El Cajon Morning

Peak Summited2021 El Cajon Mountain
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadMain Trailhead
EncounteredWildflowers blooming
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition

Freaking finally!

I had summitted three times prior- last successful summit was July 4- and during my attempt before this one, on February 14, I had also done Volcan and Cuyamaca in the preceding hours.  Hadn't made it even halfway up El Cajon on that day before experiencing severe knee and leg pain, went to the ER, found out it was my IT band, likely as a result of overexertion, mainly, plus a few other things, such as…getting old!

Took a break from activities, started physical therapy, made small gains in activity intensity and length, eventually getting closer and closer to where I was comfortable resuming this challenge, and here we are!  A year after my last successful summit!

I started at 4 AM to beat the heat, and kept a fairly slow pace, at least by my standards.  Once I made that initial elevation gain, I saw some headlamps much further up the trail; couldn't tell if they were coming down or going up.  Upon reaching the summit, I encountered a group of middle-aged women with stars-and-stripes baseball caps, so perhaps it was them.  There was also a dude with an American flag who held it up for the picture you'll see below.

Was above the clouds for the most part, resulting in some beautiful shots at the summit.  Sunrise was behind the ridges until the final climb to the top, and I took a nice long break with snacks and a book, chatted with a few other summitters, as I wanted to make sure I didn't overexert myself again!  Coming down, took a slow pace again, sun wasn't too bad.  Brought 6 liters of water and didn't even need 3; saw some folks going up as I was coming down, and they said they had 6 liters each, so I hope they were OK!

I then put up the framed shirt on my wall next to the shirts from last year's challenges- now on to the SoCal Challenge!


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