Along the Piedras Pintadas Trail

I found this trail from other well-known or established hiking blogs, and was excited to see that it is a lot less traveled on weekends than Cowles Mountain, Iron Mountain, or Mount Woodson - all popular and sometimes crowded San Diego hikes. My inner introvert sometimes craves the solitude and peace of a solo hike, unless it's with my pitty Stella. Not only is she my souldog, but she's also my protection whenever I go on a hike by myself.

The Piedras Pintadas trail can be hot in the summer, but Stella and I went right before the heat wave hit. It was a nice 73 degrees, but the trail is unshaded, making it feel hotter than it probably was, especially for Stella. We took several breaks and I gave her most of my water. I'll save my dog, stupidly enough, before I save myself. -I'm joking- a little bit.- The trail totals a little over 4 miles out and back, and offers stunning views of Lake Hodges and the surrounding community. There are beautiful homes that line the hilltops, but it still felt like an escape from civilization, save from the lone mountain biker, runner, or fellow hiker or two that we encountered on the path. It is named "Painted Rocks" because the Kumeyaay Indians which inhabited the land used the rocks as canvases for beautiful art. I love the educational plaques which line the trail and describe the Kumeyaay culture and how the surrounding landscape was used in daily life.

Further along the trail is a colorful grove of plants and flowers that I can't identify, but that were taller than me and provided a momentary opportunity for cooling down. We passed an area where Chelsea King had been abducted and was buried in a shallow grave nearby; a memorial has been created in her honor. Another woman who survived the same ordeal by the same murderer was abducted on the same trail. I remember when this happened, and I was afraid to run or hike on my own; there are signs everywhere now warning people to stay alert and "take a buddy". It is sad that we have to worry about things like this and can't enjoy the outdoors by ourselves.  I paused and reflected momentarily and was just grateful for life and comfort at that very moment.

Further down, the trail passes by a waterfall, that has since been fenced off due to trespassers; it was amazingly still dribbling, but should be dried out completely during the hotter months. A mile further down the trail by the lake view, I encountered two hikers who slowed for a rattlesnake to cross the dirt path. I was not happy about that sighting! I quickly ran by it and worked my way up the hill to a magnificent view of the lake and the preserve, careful of where I stepped and purposely stomping my feet to warn any future snakes that Stella and I were approaching.

I felt a little triumph swell in my belly as I conquered my fear of being alone on the trail that particular day- okay I wasn't really alone with Stella- and learning more about the history of the region. I tried keeping my phone in my bag for most of the hike so I could really enjoy my alone time and everything around me, but then I had to take photographs, so it came out every so often. My GoPro and Olympus are kaput and my Canon is too big to lug around with me on hikes, so now my trusty iphone has been doing all the photography work for my Project Life and other stuff I plan on doing.

If you were to ask me why does any of this matter- why take photos, why go on hikes, why the hell don't I sit still? I can only answer that it isn't in my nature....and, I have a decade or more of my life without any photographs, without any memories that I can look back on. It doesn't help that my memory has gotten worse, and we all know how that goes. But I don't really have to explain myself except to a few people, and most of the time I don't have to care what anybody else thinks. Well, because no one else pays my bills and my mortgage but me. Until anyone else does- and that will be never because I want my own freedom- then I might care.

Spoken like the weird INFP that I am. Chow, muchachos.