Grapevine Mountain Trip Report

Grapevine Mountain (3,955 feet)

Date: December 31, 2005

This dayhike with Edward Earl was ostensibly done as fitness training for Aconcagua next month. Our specific venue was selected by Edward because Grapevine is among the 3 or 4 legally accessible summits in San Diego County with at least 900 feet of "dirty" prominence that he had not done. The single holdout is San Onofre on Camp Pendleton.

I retrieved Edward in my Tacoma truck at 7 a.m. and we were at our trailhead 79.8 odometer miles after leaving my Del Mar Highlands condominium. A storm system was approaching from northern California, and so as a precautionary measure I did not drive through a dry washbed before parking - lest it become impassible later even with four wheel drive. Our carpark was 0.3 mile west of a northern turnoff from Highway 78 located immediately east of Sentinac Canyon.

From the 1,700 foot start we walked west one mile, some twenty minutes, along dirt Grapevine Canyon Road, with 200 feet of gain. We then headed south, more or less, generally using a ridge route that passed over a 3,560+ foot subpeak prior to attaining the main summit.

We enjoyed good views in all directions, albeit noting warily that Volcan Mountain and other higher summits were already hidden in darkening cloud. Salted peanuts in-the-shell and an entire Mexican onion formed much of my summit food. Some peanut butter molasses taffy was enjoyed, and a peppermint candy cane with a few iced molasses cookies in the holiday spirit (red and green colors with "sweet spices" throughout).

For the descent we headed west to a prominent ridge that took us clear down to about 2,600 feet and a north-south trending wash in Bitter Creek Canyon. A trail paralleled the wash to its east, so avoiding some brushy sections inside the wash itself.

We met Grapevine Canyon Road at 2,000 feet and took our first break since the summit ninety minutes earlier. I enjoyed a caramel-filled Hostess cupcake with some dark chocolate chips and we continued the twenty-five minutes, east, along the dirt road to my truck.

On return to San Diego the rain was drenching both man and road. Two vehicle accidents were observed, with slick conditions responsible for both events. I dropped off Edward at his apartment and drove home, glad to having "missed" the rain when it mattered most - on our 5 to 5 1/2 hour effort that morning.

The net elevation gain was 2,250 feet - the total elevation gain perhaps 100 feet more.