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Welcome to my corner of North Georgia. I document my adventures and outdoor activities in hopes of inspiring others to make the most of each day. It is my goal to make hiking accessible and non-intimidating, while promoting responsible enjoyment of the environment. No trail is too short!

Cali- Garnet Peak and Julian

Since the weather was much cooler than our previous visit, I wanted to really get out and hike on this trip. Ultimately, we spent probably 80% of our trip outside and I am completely fine with that! Other than trying to figure out what to wear (it's 60 degrees out- is that shorts weather or pants weather? Answer- shorts if in the sun, pants if in the shade, boots and down jacket if you are a California resident), I loved being outside the whole week. The weather looked like it would be nicest early in the week, so I planned the bulk of our "must do" outdoor activities for Sun- Weds. 

The weather on Monday morning was cool, crisp, and really clear so it was the perfect day to head to the mountains just east of San Diego. I had it in my head to hike some small section of the Pacific Crest Trail, just to say that I had set foot on it, and found a easy sounding (hey, we were on vacation after all) hike to Garnet Peak. I have to say, I think the effort vs. payoff ratio of this hike is best of any hike I've ever taken (in other words, it's not hard and the view was stunning). First of all, it's a very easy, barely an hour drive from San Diego. You hop on I-8, go east, exit onto Sunrise Highway, drive through some very scenic mountain curves, and you're there. No back roads, no 4-wheel drive needed, no worries about GPS going out of service because it's so simple to get there. 

Then there's the hike itself. We started at the Penny Pines trail head, which is about 5 miles round trip, but there are other shorter and longer options nearby. Easiest 5 miles I have ever hiked. About 3/4 of the hike is flat-ish but shows amazing scenery of nearby mountains and valleys. The last section is uphill but short as you climb the summit of Garnet Peak. I will say, I was a little scared on the summit because it's very rocky and I am clumsy. After being so used to big, flat, "balds" of the Georgia mountains, a narrow, rocky mountain top is intimidating. The view was amazing though and so worth it! From the summit, you can see the Anza-Borrego desert, the Salton Sea, and snow capped peaks off in the distance. Quite the variety of geographic features!

Since we were there so early we only saw a handful of other hikers and had plenty of peace and quiet to ourselves. The hike took us about 2 hours total and that was with a lot of stopping to take pictures along the way. We finished earlier than we anticipated, so we decided to drive about 20 minutes north into Julian. I had heard of "Julian Pies" and we figured there was no harm in seeing what it was all about. 

I suppose Julian is like the Ellijay of southern California. They've got mountains and apples and mining and a historic town strip. Julian also seems to have a lot of town pride as everything is called "Julian This" or "Julian That". We went in a few general store type places and yes, found a bakery that sells vegan apple pies. James wanted to go big or go home, so we bought a whole apple pie and then spent the rest of the week trying to eat it. But that's ok because we earned our right to eat whole pies with the amount of hiking/walking we did. 
In the evening, we met our other SD friend for dinner and went to an amazing vegan restaurant/bar called Kindred, which is located in the South Park neighborhood. Not sure who put this place together, but it's an awesome blend of cats, heavy metal, seriously upscale decor, crafty cocktails, and aforementioned vegan cuisine. Truly intriguing. I ordered a BBQ jackfruit sandwich which was leaps and bounds better than the BBQ jackfruit I make at home and I tried Kombucha for the first time. The food prices were very affordable ($10 sandwich w/chips) but the vibe so trendy, this would make a great first date kind of place. 
Only in California can you go from down home apple pie to upscale vegan cuisine in under an hour!

Cali- Cabrillo National Monument

California Part Dos