Dixon Lake, Escondido CA

Dixon Lake is one of those hidden gems in Southern California that is right in front of your nose but you can’t see it. The lake is at the edge of the City of Escondido, the nice part of Escondido. We drove up this street that took us to up the small hill and right at the entrance of Dixon Lake.

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The lake is drinking water for the city below. How it is a drinking water is beyond me since there are fishes living in that water along with ducks, turtles and other animals. The point is you can’t swim in that water but you can do so much there. Fishing is a big thing there, they even have fishing tournaments. It is a big trout, bass and catfish fishing waters.

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The best part of Dixon besides fishing is camping. The campground is big and has everything you need from showers to flushing toilets to a small store. It has great views of the city at night or you can decide to just get a campground that looks over the lake. There is wild life so you got to be careful with the food. I like the fact that you can reserve a campground and no matter the time you arrive you will have a spot waiting for you. This is extremely important to us because we are planning on camping on the weekends after work. By the time we drive to the campground it will be late a night so having a place to sleep is a blessing.

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Another thing I like is that the rangers check on the campsites every 1-2 hours. This includes at night and early morning hours. This helps with keeping the noise down at night to enjoy a peaceful camping experience.

On my last blog I mention how I was on the fence between vlogging and enjoying family/friend time. Well this trip I balance that out. I took a few hours to vlog and take photos of the place by myself. This gave me the chance to explore and test my vlogging abilities (which currently suck) and also enjoy time with the people I care about.

I think it worked out great and now I am able to share the video I made and photos I took with everyone without compromising family/friend time. I will from now on take a few hours to do my photography, vlogging and exploring before I return and set the cameras down and enjoy family/friend time.

Torrey Pines State Reserve

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I finally made it to Torrey Pines State Reserve! I am excited because not only is this a beautiful place but because there is a funny back story to finding this place. I will post that story in Through Back Thursday series it will be called Black’s Beach. This blog is a few months late, many because I forgot all about it.

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Visitor Center

I had a choice of either go to San Juan Capistrano Mission or Border Field State Park. At the end I ended up going to Torrey Pines State Reserve and I am glad because I can take it off my New Year’s Resolution List. This place gets packed with visitors so keep in mind that you will see many people on the trail during beautiful California weather. We hiked several trails and each trail had its own unique feature.

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What is so special about Torrey Pines State Reserve besides its beauty, it’s the Torrey Pines itself. These pine trees don’t grown anywhere else besides here in Torrey Pines Reserve. I took my nephew with me to get him interested in visiting state parks and also collecting patches. At first he was not really interested in the patch. After finishing several trails he wanted his patch. It was like a trophy to him.

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What amazed me was the flower bloom this year. It made the park even more beautiful than it already is.

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Point Reyes National Seashore

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View from Woodward Valley Trail

I am very happy to remove “Backpacking” off my Bucket List.  It is such an amazing feeling to prepare for an epic life experience and be able to share it with others.
The backpacking trip to Point Reyes National Seashore was supposed to be about 18 miles. It turned out to be about 23.3 miles. I left all the planning to my mountain man expert who has many years of experience in backpacking. He taught me how to shop for backpacking gear and what to expect. I would have been lost without him.

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Hiking Map
Our Backpacking route

The plan was to do an easy backpack trip since it was my first time. We would start at Bear Valley Visitor Center and hike up to Mt. Wittenberg on the Mt. Wittenberg Trail which has an elevation gain of 1,407ft. Mt. Wittenberg would lead us to Sky trail which would bring us to our first campground, Sky Camp. This was suppose to be the hardest part of our backpacking trip because we would climb on the first day. 1,407 ft may not seem like much to may people but to an out of shape woman who gets paid to sits on her butt all day this was hard. Next day we would hike out of Sky Camp toward Woodward Valley trail which would connect to Coast Camp and to our second campground, Coast Camp. On the third day we would hike out of Coast camp and walk along Coast trail to Bear Valley Trail and then to Glen Loop to our last campground, Glen Camp. On the last day we would hike out and return to Bear Valley Visitor Center.

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The first day was short, hard and sweet. The climb was hard but not as hard as I though it would be. We did stop frequently mostly because I was trying to catch my breath. The trail was mostly in the shade which made it easy for us.

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When we arrived to Sky Camp we were happily surprised that we had a great camp site. It was surrounded by overgrown shrub and a tilted tree. It was private compared to other sites and it had shade. Once we settled down we realized that the camp site was not so private because our neighbor’s could see into our camp site. I really didn’t care because I just wanted to eat and rest.

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Sky Campground, Site # 4

Day two was a beautiful hike down the mountain along the Woodward Valley Trail. This was one of my favorite trails. Part of it was mostly in the shade of huge thin trees while the other part was overlooking the ocean. I could not stop taking photos.

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Woodward Valley Trail

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First view of the ocean along the Woodward Valley Trail

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Coast Trail
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Coast Campground

We arrived at Coast Camp late morning but it gave us enough time to explore. This was an extremely windy area both in the campground and the beach. At times it felt like we were being sand blasted to a halt. This did not stop us from exploring the area. There was a huge eucalyptus tree at the entrance of the beach. What a magnificent site that was. The water was very cold and nobody seem to want to get in the water, maybe because the current was also strong. It did get cold so we retired early.

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While I was setting up for a time lapse video of the sunset at the beach I came to the horrible realization that my extra batteries were discharged.  What happen was that I packed my extra batteries on the side mesh pocket of my backpack, a very accessible area in case I needed to change batteries.  The problem was that when we stuffed the backpacks inside the car trunk we placed two big water containers next to the packs.  The water leaked and our packs got wet.  My camera batteries were soaked even before starting my journey.  I thought I would be able to photograph the while trip with just one battery but turns out that I take a lot of photos.  When my only battery was low I had to relay on my cellphone which also had low battery.  I was so upset that day because the photo quality would be lower then my good Nikon camera.

Day three was the hardest for me, mostly because I did not pack correctly.  It make matters worse the Coast trail did not have much shade and the sun beat down on us. We had to take a long break at Kelham Beach trailhead because I needed to fuel up for the climb to Glen Camp.

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Coast Trail
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Coast Trail

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The mile or so distance from Bear Valley trail to Glen Camp was by far the hardest hike of the whole trip. It felt like a never-ending trail to the highest mountain in the US. I had to stop to catch my breath every few minutes. Every single curve along the trail I would force myself to think the campground was on the other side. Every time I came around the corner I was disappointed to see even more trail going uphill. I drank water, eat snacks and just hoped that it would end but nothing helped. By the time I reach the campground I was not sure if I could make it to the camp site on a small hill. All I could think about is taking off the pack, eating and showering. Mostly shower because I felt like I had not showered in a year.

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Bear Valley Trail

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Glen Campground

The final day was so easy and we did it in no time. I packed my pack the correct way. What a difference a well packed backpack makes. The mile hike from Glen Camp to Bear Valley trail was so easy I couldn’t believe I was struggling a day before. Since our trip ended on a weekend we saw many hikers along the Bear Valley trail. It was sad that the trip had ended but I was on top of the world because I had checked off backpacking off my Bucket List.

Although most people do their first backpacking trip in their early teens or 20s I have to encourage the older generation to go out there and backpack. It really refreshes your mind and relaxes your body although you get a good beating out of it. This trip challenged me in a way that I never thought possible. I am stronger than what I think I am. Most importantly I realized that in life you don’t need much to enjoy life. So travel, take pictures and live life. Thank you for reading my blog.

Never to Late to Backpack

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Backpacking was been on my Bucket List for many years. As time passed by I wondered when I would have the time to learn about backpacking and most importantly find an expert to take me to the outdoors.  Most people do their first backpacking experience in their teens or younger, others in their early adulthood.  Here I am an adventurer at heart but I am no spring chicken.

I considered going on a REI backpacking group tour but didn’t feel comfortable going with a bunch of strangers. Especially since I would most likely hold the group back due to lack of conditioning. I also didn’t have the gear and I knew it would be a lot of money. So the years went by and I just kept my dream of backpacking that one day I would backpack.  My dream came true a few days ago.  I was guided by a special person who has been backpacking for most of his life.

I bought my gear which took a good chunk out of my tax refund. I went to REI and bought everything needed. Thanks to my mountain man the trip was planned and all I needed to do is condition and pack my backpack.

The problem is that I love the outdoors but I am too lazy to exercise.  In preparation for the backpacking trip I only walked 30 minutes per day for 4 days. When it came to packing I wanted to pack everything just on case I needed it. In normal city trips I pack everything including the kitchen sink, this time I was restricted.

I had many concerns about the trip but once I was outdoors all those concerns went away.  I carrying my heavy pack for 23.3 miles in the Point Reyes National Seashore.  I had good days and bad days but overall the hard work and sweat gave me new appreciation and a sense of calmness that I had no felt before.  Stay tune for a more detail blog of my backpacking trip.