A trip to Pine Creek Wilderness in Cleveland National Forest
This past Monday was a holiday here — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — and one of my Meetup groups, San Diego Urban Exploration, was going exploring. First you have to understand that we urban explorers don’t explore urbanity. No. Rather, we get out of the city and go explore the, uh, the boondocks. The boondocks look somewhat like this:
In fact, the boondocks we were going to explore looked exactly like that! And this:
Our goal was to get to “the pool” in the Pine Creek Wilderness Area:
Since Jim needed the car yesterday, I took the San Diego Trolley to the Grantville Station, which is where all of us were meeting anyway. Convenient!
There were some fall colors lingering at the Grantville Station.
A great start to what obviously was going to be a great day!
I was going to carpool with Jason, an important part of this story. There were thirteen in our group, and seven of them had dogs, another important part of this story. Jason had his dog, a most adorable beagle named Koa. Sadly (you’ll under the “sadly” part at the end of this story), I don’t have a picture of Koa.
The drive out to the parking area is about thirty miles.
On the way we saw a helicopter.
Now helicopters aren’t exactly rare here in San Diego since the military and the California Department of Foresty uses them.
However, this helicopter was a little unusual:
The trailhead looked inviting….
….until I started reading some of the signs:
Whomever was in charge of marketing for this place certainly knew their business. The trail looked absolutely nothing like the trailhead — a nice wide trail? Ha! Within a couple hundred feet (and we were going 8½ miles), it was barely wide enough for a dog, much less an adult person.
For about eight miles of the trail, the only way I knew that it was a trail was because there were twelve people in front of me. Thus I had to stay rather close to them, or risk getting lost in the boondocks!
There were lots of horses on the trail, which really amazed me.
I don’t trust my own steps on trails like this, so I’m sure not going to trust a horse that weighs ten times what I do. One misstep and it’s a thousand feet down the rocky hillside.
The horses in that second horse picture we had met in the parking lot. The second horse, the one being walked, is “inexperienced.” They were across the valley and halfway up the mountainside, which is where we were going, the Secret Canyon Trail.
Those two horses are another important part of this story. Remember, we had dogs with us:
The scenery was beautiful:
There are mortar holes at the pool. Mortar holes look like this:
Mortar holes are found mostly in areas that have oak trees. They were created and used by Indians to ground acorns and wash the resulting mash to leach it of toxins.
I also found a rock that reminded me of a big cat in profile, ears and eye whisker poking up and nose pointing out:
We caught up with the two horses at about 8½ miles. Perhaps I should say that one of our dogs caught up with them. Both of the horses apparently were being walked in the oak valley (you can see the oak valley clearly in the center of the very first picture), and Ash, our largest dog, started barking, spooking the two horses. The two ladies lost control of their horses, which them came running up the rocky hillside trail, which is where we were. It was a thousand feet straight up on one side of the trail and a thousand feet straight down on the other side. The trail was only wide enough for one person, certainly not thirteen frightened people and two frightened, stampeding horses.
At this time I was the second to the last in our group and Jason and Koa, his beagle, were behind me. I had only a split second to try to climb the sheer rocks or make myself as flat as possible against them to make way for the stampeding horses. Jason did the same, but Koa took off running in front of the horses.
Jason went after Koa and after about 15 minutes waiting for them to come back, we decided we better turn around and go back. I had a bloody arm from bashing into the rocks and manzanita, but fortunately, I was the only one injured, and it was just superficial scratches. The blood everywhere made it look worse than it was.
On the hike back, everyone we met said that they had seen “two horses chasing a dog.” Eight and a half miles later, back in the parking lot, we found the two ladies and their horses relaxing. Koa was nowhere to be found.
The two ladies didn’t bother inquiring if we were alright. All they did was curse the dogs and us for having the dogs. Since this is a family blog, the cursing cannot be repeated here. Quite frankly, I’ve never heard such language come from a female.
Jason and I went down to the Forestry Fire Station hoping that someone might have found Koa and turned him in there. No. Koa is microchipped and has a collar with owner information tag, but Jason didn’t have his cell phone. Jason and I went back to San Diego. He dropped me off at my place, went to get his phone, and headed back out to the Wilderness, intent on spending the night in the parking lot hoping that Koa would eventually find his way back there.
As far as I know right now, Jason and Koa were not reunited.
I’m still sore physically from traipsing seventeen miles through the boondocks, and I’m still stunned mentally from someone I was with losing his dog out there. I feel so bad. I can’t imagine what Jason must be going through.
I know there are stories about dogs and cats wandering around for months at a time and finding their way home, and beagles have excellent noses, so let’s hope and pray that our little Koa eventually finds his way home.
And the final part of the story: Remember I said that Jim needed the car yesterday? Well, I took the car keys with me, so he had to take the San Diego Trolley to his work. I did pick him up, though, so he wouldn’t have to depend on the Trolley on a holiday to get home late at night.
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