Tax Freedom Day Cache
Before you go...
This is a fairly challenging hike, so figure on taking a few hours. Straight line from the start of the trail to the summit is a little over a mile, but you can't get to it in a straight line. In the course of walking a couple of miles, you'll gain roughly 1600 feet elevation. There are a few - very few - level spots. Above all, you'll need water. Good hiking shoes would be a plus. Like all areas in the Cleveland National Forest, this one is subject to closure from time-to-time. The rangers will be happy to provide any information that you may require, and they have a telephone! Dial (619) 445-6235 and ask if the Viejas Mountain Trail is open.
This is what you're really after. The trailhead is very well marked with a big sign (well, a sign anyway) that says "Trail." (11-25-06 The trail sign has been replaced. There are now two signs: one iconic and the other says "Viejas Mountain Trail") If you don't see the sign, you haven't found the trailhead. It's on the side of the road with the big mountain. The path is very easily navigated, well-maintained with ducks along the way. If you have any question at all whether you've lost it, you probably have. There are a couple of spots near the top where it isn't particularly obvious, but climb up on a rock and look around. You'll find it easily. You really don't need your GPSr until you get pretty near the top.
You'll be hiking through an area that was nearly wiped clean by the fires of October, 2003. There are many reminders of the fire, and virtually everything you see that isn't charred has grown since then. With a boost from one of the wettest rainy seasons in our history, the regrowth has been remarkable.
This area is still recovering! PLEASE stay on the trail. (5-20-2006 - The area continues to recover and can probably tolerate some deviation off-trail, in my opinion anyway.)
You'll come to a pyramid. This is where we met our little friend. (11-25-06 The pyramid went missing a few weeks back.)
Yes, the Nikon has a pretty good zoom. This was our second rattler of the season, and I'm beginning to understand why these things ended up on the menu so often. They really are pretty mellow, until you do something they don't like no doubt. You wouldn't want to find out what that might be way up here.
This is the sad part of the hike. At the summit is a stone structure built by campers back in the '70s. The sad sad thing about this is that campers used stones from a winter solstice observatory built by the native inhabitants.
Just your basic cache in a tin box that was supposed to be part of the Lawson series. We called it Tax Freedom Cache because it was placed on April 17, 2005. I heard that someone calculated that to be the day this year after which the average American would be earning his or her own money, if they had been paying everything in taxes up until then. Ok, it's a stretch I know. (5-20-2006 - The Tax Foundation calculates that Tax Freedom day for 2006 was April 26 for the typical American, April 30 for the typical Californian.)
Head towards Alpine and take the Tavern Road exit, go East on Alpine BLVD to East Victoria DR and go North a little over a mile to Anderson RD. Take a right and go until you come to a couple of big green watertowers and all the National Forest signs. If you have an Adventure Pass, you can drive the quarter mile or so to the trailhead, otherwise park outside the gate and start walking.