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All roads lead home Richard Pena | Fri, Aug 06 2010 04:00 PM

Have you ever heard of anyone who would go from Bonita to the Silver Strand by way of Escondido and Carlsbad? When my son and grandson drop in for a periodic visit, this type of thing is not out of the ordinary.

Son David and Grandson Travis flew in the other day from Maryland and, of course, one of the first things that were asked of me was where I would like to go while they were here.

This, as you might guess, is simply a rhetorical question which when translated means "We have the place picked out."

As anyone who has ever had the desire to take a trek in any of the backcountry of San Diego County he is going to have a choice of more than 100 places to hike, picnic, camp or simply look at.

These can range from the desert to the mountains to the seashore. For the first part of this journey we chose to go to the Escondido area to visit a spot that I did not know existed.

This is the county park known as Hellhole Canyon Open Space Preserve. It, like most of the other county parks, features a hiking trail and, like most of the other county parks, is not for the faint of heart. It is five miles round trip but the five miles, on observation seems to be two and a half down and two and a half back up. On speaking with the ranger on duty, we also learn that one must keep his eye to the ground as there are a few families of rattlesnakes who also use the trail. On top of that, other wild life have been spotted in the area.

The park, sadly, was part of the Paradise fire of a few years ago. As a result, the vegetation is on its way back but sparse in most spots.

Visitors, however, have a splendid view of the Rodriguez Mountain which borders the park to the west. The tallest of these is 3,100 feet, an altitude that compares favorably with the more renowned Palomar and Cuyamaca mountains that are more to the east.

The literature tells us that the winter time can be a bit more pleasant. For one thing there is apt to be water flowing at the lower edges of the canyon. In some instances, during the rainy season, the flowing streams can be rather treacherous for those wishing to cross.

Legend tells us that that's how the canyon got its name. It was a crossing for those early settlers in their Conestogas and other wagons,

"We had a hell of a time crossing that stream," was the usual cry.

While on the subject of water, if one gets tired of the Hellhole, it is only a short distance to Lake Wohlford. This area has a short walking trail that follows some of the perimeter of the lake. They say that it is easy for children; hence, anyone could make it, perhaps even me.

The objective of most people when they come from east to west is the Pacific Ocean. And Grandson Travis is no exception. So we left the Escondido area and headed for the coast. We saw the ocean at Carlsbad and wended our way south looking for a beach parking place. On a sunny Saturday afternoon this is a foolish quest. So we gave up and headed for the Silver Strand.

For anyone who is seeking a peaceful hour or two at the beach, we strongly recommend the Strand. For one thing it is easy to find a parking place and it is only a short walk from car to beach. And, contrary to what others may think, the sun is just as pleasant there as it is at La Jolla. Both David and Travis love to body surf. They had their fill of it on that particular day. After a short stint of trying to catch a big one in 63-degree water, they were satisfied to enjoy the warm sand.

As for me, I sat in my beach chair during the entire time observing people. Strictly research, you know.


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