Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lake Cuyamaca, Julian, San Diego County

Lake Cuyamaca, Julian, San Diego County
One of the popular mountain retreats in San Diego is the historic gold mining town in Julian. Less than 40 miles from San Diego Bay, is the Cuyamaca Mountains which has the second highest peak in San Diego County, next to Warner Springs. The town of Julian, which is an official California Historical Landmark, is set in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Julian experienced a gold rush in the 1860s
Stonewall Mine- California's most productive Gold mine
( in 1893, $2,000,000 of gold mined in this site only with a 30 ft shaft - and that $2M was 117 years ago)
and while people were trying to wrestle gold deep beneath the Earth, another man in the name of James Madison brought a wagon loaded with young apple trees, and they flourished in the mountains. Today, the gold mines have been closed and is now part of protected archaelogical sites of CA State Parks, but the apple industry flourished.
Fallen Apples on the trail @ Lake Cuyamaca
Julian is now more famous for its apple cider and apple pie industry. Though the gold industry is now but a part of California's history, but every autumn, the oak leaves turn a crisp gold surrounding the closed gold mines.
The Gold are now in the Leaves
Historic Stonewall Mine Trail
I have never witnessed the Cuyamaca Mountains at its best, when its slopes were richly adorned with lush oak and pine forests. In October of 2003, someone got lost in the trails of Cuyamaca Mountains, he started a fire for rescuers to see him. Driven by Santa Ana winds, that fire burned out of control, burning more than 280,000 acres of land and claiming several lives. All of Cuyamaca, but the area around the lake got burned from the cedar fire. Sadly, the thick forest disappeared, except for those which surrounds Lake Cuyamaca and the forest closer to Julian.
Thankfully, the forest around the lake and Julian were spared from the 2003 cedar wildfire
Though I have failed to see the lushness of the forest in the Cuyamaca Mountains prior to the 2003 wildfire, but the serenity of this place continues to inspire me to go here maybe twice or thrice a year. Lots of wildlife can be seen early in the morning and late in the afternoon. It is fun to see wild turkeys strutting their stuff.
Wild Turkeys
Lake Cuyamaca is also popular for bird watchers. Ospreys, hawks, turkey vulture, and other migratory birds are often seen hovering above the oak and pine forests or silently looking for trouts on the lake. Deers are often marching in the meadows early in the morning or late afternoon as they move from the desert to the mountains. Lake Cuyamaca is popular for fishing, especially in autumn as the water starts to cool down. There is also 3.5 miles trail around the lake, and more than hundreds of miles of trails at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.
Fall Curtain @ Lake Cuyamaca
What actually inspires me most each time I go to Lake Cuyamaca is being able to witness the sprouting of a new life after a scorching fire.

Leaves Growing Back on almost Charred, Burned Trees
Though it feels sad to look at the charred trees, yet it is also uplifting to see how life goes back in them. It is inspiring to see how nature takes care of our beautiful yet very delicate Earth.
Orchard Farm Near Lake Cuyamaca
A visit to Cuyamaca, reminds me of how we, just like nature, can pick up the pieces and move on with life.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Thinking of Aspen

Aspen Trees Reflected on Lake, Bishop, California
It seems that time runs so fast these days, it is already October, and soon, December comes, and then the year 2011. I have been struggling with my time lately, it seems that 24 hours in a day is not enough :( So many things to do, yet so little time. Sometimes, I wish I am like the koalas, who have the luxury to sleep 16 to 18 hours in a day. However, then if I sleep that long I am afraid I will not be able to enjoy hiking, since there is only 6 to 8 hours left for me, and some trails require more time than that. Fall colors have peaked now in most places, I can just imagine the dreamy colors of the quaking aspen trees covering the rocky mountains.

The aspen tree is the most widely distributed tree species in North America.
Huge Colony of Aspen Trees
The Aspen trees range from Alaska down the Rocky Mountains to California and Mexico. Utah and Colorado is home to the largest portion of the natural acreage of aspen in the World. Aspen grow in large clonal colonies that is derived from a single seedling, and spreads through roots. The root system of an aspen is long lived, up to several thousand years old. Aspen survive forest fires, since their roots are below the heat of fire, and new aspen trees will sprout after the fire burns out. Before, we used to have a weekend get-away last week of September to enjoy the beautiful colors of aspen trees.
Relaxing in the lake surrounded by Golden Hues of Aspen
However, this year, I am so struggling with my time that a weekend get-away to the rocky mountains is just not possible :( The nearest vacation I can think of is somewhere in November. There may be no more golden colors that time of the year, but well, I enjoy barren aspen clothed in snow too, and would enjoy snowshoeing too. This time, having seen from a co-teacher sandboarding at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and snowboarding at the Rocky Mountains, I am looking at aspen rentals in Colorado. Sandboarding and snowshoeing, here I come :)