Monday, January 9, 2012

Montserate Mountain

The trail to the top of Montserate Mountain
From Wednesday to Saturday last week (January 4-7, 2012), I was in San Diego visiting my father, who is dying of congestive heart failure.  My stepmother told me that my father's condition improved markedly when she told him that I was coming to visit, and we had a great few days together.  On both Thursday and Friday mornings, I pushed him in his wheelchair for 5 miles along the sunny, breezy San Luis Rey River Trail in Oceanside, California, where we enjoyed watching birds in the riparian trees and other people using the popular trail.

The walks left him tired in the afternoon (even though I was doing all the work). So, on Thursday afternoon, while he napped, I explored the Fallbrook Land Conservancy's Montserate Mountain Preserve.  The trail to the top of 1,269-foot Montserate Mountain is a 1,200-foot climb over a distance of a little less than two miles, so this flat lander had to rest frequently on the ascent.
Along the trail to the top of Montserate Mountain.
Boulders along the trail; the saddle between the two crests is in the upper left.
The image above is a view to the northwest.  The terraced hills visible in the midground are used for avocado orchards (Fallbrook is the avocado capital of the United States), but they are quickly being converted to residential subdivisions because Fallbrook is a high-end community with a lot of development pressure.  The mountains on the horizon are the Santa Ana Mountains just outside Los Angeles.

Flowers along the trail.  Because it's winter, there weren't many flowers blooming.  I can't identify the blue flower, but I believe the orange flower is called Mexican honeysuckle.
The cairn on the crest of Montserate Mountain. This view is eastward.  The mountains in the distance are the Aqua Tibia Mountains, which are protected in the Aqua Tibia Wilderness.  The Aqua Tibia range is a northwestward extension of Palomar Mountain, the site of a famous astronomical observatory.

Although I didn't notice any insects on my way to the top of the mountain, at the crest I was greeted by a fluttering aggregation of about three dozen butterflies.  Strange and unexpected.
The moon rose while I caught my breath and enjoyed the scenery at the top.


packrat said...

I'm glad you got to spend some quality time with your father, Scott. Your photos--as always--are beautiful. And you're an excellent writer, too; one who has interesting observations to share.

Scott said...

Thank you, Packrat. I really wasn't looking forward to enduring the hassle of a plane ride out to San Diego for just four days, but I am sooo glad that I did. The plane ride wasn't that much of a hassle after all, and the visit really buoyed my father's (and my) spirits. Plus, the weather was perfect, so it was a nice (albeit too short) winter getaway for me; I almost felt guilty for enjoying myself so much.