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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cuyamaca Day 2

Continued from 
Cuyamaca Day 1


Day 2 saw me waking with a fraction of my normal sleep given that it got down to 40 degrees and while some tents are built to help retain and circulate body heat our tent, sadly, was not one of those models. Its great for desert camping given the open mesh styling but for cold weather camping which one would not normally associate with Cuyamaca late June, was not the perfect fit. Even though I had stuffed my favorite 20+ year old mexican blanket into my sleeping bag no matter how hard I tried there was one area of skin that was ice cold and made the entire night a bit on the uncomfortable side. I kicked myself remember the wife offering up my thermal underwear and sweatshirt and me refusing given at that point in time it was probably still 60 degrees or thereabouts. I learned Cuyamaca Lakes rule #1- a 50 degree drop in temperature is not uncommon. 


I woke up and poured some fresh water into our favorite aluminum pan and busted out the portable propane stove and clicked the starter switch 4 or 5 times before I realized it was not switching into the "on" position. I was able to get it lit and stay lit provided I stood by the side of table providing enough downward force on the lever via thumb to keep it lit but decided that process might take 5 minutes....sure its only 5 minutes but thats not the Cahill camping way. I threw some of the high heat flash burning wood Thuc brought with him and started a fire in the pit. 15 minutes later the fire was good and hot placing the cast iron skillet on top of the fire pits grill and the aluminum pot filled with water on top of the cast iron skillet-it was only 10 or 15 minutes before bubble started forming in the pan and another 5 or so before I had my first cup of morn's coffee. 


Thuc and his family awoke-actually they awoke far before I did and to my bemusement I am fairly certain I heard some DSS sounds in the background. Between that and Artic Station Zebra and feeling the heat of the sun on the side of the tent I was ready to get up ASAP anyhow.  


As we all dressed for the day I asked Thuc if he had brought the pastries and muffins that was part of the things he had agreed to bring. He shot a sheepish green and said "looks like we're going into town."


Next thing I know we are in the Julien Cafe ordering breakfast. Truth be told it was fantastic. Normally I dont expect much in little towns as I figure they're not trying too hard to impress but everything on the menu was incredibly good with me and the wife sharing between the Cinnamon Roll French Toast and the Julien Skillet Scramble. I did feel a bit bad though as Alex decided at this point in time he no longer was going to order on the Kids menu and thus ordered the $8 blueberry short stack of pancakes and ate about 1/10 of it before he said he was full and didnt touch anything else afterwards. Cool place as well with the old style toilets in the bathroom and just an overall very cool vibe. We asked the waitress about the best places to buy groceries and she gave us a couple of suggestions. 


Alex's 8 dollar Blueberry Panckakes






We headed back to camp and longed to take a good old fashioned long camping hike through the west end of the Cleveland National Forest. By the time we got back it was  roughly 11:30 so I gave in impromptu speech about why hiking at the hottest point of the day is always the best time to start a long journey. I brought my water backpack which could carry 2L of waters and stuffed a few more bottles in for good measure and told the kids to bring as much water as they could carry.


We started the journey and walking the paved driveway to the trailhead I heard the first "Im tired." Good thing was it wasnt one of my kids. Finally making the trail we were off. Roughly 15 minutes into the hike Tomoko and I realized A)we probably should have researched which trail we wanted to go on, B)choose the trail I wanted to go on which went to the top of one of the peaks where you supposedly could see San Diego on the West, the Desert on the East, and a handful of Starbucks scattered about for good measure; and C)printing out the trail map may have been a good idea since we rarely saw the park ranger and when we did she mentioned they were out of trail maps. Later we realized Thuc was on the 5G network and selling shares of stock on the way courtesy of ETrade and could have used the net to pull up the trails anyhow but I digress.


We were about 30 minutes into the hike before all of the kids were taking turns complaining about heat and thirst and being tired....this was a far cry from when just me and the fam did the 3 Queens trail in Bryce Canyon Utah.  I implored the kids to move forward offering the idea that when completed we would spend the rest of the day at the stream for some cool water fun in the sun. It worked for a bit but not as long as Id hoped. I reflected back to my days of attending Grateful Dead concerts and marveled at how at one time walking around meant "buds, doses, shrooms" but now with age had morphed into "im thirsty, im tired, im hot."


We kept trekking however and each summit offered a beautiful vista and view of the landscape. Thrown about at random you would see the large burnt oak tree with its twisted burnt limbs reaching vainly to the sky. Some of the twisted, burnt, angle of the branches reached out like an old woman with arthritis. It made for fine juxtaposition however as the surging greenery permeating the area was eclipsing and engulfing was what at one time nothing more the miles of scorched Terra earthed. I could imagine how walking this same path 5 years ago after fire ravaged the land how it must have looked very similar to nuclear holocaust.


The kids didnt seem to see the same things I was seeing however and while each turn and bend of the path opened a new experience of organic awe that I embraced and actually became enraptured in, to the kids it may as well have been the Bataan Death March. Tomoko quietly asked how much longer and I gingerly sidestepped the question with a series of grunts and mumbles looking down lurching forward with a posture akin to Homo heidelbergensis


One of the many peaceful views the trail offered.....between kids complaining and whining that is.




I was able to buy a bit more time with the "one more hill" routine before finally realizing the one more hill was a trail overgrown with Poison Oak or at least some type of noninviting plant as well as the growing preasance of bees and other types of stinging insects. At that point I knew there was no way we could continue. Back to camp we went as the kids busted out the Gogurts and Capri Suns and celebrated.


So we made it back to camp and got everyone into their swim trunks...except me who decided it was hot enough were I could swim in my shorts and underwear and still be dry and comfy enough in time for the nights dinner. We walked to the path on the right this time as we sought the perfect pool/stream for the kids to splash around in. This time as well featured no snakes so that was nice.


Once settled I took a little quest further down the river to see what other natural formations harkened, beckoned, and otherwise invited me into its cool allure of moisture. There were some nice pools roughly 3 or 4 feet deep Id imagine but also with some currents that looked way too much for the kids and way too harsh for the Kubla Khan I was searching for. 




A few yards further down I found it-Cleveland National Forests answer to Chings Pond in Maui. A 5 or 6 foot waterfall culminating in a 15 by 15 foot pool of cool enjoyment. There were some young ladies in the area testing the pool and together we agreed that the pool could be 5 feet deep or maybe 15. It was the great unknown. I looked up and remembered that Tomoko and Thuc were with the kids and given I wasnt sure if this was the chosen pool I decided to go back and make the decision to jump later.


The magical pool in which I attained religious enlightenment




Later came and I decided that if I didnt swim the pool I would never forgive myself. I took off my shoes and made my way down the rocky surface to the lip of the pool and soon discovered the exposed rock that has baking in the sun for a couple of hours also retains and absorbs said suns heat. The searing smell of heel made the decision to jump in a bit easier....I took a small jump and was in! The cool water would arguably have been too cold in someone else's backyard pool but in this environment it was nothing less then perfect. I poked my feet down to test the depth and discovered that it was about 5 -6 feet deep in some areas. I swam from side to side and even underwater, fully submerged for a bit before swimming under the falls and letting the force of the falls give me a pseudo neck and shoulder massage. It reminded my of the waterfalls at the Tropicana in Vegas. I enjoyed the roaring of the falls in my ears blocking out all peripheral sound and the pulse of the water on my shoulders put me into my happy place 1 turn short of sheer bliss. After 30 minutes or 5 minutes-I will never know I decided it was time to walk back up to the kids. Walking out of the pool and onto the rocks I saw Tomoko had made her way down to the pool with the camera to take a few shots. As we walked back up the trail a group of teens passed us as one threw his towel to the side and did a cannonball of the edge of the rocks into the same pool I just left. We decided they must have been more familiar with the area then we were. 






We made it back to camp and I opened a can of cold Sapporo and collapsed in my camp chair to relax for a bit while the same bluebird who at this time was my Lex Luther decided to land on the stump 5 feet away from me. I was hot, tired, and stank. My shorts were still damp, my shoulders sore, and I would have paid top dollar for a bar of Irish Spring.




Quoth the Steller's Jay, "Nevermore."







The Final Day of our Journey can be found here....
Epilogue- We Say Goodbye

2 comments:

heidi k said...

Actually, you were in a CA State park-Cuyamaca Rancho. The pools are Green Valley Falls.There are two large signs announcing the park at each end on highway 79.

heidi k said...

Actually, you were in a CA State park-Cuyamaca Rancho. The pools are Green Valley Falls.There are two large signs announcing the park at each end on highway 79.