By Greg Dunne
April 13, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) -- My buddy David, my son Kyle and I always enjoy doing long and unusual urban hikes. On this past Friday, April 8th, we did what we dubbed the “Cross to Cross” hike. We hiked from the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla to the top of Mt. Helix in La Mesa.
We enjoy doing uncommon and different urban walks that we think nobody has done before. Some examples: We started at Lake Murray parking lot and headed to the top of Mt. Helix. From there we headed over to the top of Cowles Mountain and then back to Lake Murray parking lot. We’ve walked from Lake Murray parking lot to the San Diego Zoo. And we’ve done Lake Murray to Santee lakes and back a few times. That’s a few of the examples as of late.
The trek from Cross to Cross was 22 miles (my companions didn’t believe my Fitbit and thought 23-24 miles) and took us almost exactly 7 hours – walking of course. We started at the top of Mt. Soledad at 7:10am and finished on top of Mt. Helix at 2:00pm. The things you see on the street when you walk are always an eye opener, as opposed to when you drive along the streets--businesses you never noticed before, more trash than you would believe, and I was surprised by how many San Diego City rental bicycles I saw parked randomly.
After descending Mt. Soledad, we arrived at Mission Bay Park at 9:20am. Onward to Friars Road around 10:20 a.m. We hit the intersection of El Cajon Boulevard and Montezuma Road around noon. We took a short break at a smoothie place on El Cajon Boulevard, got some smoothies, and kept walking. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves at this point but realized it’s a bit deceptive how much farther we had to go to get to the top of Mt. Helix, which was about 2 more hours. We have a good walking pace of about 3.5 miles an hour on average. Of course, the many traffic lights and crosswalks along the way can slow you down out on urban walks.
We had to cross 52 street lights – and I noticed something I hadn’t seen before; a bicycle light! Along the way Starbucks outnumbered 7-11 Stores by one: we saw nine Starbucks (within view of the walk) and eight 7-11 Convenience Stores. We also saw a few homeless encampments, mostly along Camino del Rio South. I gave one homeless person five dollars. What I noticed that struck me as the most interesting is that along Fairmont Avenue before you get to Montezuma Road on the west side there are a lot of palm trees. Not just a lot of palm trees, but a very dense number of trees down in the canyon.
We enjoy our quirky and sometimes long urban hikes in our county. It gives you a unique perspective on the concrete jungle we live in and the walking is good for you. Whether you are walking two or three miles or ten miles, it’s a great exercise for the mind and body. Fresh air, blue skies, see some birds, legs in motion. Get out and walk when you can and enjoy the beautiful county.