Mount Israel is in the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, a popular hiking area. For two years the cache was located just outside of the Elfin Forest Reserve Boundary, however a nature conservancy group purchased the property east of the Recreational Reserve and asked me to move the cache to prevent hikers from treading on sensitive vegetation. At that time, the cache became virtual so that you, too, can experience the thrill of standing atop San Diego county with unending views in every direction.
By far the biggest reward of The Mt. Israel Cache is not a trinket, but the views. Binoculars enhance the experience but are not necessary. On clear days the 10,000 foot high San Bernardino Mountain range north of Palm Springs can be seen just to the left of the Palomar range. (Pure white snow-covered mountain tops loomed on the northern horizon on 3-30-03). San Clemente and Santa Catalina Islands, 70 miles offshore, are visible on Santa Anna days when standing at 33 04.846 & 117 08.183. Tecate Peak on the Mexican Border was naked-eye visible on 3-30-03. Mt Woodsen, Cuyamaca Peak, Middle Peak, Iron Mountain, Lyons Peak all feel so close that you could touch them. From the cache location the Mt. Soledad radio antenna and cross in La Jolla are visible with binoculars.
When posting your log, please don’t give away the “surprise” of what you see on the other side of the mountain when you arrive at the cache site. Instead, let future cachers experience the surprise for themselves. For fun, post a photo of you or the view... or both!
The best way to approach the cache is to begin at the parking lot of the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve on Harmony Grove Road. Gates open at 8AM every day of the year except Christmas. Gates close at dusk. Take “The Way Up Trail.” Your GPS will do the rest. Please stay on the trails. No need to go off the trails. I’ve seen Southern Pacific and Diamondback Rattlers up here on three different occasions. They won’t bother you if you stay on the trail.
I highly recommend hiking the self guiding Botanical Trail (adds an extra half mile to your trek and joins with “The Way Up Trail” above) if you would like to learn to identify common Chaparral plants like Scrub Oak, Poison Oak, Redberry, Lemonade Berry, Black Sage, Bushrue, Mountain Mahogany, Chamise, Laurel Sumac, Sagewort, Hollyleaf Cherry.
If you have a magnetic compass, take it with you. When you’re resting in the warm sun (or cool shade) with a gentle breeze blowing, it’s pure luxury, like you’re in the warm clouds of heaven looking down on the earth. The magnetic bearings provided below help you identify distant mountain peaks: All the bearings are listed as Magnetic North (MN) so that they line up exactly with your compass. (Magnetic North is 13 degrees “more” than True North in this area of the United States.)
· Palomar Mountain MN 26 degrees, 25 miles.
· Volcan Mt in Julian MN 65-70, 30 miles;
· North Peak MN 86 degrees, 32 miles;
· Middle Peak MN 90 degrees, 32 miles;
· Cuyamaca Peak MN 93 degrees, 32 miles;
· Woodsen Mountain (Poway) MN 105, 11 miles;
· Iron Mt MN 113 degrees, 134 miles.
· Lyons Peak MN 127 degrees, 34 miles;
· Tecate Mt (on Mexico border) MN 129, 43 miles;
· San Miguel Mt MN 143 degrees, 29 miles;
· Black Mt (Carmel Valley) MN 159, 7 miles.
Mount Whitney (our local Mt Whitney) is the peak with the radio building on it at 313 degrees MN, just across the valley. Paint Mountain (with a house and palm trees on top) is west at 236 MN. I’ve heard a rumor that Arnold Schwarzenegger used to own that house.
On a clear day, the San Bernardino range is visible more than 60 miles to the north at 2 degrees MN, and was snow covered today (1-20-01).
Enjoy the sun, the views, the hike! Carpe Diem!