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December 06, 2020

Mt Laguna - Sunrise Highway

With new closures going into effect Sunday 12/6, San Diego County will shut down all county campgrounds and playgrounds, residents will be under Stay at Home orders through Christmas.  All state campgrounds in the county are again closing.  Indoor activities like dining, museums, visitor centers, etc. have been closed since March!

I decided to head to the local mountains again.  I last explored the Cuyamacas (California state), and decided to take on the Lagunas (National Forest).

Parking on the Sunrise Highway requires an Adventure Pass, or the America the Beautiful Card.  I just place the ‘geezer’ card on the dash when I park.

The views to the east are stunning, looking a bit like the Smokey Mountains.

Saw this sign on the Mt Laguna Store.

the Al Bahr Shrine Lodge and Campground was destroyed in 2013 by the Chariot Wildfire.  Fran and I stayed there shortly before the fire.

On the opposite side of S-1 is a new observation deck and rest area for the hikers where the Pacific Crest Trail meets the highway.

There’s parking on both sides of the street at the Penny Pines Trailhead.  This is a tribute to the children and organizations that collected pennies to help reforestation.  This short loop trail goes through the trees that were planted.

Adjacent is the trailhead to Garnet Peak.  

All of the trees that survived the fire carry heavy scars.

The trail has been recently maintained with the chaparral cut back, but the footing is a bit uneven.

Just a 100 yards in – Ka-Ching!  The view goes on the Chocolate Mountains in the distance with the Salton Sea in the foreground.

The trail continues to provide beautiful views over the Anza Borrego Desert.

There’s a couple guys ahead of me already at the top.

They’re easier to see when I zoom in.

I had planned to stop at the Pioneer Mail Picnic Site,  Alas, like the Desert View Picnic Site it is closed.  On the Google Maps it shows the Sunrise Scenic Byway on the half mile trail to Kwaaymii Point.  The Kwaaymii are closely related to the better known Kumeyaay.  

Highway S-1 was rerouted, apparently after the scenic designation.  Old road is now a wide trail.

The views from Kwaaymii Point are among the best, and this was a great day to enjoy them.

Just below the viewpoint on the Mail Trail are many memorials.  Although this is a popular spot for hang gliding, these are not memorials to them.  I offered this spot to dad as a place to release his ashes, he chose Font’s Point, which I agree worked out better.  I suspect the memorials are for those whose ashes were released here, or it was just a favorite spot.

The road into Julian was golden.  I call this color California Gold, after the PBS series of the same name.

Julian is not that big and it was pretty crowded.  The restaurants have taken over the sidewalks, as there is no indoor dining.  But cars are still parked on the street, forcing pedestrians to walk in the traffic lanes. 

Too many people without masks.  I went over to Julian Pie for a frozen Apple Mountain Berry.  No such luck. 

I was parked at the stairs to the Julian Pioneer Cemetery.  I went up the stairs to explore these memorials. 

The cemetery has been in continuous use since 1879.

Marshall South from Ghost Mountain has a new headstone. 

There is a cerca 1947 8mm movie on YouTube narrated by Rider South that shows a bit of what life was like.

The ruins of Yaquitepec, the South home, on Ghost Mountain are a popular destination above Blair Valley.

I left Julian without a pie, but expected to pick one up at their Pie shop in Santa Ysabel.  But the high winds had knocked out the power to the entire community.

Determined not to go home empty handed I called Edwards Vineyards … yes I do have their number on my phone :)  Beth  informed they were also without power and were not going to offer tastings.  That was OK I gave her my order, which included their 2014 Estate Syrah.  She said to come to the house rather than the closed tasting room.

I left Edwards with the Syrah, the winner of this year's family wine off and a spare, along with the petite sister.

Now it’s back to Covid lockdowns :(



  1. Beautiful views out that way. Julian is still on our list. We've had the pie, but have to visit 'Mecca' itself. Hopefully after this lockdown ends. Speaking of which, we just missed being evicted from Sweetwater by 5 days. I feel so bad for all these people who suddenly find themselves evicted from their campsites and left scrambling to find another place to go. I get the need to discourage travel, but there are so many full-timers out there who can't just go "home." I'm thankful to be hunkered down and glad to hear you all will stay safe as well.

    1. Definitely keep Julian on your list. When this latest smack down ends you might consider moving to Borrego Springs (there's private campgrounds there open - our favorite is Holiday at Home) and do Julian from there.

  2. Won't it be nice when the need for this Social Distancing and Masks is no longer needed. The Parks just don't seem to understand that Camping or Boondocking is one of the safest things people can do to stop the spread.
    Great pictures of the trails. Now we'll have to go back to Julian. Kathy likes their Cookies better then their Pies. That tells you how good they are.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. Kathy is right the cookies are very good, but I really like the Mountain Berry pie. Hope you can get back this way soon.

  3. It looks as dry there as in Arizona.

    1. For sure! It is indeed a dry 'Santa Ana' wind from the east ... thanks for sharing it! :)

  4. Glad you were able to get out and back with something tasty. I am looking at the east side of the Chocolate Mts.

    1. That's the right side! The West side is back under mandatory smack down! Looking forward to your adventures there.

  5. Nice job describing the sites and history of Laguna and Julian. It looks like you had a nice clear day making for some spectacular shots. Thanks!

    1. HA! That's high praise from you, Jeff. Thanks - I bet you've covered more miles in the Lagunas then anyone else I know. Keep those miles going!

  6. Excellent adventures continue! You’re certainly getting your steps in.

    1. I really just wanted to get out again before the lock-down went into effect.

  7. Such crazy times. We have family in Poway and our friends Laura and Kevin are currently in San Diego for the winter. I hope the shutdown gets the virus under control. Meanwhile, here in Florida, it's a free-for-all. :-( We wear our masks, social distance, and hope for the best. Stay healthy, and happy holidays!

    1. Will join with Laura & Kevin and Thor once things settle down in the early New Year. Stay Safe in the Florida openings and Holidays!


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