Last Friday, I took a morning off to see how things were looking up at the higher elevations. Rather than head up the Whitney Portal Trail, I went up the Meysan Lakes Trail instead. Over the years, I’ve found that the main danger of such an early season hike is traversing the iced over parking lot for the campground early in the morning. Fortunately, I was able to not slip on the inch of black ice present, and I did make it to the trailhead, which was partially covered in places with one-three inches of iced out snow.
San Diego is a city that in many respects is unparalleled for its outdoor and wilderness opportunities. Within the confines of the county there is terrain that ranges from coastal to alpine, and covers everything in between. While much of the coastal wilderness areas are well known to locals and visitors alike, one of the wilderness gems of San Diego is not as well known, the Laguna Mountains.
The more I travel in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the more convinced I am that one of its best spots is also one of the most accessible spots, the Meysan Lake Trail. I first hiked the Meysan Lake trail back in 1998; and when I came back to it in 2013, I wondered why I had avoided it for that length of time. Fortunately I did not have to wait another fifteen years to revisit the Meysan Lake trail, as I hiked it this last weekend. As this trail is very straightforward to follow, I'm going to focus on current trail conditions in 2015 that I experienced.
One of the most popular misconceptions about San Diego is that it is an area that does not have seasons. Even I will joke around with fellow outdoor aficionados that San Diego has two seasons: green and brown. Having said all of that, San Diego is a great area for outdoor activities, and it is a great place to observe the sometimes subtle changes that occur on the local backcountry trails. And sometimes, San Diego receives weather that usually is reserved for other parts of the country. While these winter storms are rare, they are a great opportunity for people to see parts of the county in a different way. Last week, when a winter storm rolled through San Diego, I knew that I wanted to head into the mountains to a place I had visited earlier in the year - the Sunset Trail, as it is one of the few alpine areas above 6,000 feet in the county, and would be assured of having a substantial amount of snow.
California is a state with natural beauty that stretches the entirety of the state to each of its borders. It is also a state where the beauty above ground in some areas pales with the beauty below ground. Like a sunset on an unknown beach, each of these areas offer solitude, otherworldly beauty, and in some cases, some of the most unique terrain on the planet. Even if you've never explored a cave before, each of these spots will interest and intrigue you, and provide you a great introduction to the world below your feet.
On the Northern border of Lassen National Park in the Lassen National Forest is the Subway Cave, a remnant of Northern California's volcanic past. This portion of California is part of the Cascade Range of mountains, ancient volcanoes that shaped the geology of the region thousands of years ago, and continue to shape the region even today.