This morning, I started hiking the Backbone Trail from the Ray Miller Trailhead along PCH. I got an early start–6:45 AM–trying to beat the heat. A couple of days ago, the temp for the area was forecast as a high of 75 degrees. Not so. The cooler temps are just a figment of some forecaster’s imagination. The early start was nice, but it did get a lot warmer later in the day.
Here is the official start or end of the Backbone Trail. The first time I hiked the entire thing, we hiked east to west and this was the end of the trail. Today’s hike began here and headed up the trail. One of the interesting things about hiking from this trailhead is the sound. Even though I was hiking up a hill, it sounded like I was hiking on the beach. I could heard the surf for a surprising long time.
Most of the grasses are dead and brown, there still are a lot of patches of green in the area. The micro-climate of this area so close to the ocean is equal to about an extra 10 inches of rain, even though it rarely rains.
As I approached BBT – Little Birdie a Chirp’in, I turned toward the cache and a guy on a bike asked me, “Did you find it?” It was Big Eagle. I had met him at the SMMNRA Visitor Center once, but it is always nice to meet a fellow cacher on the trail. We talked about the BBT and the Spinal Tap Challenge and then off we went.
Shortly after meeting Big Eagle, I had a decision to make: stay on the loop or drop down into Sycamore Canyon for a few more BBT cache. It was still early and it wasn’t too warm yet, so I decided to go for it. Down I went on the Vista Trail, losing most of the elevation that I had gained all morning.
While I was coming down the trail toward this cache, I almost got run over by a speeding mountain biker. The guy was a complete jerk. I met up with him at GIMMIE A BREAK TOO. I asked him if I hadn’t jumped out of the way, would he have been able to stop. His answer gave me the idea that he wouldn’t want to get his bike messed up in a crash. Told me that I should confine my hiking to trails where bikes aren’t allowed. Not a great ambassador for mountain bikers!
After topping off my water bottles at fire hydrant at GIMMIE A BREAK TOO, I headed west to regain all the elevation that I had just lost. When I got to the junction of Wood Canyon and Hell Hill, I started in the correct direction (to the left and UP), but So Out of Place was in the GPS and the needle was pointing in the other direction. I didn’t realize the mistake until I had found this cache and Trail’s End up the road. Then it was time to turn around and head up the correct route.
I had a rough time head UP Hell Hill today. It was noon, the sun was hot and there was no real shade. And it was UP. I’ve hiked this hill before several times with Boy Scouts and have always had to deal with a slow poke or two. Today, I was the SLOW POKE. It took me about 3 days to get up the hill.
Once I finally got to the top of the ridge, it was nice to walk on some level ground and also get back on a single-track trail. And also get back in the business of finding caches. There are quite a few along the La Jolla Canyon Trail. I only had a couple of DNFs in this stretch–mainly because I was too hot and tired to spend the time required to locate the caches.
It was a great day of hiking and geocaching. 12.4 miles and 36 finds. Today’s track and trail profile is below.