily travel downhill with great rapidity. In general fires tend to travel uphill.

I took as few breaks as possible and pushed myself to the point of near exhaustion, arriving at my vehicle by 2:45 p.m. - just 7 hours 35 minutes from having departed it. I was quite hot and sweated up.

I drove down the horrible road very gingerly, doing at times no more than five miles per hour to lower the chances of a tire puncture.

I continued past Aguanga without stopping. Gasoline in Temecula before I-15 was accompanied by some ice cream with the tail ends of my high-energy snack bars that had sustained me during this most unwelcome hike to nowhere.

The next day I was extremely sore from having gone so far so quickly.