Archive for October, 2009

Eagle Peak – Among the raptors – 09/10/2009

I was off to a late start on a scorching day in San Diego. It couldn’t be helped. Once again, I drove through downtown Ramona and was presented with several options for cheeseburger satisfaction. This time, I opted for the Cheeseburger Deluxe from Jack-in-the-Crack.

And by crack, I mean box. And by box, I mean there is no box any more. Just a weird red cube that is the new logo. There isn’t any graphic Jack on the logo any more, just the word “Jack.” The clown is only in the commercials and on posters inside. You’d think one would take more advantage of the branding potential of an easily recognizable large-headed spokesperson. Nope, just a red box with a scripted “Jack.”

But I digress…

Regardless of any logo-identity issues, the cheeseburger proved to be worlds better than the forgettable cheeseburger I had on my perilous trip to Mount Gower (See earlier post.) I don’t even remember where I got the other burger. But this one was great. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have 4 hours of waterless wandering as I did on the previous hike. Or perhaps this burger was just plain better.

I drove past Wynola into the rolling grasslands just southeast of Julian, CA, and nearly drove off the road while enjoying the view. I then passed an overturned car in a field in the Inaja Reservation that showed me how perilous this trip could be if I wasn’t careful.

Overturned car in the Inaja Reservation

I will keep my eyes on the road

With temperatures flirting with the mid 90’s, I started up the trail. One part of my mind was on the burger I would eat at the top and the other part of my mind was on the soda that would be waiting for me back in my car at the trailhead. Another part of my mind was on the dusty trail that lead upward through the sun-baked grasslands. Another part of my mind was humming the Hot Dog song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. (If you don’t know what I am talking about, then you simply haven’t had children in the past few years.)

Will I eat a cheeseburger on Cuyamaca Peak? Sources say 'Yes'

Will I eat a cheeseburger on Cuyamaca Peak in the future? Sources say "Yes"

I scooted down the trail, wondering aloud why I chose to hike on a day that I knew would get to 100 degrees when I spied a familiar sight. Once again, I found a mylar balloon tangled into the sage scrub. This one was nowhere near as cute at the hello kitty balloon in my earlier post. I imagined some child weeping for days at the loss of this fading, flaccid balloon. I crumpled it up and stowed it in my pack. As I noticed the pink color staining my hands, part of my mind wondered how long it had been out here. Another part of my mind wondered if the colors would wash out easily, if at all. A third part of my mind was wondering if it was made in China and has lead-based ingredients that were causing serious reproductive harm (Thanks, Wikipedia). The last part of my mind was singing “Wheels on the Bus” (see previous child comment).

Yet another mylar balloon in the backcountry

Was this balloon killing me softly?

I made it to the peak and was presented with glorious views of Boulder Creek and El Cajon Mountain. It was as if there was a canyon dividing Ramona from the area around Julian. Actually, there is a canyon dividing Ramona from the area around Julian, and I was dangling my legs into it (well really a perpendicular canyon, but close enough). There were many birds taking advantage of the drop off and soaring on the thermals. I am sure they were eying my cheeseburger, ready to swoop down and snatch it from my hungry grasp. Luckily, I swallowed the thing practically whole and managed not to drop it, or myself, into the abyss.

Enjoying cheesy goodness over oblivion

Enjoying cheesy goodness over oblivion

Boulder Creek with El Capitan beyond

Boulder Creek with El Capitan beyond

Red-tailed hawk over Eagle Peak

Red-tailed hawk over Eagle Peak

I got down safely the way I had some, nourished by the cheeseburger and the thought that I didn’t need to steal water from a garden hose to avoid dying in the backcountry. That’s always a good thing.

Part of my mind was of the journey behind me. Another part of my mind was on the journey ahead. A third part of my mind was singing, “We’re going on a trip in our favorite rocket ship…”

Yes, I have a child.


October 29, 2009 at 5:31 pm 1 comment

Rusk Mountain – New York’s Catskills

After our last off-trail hike to Moose Mountain a few weeks ago, Holly wanted to learn more about map and compass navigation. Normally, I do the route planning, give her a compass bearing to follow, and she gets us to the destination through the woods very well. But she wanted to understand better how that compass bearing was arrived at. She suggested a trailless Catskill summit, since deer season hadn’t yet opened to our south, and I chose Rusk Mountain as a simple and relatively short learning exercise. It’s about 3/4 mile on a trail, and then about another 1.25 miles on a straight line to the summit. It’s quite steep, and there are no views, but it would serve our purpose well.

Arriving at the trailhead, I helped her understand the map and the route and she came up with a bearing she wanted to follow. And off we went. It was a beautiful day to be out, with temps in the 50s, no wind, and an extremely blue sky as a backdrop to the yellow beech leaves still remaining on the trees.


After struggling upward through the beeches (and a few especially nasty sons of beeches), she nailed the summit dead on. We knew this because on the trailless Catskill summits, the Catskill 3500 Club maintains canisters where hikers register a successful ascent. This then qualifies them, after completing all of the 3500-foot summits, for membership in the Club. We’re both already members, but the canister was still a welcome sight.


The summit is otherwise very nondescript, with no views whatsoever of the surrounding territory. We ate our lunches, and of course the requisite cheeseburger, signed the register, and then headed back down.


On the way down, I made a small mental error, following a bearing that caused us to intersect a stream a little farther up its bed than I would have liked. It wasn’t a big deal, just a little rocky and sloppy for a ways as we followed it down, but then we were back on the trail and reached the car in good time. Ice cream at the Prattsville Diner completed a great day in the woods.

October 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

Pharaoh Mountain – Adirondacks

At 2533 feet, Pharaoh Mountain is the highest summit in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area of the Adirondacks.   (Oddly, there are 2 identical entries here for Pharaoh in the Essex County, NY Summits list – do I get double points?)

Today, I joined a Schenectady ADK trip to its summit, approaching from the south via Pharaoh Lake. It was a 13.8-mile round trip, longer than we had realized because a former 1.1-mile road to a more interior trailhead was now unmaintained and impassable to all but high-clearance vehicles.


As we reached the end of the road and the old trailhead, the morning fog was just burning off.


Further along, we came to a very large beaver dam and pond. This shot only shows about a quarter of the total length of this dam.


Our destination, Pharaoh Mountain, towered above the pond behind the dam.


On the summit, clouds were beginning to fill in, and it was cool and windy. We ate lunch and enjoyed the view to the east toward Vermont in the far distance, with part of Pharaoh Lake directly below.


The summit has several views in different directions. Here, we’re looking more northwest toward the Adirondack High Peaks on the horizon.


Since the forecast was calling for an increasing chance of rain as the day wore on, we left the summit and made good time back to the outlet of Pharaoh Lake. The sky was getting gloomier by the minute, but we never did get any rain from the ominous clouds reflected in the lake.


The last 3.6 miles back to the cars seemed like an eternity, but the old road provided good walking and we reached the cars about 8 hours after we started.

October 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm 2 comments

Warner Mountain, MA.

Warner Mtn, Great Barrington Mass. Cheeseburger consumed. 1 nasty Cumberland Farms Cheese Burger

There’s an easy way and a hard (er) way to do most things. Warner Mountain just outside great Barrington MA could be a lay-up during ski season… as it is home to Ski Butternut. Grab a cheeseburger in the base lodge when the lifts are running and you could be dining in style at the summit 10 minutes later. That would be the easy way.

Of course why make it easy? Mid morning in Great Barrington is NOT a great time to try and find a cheeseburger on a Sunday. When all else fails out east you can hit a Cumberland Farms convenience store, they are just slightly less common than Dunkin Donuts. Cumby came through with one of their pre-cooked, microwaveable, cheeseburgers. $3.19 with have a half life of 5000 years. So once the deal had been done we set out to conquer our first cheese burger summit. Fellow summiteer Jeremiah wisely volunteered to man the camera after taking one look at the Cumby cheeseburger. Following ski trails and a counter clockwise circular route wound our way to the top in roughly one hour. Fall foliage was just a few days short of peak making great viewing and scattered clouds kept things cool.

Upon reaching the summit unwrapped the cheese burger and said grace. Not because of any deep religious beliefs. But after looking at the cheeseburger it seemed like a good idea.

As we plan future summits more time will be spent with the strategy of securing cheeseburgers before hand. And you can bet there will be more cheeseburger summits in the future!

Matt – Fairfield, CT

October 16, 2009 at 7:05 am Leave a comment

Moose Mountain – Adirondacks

Every year, on Columbus Day Weekend, Holly and I head to the southern Adirondacks and bushwhack about 90 minutes to the cliffs on Moose Mountain. While the more popular areas of the Adirondacks are teeming with leaf-peepers, we’ve never seen another soul on this hike. There’s no trail, and we use GPS, map, and compass to navigate to the cliffs on this isolated summit.

Today, many of the more brightly colored leaves had already fallen victim to last week’s high winds, but the yellows and oranges were still brilliant in spots.

This summit is only about an hour from home, and we’ve hiked it every year since 2001 on this holiday weekend. While this year’s colors were pretty subdued, it’s always nice to be able to just park the car on the side of the road and set off through the woods completely on our own, and find our way to these unspoiled views. In the next few years, there are plans to build trails here, and we’re not looking forward to the day when this becomes a more popular destination.


October 12, 2009 at 6:11 pm 2 comments

The Mission

To encourage, enable, and document the consumption of a Cheeseburger on every summit on earth.
October 2009
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