So this post is a little past due, but relevant all the same. Walking/hiking adventures don’t have to be lengthy in distance or time, but preferably purposeful and memorable.
This “short” little jaunt checked all the boxes, especially having been shared with near “life-long” friends. It was the “brain-child” of my friend Sandy (aka. “Pole Dancer” of Half Dome “fame”). While she is not truly a fan of long distance hiking, she is a fan of challenges and adventures.
Potato Chip Rock located on Mt. Woodson summit, in Poway California, with an ascent of 2130 ft. from Lake Poway, which then puts you at around 2846 ft. in elevation once you get to Potato Chip Rock. This was “bucket list” item of sorts. Potato Chip Rock is a fractured rock formation that creates an illusion of being suspended over an abyss whilst standing on a giant “potato chip” (no flavor specified). It is the apex of a series of trails in and around Lake Poway, with tremendous popularity for both the “locals” and “curiosity” hikers, of which we fell into. After much “negotiation” within our “Vintage” women’s water polo group/team of schedules and availability, an early Friday morning in December was selected wherein, sadly, only 5 of our group could attend. Having researched several other blog posts that succinctly describe this hike, we knew that setting out rather early in the morning would insure a higher probability of less “congestion” on the trail and specifically at our destination. Also, an early morning ascent would provide for more favorable temperature(s) to hike in, as this area of Poway is significantly drier and warmer than hiking in/near San Clemente.
Up and early we rally at Pole Dancer’s abode and make the nearly 60 mile drive to Lake Poway as the sun is beginning to rise. Within the hour, we pull into the parking lot of Lake Poway (14644 Lake Poway Rd., Poway CA 92064) and are pleasantly surprised there is no one to collect a fee for parking at this early hour. As this trail is “dog friendly”, our friend Erin has brought her dog to accompany us. A “potty break”, to off-load the morning’s ritual consumption of coffee, is in order. As with all trails, we begin this trek (leaving from the restroom) with an uphill, that then leads to a downhill, to the trail, and then an ever-climbing uphill to Potato Chip Rock. The air is brisk, for our So-Cal standards, but we are thankful that, although it will warm up, it will not be a scorching hot day.
As we march up the wide, well-maintained dirt trail we break off into cascading conversations, and admire the unobstructed views of the surrounding hillsides and Pacific Ocean in the near distance. We wonder why in college we never ventured here, but then realize that most of our recreation involved alcohol or aquatic related activities. Soon the trail narrows and stair-steps upwards, leaving us at times breathless with thighs-a-burning.
When we reach Potato Chip Rock we are relieved that there is not a crowd. Each of us make our way up and onto the “edge” of the rock with varied degrees of required effort, both physically and mentally.
One’s choice of ascent and/or descent is either a “squeeze/shimmy” between two boulders, or a “short” leap, of sorts, from atop the adjacent boulder onto the bottom edge of Potato Chip rock (and visa versa).
My fear of heights and self-constrained “leaping” ability required I squeeze/shimmy and literally crawl to the rock’s edge, all the while with concentrated breathing and encouragement from the now growing crowd waiting “patiently” for me to succeed.
Some did better than others.
Once photo-ops are taken, we have a snack and admire the view from another vantage point slightly down the trail, before heading back to our vehicles and the rest of our Friday.
This of course, was not without a 2moremiles “obligatory”, and unintended, detour that required us to retrace our steps, which we chalked up to inattention and just plain jabbering, thus rounding out our 7 mile trek to an “even” 8 miles.
I will say, unequivocally, that I am blessed to have such good friends who are willing to join me (occasionally) on my adventures, however “misguided” they may be. In fact, planning for the next adventure has already begun…we just need it to “dry out” a bit!