Friday, January 22, 2016

San Diego, CA - It's Still All About the Pie

The heater in our room was very efficient but a bit loud in our room last night. Ah, but we’re up and ready for the day now. Breakfast in the dining area. There were 4 guests here last night - winter is not Julian’s season. 2 ladies from British Columbia were at breakfast when we came down and we had a delightful conversation with them about traveling. My question: how would they do breakfast if there were only 4 customers? Just fine, thank you. A nice Continental breakfast.

By the way, the motel is decorated with antiques and is very nicely situated in the heart of town. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wanted to visit Julian. Here’s our room.
And, we’re off. First we strolled the main street, which is all of about 2 blocks long: restaurants, shoppes and pie bakers. Then we headed over to the cemetery to see the grave of Mrs. Milne, the woman who first started a restaurant where we ate last night. Since Julian is built in the mountains, everything is a steep hill and the cemetery was no exception.
The plaque at the bottom said that until 1924 there was no road to the cemetery and all caskets had to be carried up this hill to the top for burial. The casket of Mary Clough in 1896 required 16 men dragging a sled from the church through 3’ of snow to the top of the hill. We looked for her grave but could not find it. Many have lettering which has been eroded by time. Note the gold miner at the top of the plaque panning for gold.
Here was my favorite tombstone.
We returned to the motel, packed our bags and took off for Volcan Mt. We read that the hike to the top is a good workout but the views at the top are so worth it. Here’s the entry to the trail. Boy, if the entry to the trail is this marvelous, think what the trail must be like.
The first 1/2 mile was a road access to the towers on the mountain next to this one. Steep - road builders don’t know about switchbacks. But then they’re designing for cars with engines and not hikers with legs. Then we turned off onto the Oak Tree Trail which was built but the CCC - the California Conservation Corps in 1932. Very nice treed trail.
As we climbed higher, the views opened up and we could see the whole valley below with its grape vines and its apple orchards lining the hills. It’s not the warmest day and we’re pretty high up so we started with ear warmers, gloves and an extra shirt. By this time, we’re huffing and puffing and the gloves, ear warmers and shirt come off.

As we hike, a bit of history about Julian. It was founded in 1850 or 1851 and named after Mike Julian, a cousin of one of the early founders. In 1869, after the Civil War, A.E. ‘Fred’ Coleman was traveling through and noticed a golden glint in the nearby stream. He retrieved his fry pan and began to swirl the sands of the creek. Several mines were founded and swarms of men and families descended on the area. Meanwhile another entrepreneur,  James Madison, began planting apple trees that he had brought in.

When the gold petered out, the town turned to apple orchards to make its living and thus the pies that make them famous. You can still tour an old mine here in Julian but we have toured mines and wanted to hike. Most tourists to Julian come for the journey up the mountain, the mine tour, the shoppes and - the pie. In fact, some drive up the mountain just for the pie and then head home. Gary and I - we come for the hiking - and the pie. Obviously the odd ducks here.

As we wend higher and higher up the trail, we see the crest of the mountain right in front of us. Oh, yeah, I wish. Our GPS says we’ve only gone 1.5 miles - this is a 2.7 mile hike. This is one of those teasing pseudo crests. We know - there’s always a higher crest beyond.

But here’s the real crest - where the trees are on the right. We found out as we climbed that the grassy tree-less section is a wind tunnel from the valley below with no trees to block the wind.
The trail ended back at the road and we hiked the last mile of the hike on the road. As we hike higher and higher, the views are of further and further mountains until we finally get towards the top and can see into Mexico on one side and to Long Beach on the other. Near the top, the road splits and we head up the road to Volcan. To the right we find a chimney of an old cabin that housed astronomers from 1928 - 1932 who were trying to find the perfect spot for the replacement of the Hale telescope.

Finally, Mount Palomar, 25 miles north of here, was chosen.
We felt we were in a wind tunnel though our views were incredibly expansive. We’re near the top and we can see from the Pacific Ocean to the Arizona mountains and from Mexico to Long Beach. The island in the picture below is in Mexico.
What views. Oh, my, was this hike worth it.! I’ll take a picture - oops, my camera is so cold from the temperature up here that it won’t work. I take it out of the case and cuddle it close to my body. I love to cuddle. Yeah, but with a camera? Oh, well. Take what you can get at the top of the mountain in a gale. Here I am trying to get out of the wind behind this telephone pole. Gary took a movie with his iPhone and all you can hear is the wind.
Gary was taking a 360° movie of the views from the top.
A few more feet and we’ve summitted. Here I am doing my ‘Summit’ dance. As I have mentioned, hiking up is fun but summitting is the best.
At the very tippy top the trees blocked the wind. Whew. Again the views were expansive and sumptuous. We walked all around the top and found this antenna. It was part of the Airway Light Beacon System developed in the 1920’s by the Post Office Department for use by its Air Mail pilots. The beacons were 15 - 25 miles apart and by 1946 there were over 2000 beacons in use. By 1972 technology had advanced and the beacons were no longer needed.
And, then it was time to head down. It’s always fun to head down and see views that you missed on the way up. It all looks different. We had met one young man from Denmark who started his hike before ours and we were thinking that we three were the only ones today who were going to enjoy this absolutely marvelous hike. Nope, we met another couple from Oregon who were staying on the other side of the mountains in Borrego Springs for the month and another young man - running up the mountain. 6 of us. And, probably more later in the day.

At the bottom I thought this bench was too tempting to pass up.
One of our best hikes: great views, cool trail, history along the way and - thoughts of pie in town to keep us warm.

NOW, it’s time for the PIE. Yep, we figured we’ve earned another piece of apple crumb pie ala mode. Same restaurant, same waitress, same pie. Gotta go with what’s worked in the past. Was it good? Are my taste buds singing happy songs?

We took a drive back to San Diego that we had planned yesterday when a guy we met told us how beautiful it was. That story is in the next blog.

‘Never be too quick to criticize yourself. It’s not fair to all the friends and relatives who are waiting to do it for you.’

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