Instead, I opted to share this particular hike with my wife, Hoa. My insistence on having her on this hike with me also delayed my hiking over the last few months, since having a young daughter rarely enables us to be free at the same time. My nieces also happen to be very busy, so the PD and his family don't have a lot of time for babysitting, and I don't want to impose unless their schedule is pretty light.
So, nearly three months after my last hike to El Cajon Mountain, I was celebrating the first days of the new year with my wife by climbing Van Dam Peak, an island of dark coastal sage scrub rising out of Sabre Springs.
The hike itself is a relatively short and easy hike along one ridge to another and then to the top, where there still remains a foundation for a radio tower. We parked in the neighborhood and started up the trail, leaving the early morning sounds of the homes below us to fade away as we ascended the ridge.
Before the hike, I began to think about all of the amazing places we've been together, and how many of those places were in the outdoors, one way or another. We've known each other for well over 20 years. Given our shared history of our love for the outdoors, it was fitting that she joined me on this milestone hike.
We talked about our daughter and the new year ahead of us. We enjoyed the cool air (36 degrees, according to the thermometer of my car) of the morning and made it to the peak in no time. There were stacks of rocks on the concrete foundation of what the topo maps refer to as a radio tower, but not much is left. There were also some small jumps carved out of the ground by mountain bikers.
We could see pretty far to the east. Now that I've been to Cuyamaca Peak, I am amazed at how often you can see this mountain from almost anywhere in the county.
The crisp winter air really cleared out the particles, allowing us to see for miles. The clouds, however, continued to gather. We were back down by 7:30AM, but the rain didn't show up until the afternoon.
It was a nice short hike to remind us of how we started our relationship. One of our first dates around 1991 was going on a hike.
Happy New Year.
Edit: The peak that I climbed to is informally titled North Van Dam Peak. On topo maps, Van Dam Peak is a slightly lower peak just to the southeast, but I really wanted to get to the highest point of this little range. I might be visiting the actual Van Dam Peak in the future, but for now, I got to the top.