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post #31 of (permalink) Old 01-14-2022, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
I ran into giant orange hornet. First time I see one in nature. It was crawling right across the trail; .
Yikes! If I was to guess, I'd say you ran into a "Cicada Killer" Wasp, they're big with orangey type colours. They can grow to over 4 cm long. They hunt and kill large insects like Cicadas or Grasshoppers. Fortunately they tend to be solitary but they have a powerful venomous sting. I studied these things when doing entomology studies following my time at UC Berkeley. You did well to just let it pass

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphecius_speciosus

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post #32 of (permalink) Old 01-15-2022, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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I am definitely not an expert for bugs, but it looked exactly like this
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https://xerces.org/blog/an-unlikely-...-north-america

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post #33 of (permalink) Old 01-15-2022, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
I am definitely not an expert for bugs, but it looked exactly like this
Attachment 290420

https://xerces.org/blog/an-unlikely-...-north-america
if it looked like that then maybe it really was an asian hornet ... if so, they're evil. Certainly present in California now. A few nests have been spotted in coastal BC (Nanaimo) + Washington State then destroyed by pest control.

Ugh

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post #34 of (permalink) Old 01-15-2022, 04:21 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by xj6response View Post
if it looked like that then maybe it really was an asian hornet ... if so, they're evil. Certainly present in California now. A few nests have been spotted in coastal BC (Nanaimo) + Washington State then destroyed by pest control.

Ugh

Maybe you were right about Cicada. This was apparently quite an issue last yr, but experts said same as you

https://www.cbs8.com/article/life/an...7-eaeda9198e56


Wish I took a pic. But I freaked out
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post #35 of (permalink) Old 01-17-2022, 01:14 AM
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Cicada. This was apparently quite an issue last yr, but experts said same as you


Wish I took a pic. But I freaked out
"Cicada killer" wasp populations rise + fall in fairly steady cycles. I heard they were nasty in SoCal the past few years. Like some of the other large wasps/hornets in their family of insects, only female Cicada Killer wasps sting and of course it's the female that is larger. I've never been stung by one of them but apparently it's not much worse than a yellow jacket wasp. I don't know, to me they look like they could do a lot of damage! I wouldn't want to try it, their stingers are quite long

The "Tarantula Hawk" hornets were very active last year. They are nasty little buggers, one of the most painful stings of any wasp/hornet species.

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post #36 of (permalink) Old 01-17-2022, 03:15 AM Thread Starter
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Jan 22 update on trail #10 - Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve


Natural Preserve flanked by Sorrento Valley to the west and Black Mountain Road east. It is really better suited for mtn. cycling but I don't have bike with me so I just went for a walk same as I did sometimes on Sundays when I lived here. Started from Sorrento, crossed to north side of Penasquitos Creek on Wagon Wheel Crossing, then after mandatory stop at Waterfall area continued to Carson Crossing and then back to Sorrento on south side, for total of ~12km & 3 hrs. I am now documenting these methodically on personal site so here is map & elevation profile


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Preserve Map:
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Normal Sorrento parking lot below Qualcomm I'd sometime walk down to during lunch break when I worked there was closed for reasons I don't understand; but no problem, I just drove down about 1km west on Sorrento where some businesses are & parked there. This meant rather unusual trailhead but rather soon I merged with usual trail. Usual break at rock outcrop above waterfall with burning sunset skies were highlight of the day. Here are some pics (Jan 16 '22)


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[Bridge at Wagon Wheel crossing in quite a bit of disrepair - compare to my own shot from '18:
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[Junctions on North Side are really well marked; distances are in miles]


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[Penasquitos Creek Waterfall; it is possible to clamber back to south side around here, and in fact Google Maps show this "crossing" as full blue line, which means someone carrying that revolving Google camera crossed here to make street view. It is NOT trivial]


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[Pano atop rock outcrop on north side of waterfall looking east towards Black Mtn. area; my usual spot for break and bit of contemplation]


Sunset colors really came out but as it often happens I did not bring my big camera & all the limitations of pocket camera small sensor are evident. Still colors were quite special; coast was probably place to be this evening
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This is Carson crossing ~1km east from waterfall, very sturdy bridge
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If you are in the area, definitely place to come and ride your bike. Hills are short and not very steep, and views are quite decent. Full report on personal site with high-res photos from both trips posted in this thread here
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Last edited by zeljkok; 01-18-2022 at 03:22 AM.
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post #37 of (permalink) Old 01-21-2022, 03:54 AM Thread Starter
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Trail #15: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park -- Mt. Cuyamaca

Mt. Cuyamaca is second highest in San Diego County, with elevation of 1985m (only 20 feet lower than Hot Springs Mountain in Warner Springs). It is in Cuyamaca Rancho California State Park, area less than hour drive east from metro San Diego along I-8, and then SR 79. 4 years ago I posted terrific hike to Stonewall Peak (Trail #9 earlier in this thread). Cuyamaca is directly across. I've hiked Cuyamaca when I lived in San Diego, and remembered it as mixed bag -- terrific views, but entire ascent on paved fireroad. Wanting to spice it up a bit, I decided to do bit of a loop - parked at Los Vaqueros Trailhead (same as for Stonewall 4 yrs ago), walked back up the road for ~1km to Paso Picacho, hiked up Cuyamaca normal way, then on return looped back via Azalea Springs and Milk Ranch Road back to SR79. This is the map, not showing SR79 road walk section done at beginning:

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Additional reason was parking - they charge you $10 for day parking at Paso Picacho/Cuyamaca trailhead, and there are signs at shoulder both ways "No Parking at any time". Honestly, when exploring the nature, I find human imposed restrictions by far the biggest challenge. Fireroad was mostly as remembered - steep, but not too long (4.5km with 550m elevation gain). I imagine strong cyclists could make it, for a blast ride down. Some 10 min below the summit I found super viewpoint with bench and had lunch feasting on distant views of San Jacinto Mountains and Anza Borrego State Park. On top it was very cold - elevation almost 2000m - and I had to put layer and windbreaker. Highest point has telecom tower and fence, but I bushwhacked around for open southerly views down to Mexico. There were several snow drifts here too (!). On return option was to utilize Conejos trail splitting off fireroad near the top; posted distance to Milk ranch Road was 3.5km, but I wanted to see Azalea Springs so I took the road. Some really nice sunset colors as I was descending last leg back to SR79. Photo story:


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[Cuyamaca Rancho California State Park at Trailhead, after I walked back up the road for some 20min; it was closed. Nearby Paso Picacho picnic area has $10 paid parking; kiosk was closed & it was self registration. There were couple of cars inside]

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[Pano east from lower Fireroad part to Stonewall peak]

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[Pano north from that terrific viewpoint with bench ~10 min below the summit. It was hazy but I could still see snow on San Jacinto and even spot white dome of Palomar Observatory. See labels]

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[Aerial Telephoto of Cuyamaca Lake; it is popular fishing spot. SR79 continues beyond to Julian]

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[125mm zoom to snow covered San Jacinto Mtn]

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["Summit" table at end of Fireroad - but again this is not highest point & I trashed up the bush and by the fence for few minutes up]

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[Pano south from highest point by Telecom Tower area towards Mexico and Baja]

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[Azalean Spring Table on return - but there was no water]

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[Nice colors as I was making my way down Milk Ranch Road back to Los Vaqueros Parking]

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[Elevation Profile for the day - sans initial 1km SR79 walk]


Now that I am quite familiar with this area I have a suggestion for anyone looking for full day loop trip. Park at Los Vaqueros (1km north from Paso Picacho; it is free). Hike up Cuyamaca via Milk Ranch Road - Azalea Spring - Conejos trail; only last 10 min will be on asphalt. Descent Fireroad to Paso Picacho, then go up Stonewall - trailhead directly across campground entrance. Then from Stonewall descend via what I described in Trail #9 back to parking. It will be 6-7hrs day but great hiking. If you are doing this in winter, start hiking around 10am aiming to be done around 5pm - this will also avoid rush hour on San Diego freeways both ways


Full report with high-res photos and downloadable GPS track here

Last edited by zeljkok; 01-22-2022 at 02:15 AM.
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post #38 of (permalink) Old Yesterday, 04:00 AM Thread Starter
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Trail #16: Lake Hodges - Fletcher Point

Couple of weeks ago during hike on South Side of Lake Hodges I noticed trail below Fletcher point coming on east side of the lake from direction of Hodges Dam. Bit of research made me realize this is yet another of these Hodges gems I totally missed while living in RB. Trailhead is at top of Alva Road in Rancho Bernardo Highland residential 4S farm. New and still relatively unknown, but well defined trail descends to Hodges shoreline in about 30-40minutes; it is known as "Lake Hodges from 4S". From there rough trail continues along the slopes towards Fletcher Point. Just as I thought this would be "walk in the park" - I lost the trail. On return I realized where I went wrong - but if you are here first time, it IS not obvious. My inclination built over the years is that whenever in doubt to go high, but in this case I should have gone low; trail could be found below class 2 rock step hidden by bushes. Instead I went high and it was "welcome to the magic world" - California style. One of worst bushwhacks for about half an hour. It would actually be quite dangerous in summer because of rattlers. Even like this I was afraid of poison oak frequent in the area, and although it was warm put on goretex and gloves that are always with me. Eventually I rejoined the trail, and rest to Fletcher was indeed super enjoyable 'walk in the park'. Exceptionally clear day and simply breathtaking panorama from the viewpoint with US Flag, that is quickly becoming my favorite Hodges spot. Return was without the hitch; there is alternative of following trail up to ridge where private road to Ralph Ranch (Ralph, founder of grocery chain Ralphs actually lives there) - but I didn't fancy getting chased by dogs or something; besides I was curious to find out where I went wrong; coming from Fletcher it is a non-issue. Photo story:


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[Del Dios Gorge after quick 20-30min gradual descent from Alva Road. This is "Lake Hodges from 4S" trail]

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[Looking north towards Fletcher Point at distance after leaving "Lake Hodges from 4S" trail. It all looked too easy, little did I know]

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["Trouble Junction" and where I went wrong. Upper trail looked better defined and even had footprints for awhile before ending in bush]

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[This is from lower trail at top of rock step & I couldn't see trail below so I went back to upper trail. I should have descended instead]

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[This is that rock step I should have descended and trail would be obvious. Pic taken on return]

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[And this is why it can be dangerous hiking here without long pants and in short sleeves]


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[Beautiful Lake Hodges Panorama on final ascent to Fletcher Point. This is very, very special place to me]

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[Another pano from Fletcher Point showing both arms of the lake; to the left is that "South Hodges Trail" I hiked couple of weeks ago, and to the right trail from 4S / Del Dios gorge]

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[And one more pano just below the summit on other side, with US Flag and Del Dios gorge to the right]

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[Sunset over Del Dios Gorge on return, already back on "Lake Hodges from 4S" trail]


Took about 4 hrs return, but this included an hour on top having lunch, taking photos and just being happy in total solitude. About 8km return with ~180m elev. loss and ~150m elev.gain, mostly on good trail -- if you don't lose it as I did. Map and elevation profile:
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Highly, highly recommended if you are in the area. Lake Hodges and San Dieguito River Park is real gem

Last edited by zeljkok; Yesterday at 04:05 AM.
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