Don Bauder 7:49 p.m., May 22
Cowles Mountain Night Hike
About a month ago I was first told about Cowles Mountain by Derek Loranger (100Peaks.com). I had told him about my videos and he said, "if you want some good hits you should do a video on Cowles Mountain." So I took Derek's advice and 2 weeks later I set out in the morning from Big Rock Park on Mesa road. It was a good hike but it took me 4 hours and the temp reached a high of 97.
Two weeks later I took my fiance for a night hike out there. I knew the temp would be cool and the view would be great. She was a good sport about it and we made it to the top just after 2 hours. The temp on top was 50, but with the wind blowing it felt like 45. We stayed up top for about an hour just staring at the lights of San Diego. After that, I knew I wanted to do this again.
I went to the hiking group I'm a part of, The San Diego Ca Hiking Group, and posted my night hike ambition to see who would come with me. Every one was busy except the groups founder Alain. Alain is a French Canadian from Quebec, but I wont hold it against him. Alain has been here for a couple years and has been wanting to find people to hike with. He had almost given up on his page until I ran into him, and with a third member, Evan, we grew our group to 51 strong. Alain said he would join me since he has never done this hike before. His usual back yard is Iron Mountain. I figured Alain would enjoy this hike, the night hikes in the area are awesome and Cowles I discovered, Is the best.
I picked Alain up from his house around 8pm and the 4 of us ,(Tonio and Buddy), set out to Santee. We took the 52 east to Mission Gorge Road and then after a couple stop lights we took a left on Mesa Road. We stopped just after Big Rock park, geared up and took off for the peak. There was a half moon that night and so the trail was lit brighter than most nights, but the only problem was that when the brush got higher the moon cast a shadow and made the trail harder to see. We really didn't need lights going up, though we did trip on a random rock that just seemed to pop out here and there. The dogs were a head and Tonio took on the shape of a dingo in the dark and the sound of a coyote in the brush when I wasn't paying attention. I strapped buddy with a red glowing light to help keep predators away, though I doubt a red light will keep a hungry coyote or mountain lion away from my 24 lbs dog.
After about 30 - 45 min we reached the access road and took a break. Alain expressed his pseudo concern that I was just trying to take him somewhere romantic and that he wasn't that kind of guy. I reassured him that aside from the part that I'm not a homosexual, french just weren't my type anyway. After we watered the dogs, we forged ahead and made it to the top. Since this was Alain's first time, I let him touch the monument first and took some pictures. The view was amazing to say the least. And in my mind I thought it was a lot better than the Day view. To the south we could see Tijuana, then going north, San Diego, the Coronado bridge, and the outer laying cities of the area. It was like I was looking at all of San Diego county in one blink of the eye. I found it amazing how everything was so connected, and yet there were borders to separate culture, language, and a way of life.
With our sweat drying we started to get cold in the 45 degree air, so we layered up, watered the dogs, and made our way back down. The view was just as amazing on the way down and I was again reminded why I love hiking so much..... Once we hit the Big rock trail on the way down, we decided that after a couple rolled ankles, it was time to illuminate our path. We made it down in no time and before long we were back at the car and happy to sit back down again.
I dropped Alain off at home and he insisted he pay me for gas but I told him just buy me a beer next time. It was my joy introducing someone to something new and that was all the payment I needed. Alain had a great time and so did I. I wished more had joined us to experience what we did. As I hiked with Alain this week and last week, I realized that not only was he a good hiking partner, he is a good friend as well.