Friday the 13th of November, exactly eight months to the day that I was officially furloughed from my hotel position in Phoenix. (Friday the 13th of March) Since we were in San Diego on the day I was notified, Carolyn and I returned to finish the official Five Peak Challenge that we had started in January. Due to Covid pandemic concerns and the multiple shutdowns in CA, we were unable to finish what we started.
Phoenix Sky Harbor had more activity then we had seen in a long time. While at the gate, I had this masked man (yes everybody had a mask) approach me and ask “Are you Tim Fruth?” (something like that) Lo and behold it was Quinn Ashton from St. Johns, Arizona. I had actually refereed some of his high school football games he played in and later on we have officiated multiple high school games together. We got to visit for awhile since he and his wife were on our flight to San Diego to catch a plane to SLC to visit their son. For the record, everybody wearing a mask really throws me off. That was a cool start to our road trip.
Once arriving in San Diego, we decided to roll our luggage to the Little Italy area to pick up our rental car since we had plenty of time before our scheduled time. This 1.5 mile hike was a great warm up to what was ahead. Carolyn probably thought it was because I was being frugal but truth be told, it was a beautiful morning for a brisk walk and it the perfect warmup for my stiff joints.
Most people from Arizona, including Carolyn and I, visit San Diego for beach time. Carolyn and I have added some local hikes to our times in San Diego that have included Potato Chip rock and most recently the Mission Trails Regional Park Five Peak Challenge. We had previously hiked North Fortuna and South Fortuna in January 2020 on a beautiful day and on a rainy day on March 12, 2020 we completed Cowles Mountain and Pyles Peak. We had planned to return and hike our final peak, Kwaay Paay Peak in April but Covid restrictions put that on hold. We would have traveled but CA had specific restrictions that basically prohibited us from going and staying in a hotel and transportation was problematic.
The morning was beautiful and Carolyn and I decided we would add some mileage to our hike be putting a loop together after our summit. We started our summit to Kwaay Paay be hiking from a parking area on the furthest SE side on a trail that skirts a housing area and then connecting back to the main trail and on to the summit. There were few hikers to be encountered making social distancing not just a saying but a reality. It seems that most of the ones we encountered were hiking with a face mask and we just weren’t going to do that. The elevation gains on the summit trail are about 875 feet over a well defined trail that is rocky in places and could be slippery when wet. At the summit we just enjoyed the view of San Diego to the south and west and the peacefulness of being at the top. The trail is rated moderate to hard but it is short so not too much of a struggle.
On our trip down the mountain we took the first fork in the trail to head towards the San Diego River and the Grasslands Loop Trail. Our hike ended up over five miles with a total elevation gain of 999 feet. The grassland areas are beautiful in their own way and the loop is a great way to see a different side of the area. We were able to avoid others and just take our time enjoying the warm sunshine and the time of being together out in mother nature.
Our next stop is the Hilton in Torrey Pines for a couple nights. It is a beautiful property by the golf course with views of the ocean but there is nobody there. It’s just different. After getting settled, we head out for dinner and a beer. No hike for us would be complete with out a stop for local beers so we head to Draft Republic located in La Jolla. Really a cool spot with a great selection of local craft beers and good eats. We get to enjoy one of our favorites from Latitude 33, Honey Hips. Great way to end Day One.
Day two starts with a strange way to do breakfast. No indoor seating and menu but we get a to go omelet and sit by the pool ready to start hiking in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, named for the rare Torrey Pine tree. It is a beautiful area on the coastline with some interesting history. During the day we log over 6.5 miles of hiking on a variety of trails and find some time along the beach. With highs around 68 and sunny, we stroll through a variety of terrain. There are many out on this Saturday enjoying the beautiful San Diego weather.
Since hiking and exploring craft breweries is one of our things, our first stop is the Viewpoint Brewing Company. The place is packed for having social distanced seating and we get to sit outdoors in a beautiful waterfront setting. This place is very popular with the locals and we were glad we found it. Excellent beer and some good fish tacos. We end up with an Eddie Van Lager and a Big Hat Blonde. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like my blondes, beer that is.
Our final stop of the day is New English Brewing another cool spot with a great patio. The sun has gone down and it has become cold so it’s just a quick top to try something new. One of the many things I’ve learned is that to remain open in California, patrons at all breweries (bars etc) must order food and just can’t have a drink. I’m not certain how this practice stops the spread of Covid but it is interesting. So we have to order food from the taco truck just to have a drink. If one was to go to multiple places it could get expensive and lead to some unnecessary and unhealthy weight gain. Carolyn and I manage to split food orders to keep our calorie intake down. Our choice at New English Brewing is the Blueberry Blonde. It is very tasty and has a great purplish color that adds to the experience.
Our trip is done with some great hikes and great beers as we have to get on the first flight out of town to Phoenix since it is the only one that has seats for us standby passengers. Our flight leaves in the six o’clock hour so it’s up early to drop off our car and catch Lyft to the airport. Another November adventure complete. With Covid numbers still on the rise, Carolyn and I are trying to get some outdoor adventures completed while still honoring social distancing and traveling with our masks. Mission accomplished.